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Four Members of Parliament affirm Indigenous Peoples in historic oath of office


Last updated 1/16/2016 at 11:36am

OTTAWA, ON—Four members elected in Canada’s recent election, recognized the treaties signed between Indigenous Peoples and the Crown since 1701. MPs Pierre Nantel, Romeo Saganash, Georgina Jolibois and Niki Ashton chose to recognize in their Oath of Allegiance in Parliament the treaties signed with Indigenous nations.

After giving the oath outlined in the Constitution, MP Georgina Jolibois (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, and Niki Ashton (Churchill) pledged the following oath: “And, I solemnly affirm that, in the carrying out of my duties, I shall honor and respect the treaties signed with Indigenous Peoples.”

MPs Pierre Nantel (Longueuil-Saint-Hubert) and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou), also took the oath.

The four MPs were inspired by the 94th recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which in June 2015, proposed that the Oath of Canadian Citizenship be modified to include recognition of the treaties with Indigenous Peoples. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, promised before becoming elected to implement all of the Commission’s recommendations.

Romeo Saganash stated his commitment to the recommendations of the TRC. “If the Commission recommends that new Canadians recognize the historic relationship, then I think it is even more important that Members of Parliament affirm to uphold the treaties. This affirmation could be part of future swearing in ceremonies at the beginning of future parliaments, and I hope we can work together to make that happen.”

“I’m proud to join with my colleagues in continuing to bring the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to Parliament,” said Niki Ashton, “First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples have given us a strong mandate to make a difference going forward.”

“This oath is an important symbol for a new era of reconciliation and equality with Indigenous peoples,” stated Pierre Nantel. “For far too long, we have neglected our relations with the first peoples of this country. Today Quebecois and Canadians alike feel the need to embark on a path to reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. This is a small first step on that path.”

“As a proud Dene, and representing a constituency that values First Nations and Metis languages, I believe that all Aboriginal languages must be respected, supported and retained. Honoring and respecting treaties is a way to achieve that,” said Georgina Jolibois. “By recommending a change to the oath of citizenship, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has emphasized recognizing the constitutional value of Treaties signed with Indigenous Peoples. We call on the government to not delay in acting on the Commission’s 94 recommendations for reconciliation.”

This action by the four MPs reaffirms the constitutional importance of the historic and modern treaties: from La Grande Paix of Montreal of 1701 to today. The MPs encourage their colleagues and the Government of Canada to enthusiastically commit to a new relationship of reconciliation and respect among First Nations, Inuit and Métis by clearly making the same statement.


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