Skip to content

ELECTION: Simcoe North candidates address Indigenous issues

Local candidates are asked how they would address specific Indigenous issues and what their strategy would be to help heal wounds

Editor's note: Ahead of the Sept. 20 federal election, OrilliaMatters contacted the five candidates in Simcoe North, asking each to answer, in 200 words or less, five key questions. In Part 3 of our 5-part series, candidates weigh in on Indigenous issues. Tomorrow, the candidates will be asked about climate change. For more information about the local election race, visit our CanadaVotes 2021 page.

Question: We are a rich country in many ways, but many of our First Nations reserves still don’t have clean drinking water. The tragedy of Residential Schools has ripped open the hurt and trauma many of our Indigenous families have felt for generations. Many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations remain unheeded. How would you address these issues and help heal these wounds?

Answer from NDP candidate Janet-Lynne Durnford:
We need to start by acknowledging the enduring harms caused by our country’s colonial history of genocide and stolen lands. It is regrettable that the snap election call has drawn attention away from these issues. The unmarked graves of Indigenous children continue to be found while Canadians are distracted by election coverage.

It’s time to find every child, and bring them home.

In partnership with Indigenous peoples, a New Democrat government will fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

New Democrats believe that it is past time for the federal government to step up and fully fund the services and infrastructure that Indigenous communities need to thrive, including reliable supplies of fresh water to all reserves.  This means making the full investments required to ensure clean water and lift all drinking water advisories for good right now, not years from now, and supporting Indigenous-led water management training programs and water system operations as an immediate priority. 

As the MP for Simcoe North, I plan to continue to listen to and learn from local Indigenous peoples, and work to co-develop local solutions to healing.

Answer from Green Party candidate Krystal Brooks:
Many of the reserves are currently facing medium or high risk of water contamination, 73% to be precise.

Indigenous people have been living with the knowledge and pain of residential schools for many years and the judicial system and child welfare systems are a continuation of residential schools.

We make up less than 5% of the population here in Canada and yet 52% of children in care are Indigenous. 51% of police reported human trafficking victims are Indigenous. Thousands of  Indigenous women and girls are missing or have been murdered and the families have yet to see justice. We are severely over-represented in institutions as well. This is genocide.

Many do not have the capacity to recognize this for what it is because the government lacks transparency regarding Indigenous people. That needs to change. Part of that change comes with simple things like no longer referring to Indigenous people as “yours” or “ours.” We belong to the land, no one else.

I will ensure Indigenous voices are heard and respected and will do this despite working in a government setting that, as a whole, continues to oppress Indigenous people. I will try to be the voice for the voiceless.

Answer from People's Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Stephen Makk:
The PPC pledged, back in 2019, to ensure clean drinking water to reserves. The PPC insists on treating all Canadians equally. Infrastructure, healthcare and education are areas where we have common ground and common human needs. 

Reserves need water, roads, telecommunications, good public building and public safety services. The PPC would improve our reserves before sending money overseas for such projects. 

As libertarian thinkers, we are horrified by what happened to Indigenous children in the residential schools. Each precious child was an individual sovereign human whose rights, and life, were destroyed by an over-reaching tyrannical government, which did not respect separation of church and state, and used police to oppress citizens. 

How did that state DARE assume that it knew better than parents and the community what was best for those children? The residential schools are long closed, but the underlying evil of government overreach is still lurking, and is a threat to all of us.  

Instead of constant agonizing over the past, let’s implement practical solutions. Let’s repeal laws that treat First Nations unequally. Let’s not separate children from their parents. Let’s replace the systemically racist Indian Act with something better. Too much talk. Let’s act!

Answer from Liberal candidate Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux:

I am aware from multiple discussions that 87% of the 94 Calls to Actions are being addressed and moving towards completion by the Liberal Government. Many of the actions are in process and do not hit the public domain because of this. Once they are completed they can be announced.

Many of the negotiations with Indigenous peoples are also in progress and many tables have been set to discuss healing needs, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, restoration of governance systems, child welfare, and the establishment of laws outside of the Indian Act.

Again, negotiations are sensitive and do not get announced in the public domain. This is the first government to make direct and whole of government commitments to address the intractable concerns of First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples and there is still much to do, because 150 years of marginalization does not get corrected in six years, especially when there is resistance to provision of adequate resources to cover costs of water systems, hydro installation, and appropriate housing, medical and dental care, etc.

I have spent over 40 years working on these issues and am deeply aware of the needs.

Answer from Conservative candidate Adam Chambers:
It is critical that Indigenous Canadians are respected, listened to and recognized.

A Conservative government is committed to working on all of the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report with Indigenous communities. 

The Conservative platform has made real commitments, like expanding the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, funding an exhaustive investigation of all residential schools, building a national monument to honour residential school survivors and those who we lost. 

We also strongly believe in levelling the economic playing field by supporting Indigenous businesses to hire more employees and grow their operations.

Further, I would support the continued recognition of the Métis self government agreements to further reconciliation and build bridges with the broader Indigenous community.

Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.