Fresh off his own election, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) chief Bobby Cameron says he’s thrilled with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet choices.
“We’re very happy with the outcome today,” Cameron said.
Cameron said he’s already left a message with newly appointed Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.
“We were hopeful that (the position) would have went to one of our indigenous MPs but Carolyn Bennett is equally as strong an advocate for First Nations’ inherent treaty rights, so we were happy,” he said.
During his time on the FSIN education portfolio, Cameron said Bennett supported their call to repeal Bill C-33, the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.
Cameron’s sentiments were echoed by Beardy’s and Okemasis Willow Cree First Nation councillor and co-chair of Liberal Party aboriginal peoples commission Kevin Seesequasis, who said Bennett is a passionate advocate on First Nations issues.
A former family physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Bennett served as Canada’s first Minister of State for Public Health, and as the Liberal Critic for Aboriginal Affairs.
She now takes on the challenge of making good on Trudeau’s promise to launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Cameron said he is also keen to see improvements in the justice system with Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould at the helm. The former crown prosecutor was also the Regional Chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations.
“She is very well knowledgeable and has seen the realities of the justice system (and) the negative impact it has had on our First Nations people,” Cameron said. “Her being a Minister of Justice is going to be very key in addressing the justice issues for First Nations people.”
Seesequasis said Wilson-Raybould appointment was not only symbolic but also a nod to her capabilities in address long standing issues.
The third First Nations MP to make it to the cabinet was Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Coastguard Minister Hunter Tootoo.
“Being a man who knows fully well how to survive off the the land, he knows the importance of it and he’s going to be really good in that position. It fits him to a tee.” Cameron said.
The chief said now he hopes to sit the politicians down to “get them to commit in writing as to how many millions of dollars are going to come to First Nation education” and housing.
He also hopes Trudeau will make good on his promise to honour the United Nations definition of indigenous rights, with special recognition that the treaty rights fall under international law.