NEW YORK (NEWS 1130) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given his second speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and used his time to shine an international light on the troubles facing Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The half-hour speech outlined just some of the history of colonialism in Canada and its impact on Indigenous Canadians.
“The experience was mostly one of humiliation, neglect, and abuse,” said Trudeau.
He touched on the residential school system, as well as chronic problems with safe water, crime, suicide, and education.
“That is the legacy of colonialism in Canada. Of a paternalistic ‘Indian Act.’ Of the forced relocation of Inuit and First Nations communities, and a systematic denial of Metis rights and history.”
But the prime minister told the international crowd that he is hopeful his government can re-build the relationship with Indigenous peoples. “We can do better and be better and treat each other with dignity and respect.”
He says that means taking a hard look at how they define themselves as nations and how they seek to relate to other orders of government.
“Some may choose to engage with our government based on historic nations and treaties. Others will use different shared experiences as the basis for coming together. The choice is theirs. That is precisely what self-determination demands.”
While his message was positive, the prime minister has been criticized at home for not providing enough resources or acting too slowly to deal with many of these problems.