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Trudeau Promises to Address Plight of First Nations People

By Vincent Maresca
Staff Writer

On November 4, Justin Trudeau became the Prime Minister of Canada, succeeding Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party. In his victory speech, the Liberal Party leader delivered a hopeful speech in which he pledged a solution to abuses of the First Nations people.

According to CBC News, the indigenous people of the First Nations are facing what a defense lawyer of Indian rights describes a “national crisis.” Among the crimes are missing and murdered indigenous women, lack of education, and mandatory boil-water advisories.

As the general elections approached, the indigenous populace played a role in making their voice heard. Rhonda Head of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation encouraged people use the hashtag #rockthevote on Facebook. Tribal leader Perry Bellegarde believes that cooperation can occur under the Trudeau administration.

The National Observer described the campaign promises of the Trudeau campaign for a resolution to the exploitation of the First Nations, including closer cooperation between the government in Ottawa and tribes, immediate investigation into the disappearance of individuals, and a review of all treaties dealing with the aboriginal people.

On the matter of indigenous relations, Justin Trudeau spoke of a “renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples that respects rights and honors treaties” during his victory speech, according to CBC News.

Shortly after the Liberal Party sweep, Trudeau appointed a diverse group of minsters. According to the National Observer, half of them are women and two belong to the indigenous minority in Parliament. Abiding by Trudeau’s campaign promises, CBC News reports that the cabinet met with families of missing and murdered indigenous women at a First Nations conference on November 4.

Although the scope of the investigation is broad and costly, totaling nearly $40 million, this latest move could end years of division between Ottawa and the aboriginal people.

Jasmine Andersson of the Guardian offered a critical opinion on the recent victory of the Liberal Party, saying that Trudeau is taking a hardline on indigenous affairs, in comparison with other political parties. For instance, Stephen Harper’s conservative government refused to negotiate with the indigenous communities. However, the recent rhetoric by Trudeau may create skepticism, such as how the effort will be funded. The previous Liberal administration spent 2 percent on aboriginal education, and opponents are seeking to combat the root causes of the lack of education among the First Nations.

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