Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says Canada needs to keep up with the goals of Indigenous people.

“Getting out from the Indian Act is a mutual goal,” Bennett said at an Assembly of First Nations meeting taking place in Ottawa. “We are working together on recognition, affirmation and implementation of the inherent and treaty rights of your people.”

She also said Canada’s formal way of relating to Indigenous people is like “a big, leaky old colonial boat.”

“For years we’ve tried to patch this old wreck and we’ve been bailing it with a thimble. We all know that this isn’t going to work,” Bennett said. “I believe Canada needs to get out of that colonialist boat, run it ashore, leave it to rot or at least put it up, drydock and rebuild it. We need a vessel that can navigate the changing waters, one that can keep pace with your vision and aspiration. One that is no longer holding back the promise for your children and grandchildren and their grandchildren.”

Bennett added that the Canadian government will continue to work with Indigenous people to introduce legislation on Indigenous child-and-family services in 2019. “We want to work on this new ship and we want to get it in the water because we know the current is with us.”

(Photo of Carolyn Bennett by Chelsea Laskowski.)