Sam Johnston, First First Nations Speaker in Canada

Article 9 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

Sam Johnston, First First Nations Speaker in Canada

Samuel (Sam) Johnston, of the Teslin Tlingit, holds a unique place in Canadian history as the first First Nations person to be elected Speaker in Yukon and in Canada. He was also instrumental in the development of land claims and First Nation self-government agreements between First Nations, and the governments of Yukon and Canada.

Caitilín O’Hare

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New and Notable Titles

Article 8 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

New and Notable Titles

A selection of recent publications relating to parliamentary studies prepared with the assistance of the Library of Parliament (April 2019 – May 2019) Bédard-Rubin, Jean-Christophe. “Senate reform and the political safeguards of Canadian federalism in Québec.” Constitutional Forum constitutionnel 28 (1), 2019: 19-27.• …in light of the Trudeau government’s new Senate appointment policy and institutional reform, the meaning and the role of the Senate in Canada’s constitutional architecture might change. The Senate reform could transmute what was a politically moribund institution into a genuine political safeguard of Canadian federalism.

The path is neither straightforward

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The Canadian Scene

Article 6 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

The Canadian Scene

New Nunavut Speaker

On May 28, 2019, Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak was elected Speaker of the Nunavut Assembly. Mr. Mikkungwak, who was elected in a secret ballot over MLAs Paul Quassa, Tony Akoak and Pat Angnakak, replaces former Speaker Joe Enook who passed away in March. “Having served as Deputy Speaker for our late Speaker, I am deeply touched,” Mr. Mikkungwak said. “My colleagues, it’s evident that we will work well together on behalf of Nunavummiut. I also humble myself for being elected as Speaker.” First elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, in addition to his role as Deputy Speaker, Mr. Mikkungwak also served as Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole.

Prior to entering politics Mr. Mikkungwak worked

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The Two-Row Wampum: Has this metaphor for co-existence run its course?

Article 5 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

The Two-Row Wampum: Has this metaphor for co-existence run its course?

In this article – an abridged and revised version of a longer academic research paper – the author illuminates elements of the Northwest Territories’ (NWT)consensus-style Legislative Assembly. He discusses how it is situated within both the political cultural traditions of the Indigenous peoples of NWT (the Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit people) and also the Canadian political culture that has developed out of the Westminster parliamentary system. He contends the Northwest Territories’ consensus style of government is uniquely structured to meet the needs
of its residents. While noting his analysis should not be construed to suggest that this system can or should be exported wholesale to either Indigenous governments or Canada’s parliaments, he suggests it does demonstrate that with shared purpose and political creativity, new ways can be found to define a third shared normative space, sparkling like jewels in the waters of the Two-Row Wampum.

Tim Mercer

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Claiming One’s Place – A Bigger Role for Indigenous Peoples and Parliamentarians in Ottawa

Article 4 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

Claiming One’s Place – A Bigger Role for Indigenous Peoples and Parliamentarians in Ottawa

As a part of a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Parliamentary Internship Programme, a panel was organized to discuss the historic and emerging roles of Indigenous People within the federal government and Parliament. Although unforeseen circumstances prompted a last-minute change in the line-up, a panel of current and former MPs, an academic and a public servant offered insightful commentary based on several perspectives. The panel particularly focussed on the challenges and opportunities involved in respectfully engaging a diverse population, creating self-government structures and building on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The following text has been edited and revised for length and clarity and is not a verbatim report.

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The Aboriginal Peoples Committee Room of the Senate of Canada

Article 3 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

The Aboriginal Peoples Committee Room of the Senate of Canada

Recognizing a disturbing absence of Indigenous representation within the federal Parliament buildings, the author endeavoured to acquire and donate Indigenous artwork and artifacts to display in the Aboriginal Peoples Committee Room of the Senate of Canada. With help from a group of senators in an effort to make Indigenous cultures visible and tangible to parliamentarians who used the room, as well as to visitors interested in the Senate and its history.

Hon. Serge Joyal, Senator

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Honouring Indigenous Languages Within Parliament

Article 2 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

Honouring Indigenous Languages Within Parliament

Canada has ‘two official’ languages, but neither one is one of the original languages of this land. As an Indigenous parliamentarian who speaks Cree, the author believed it was important to be able to make substantive statements in parliament in this language. This language informed the principle of his worldview and the worldview of some of his constituents. In 2017, the existing standing orders and policies of the House of Commons prevented his address in Cree from being translated to his fellow MPs. Despite receiving advice to use one of Canada’s two official languages, the author decided to continue with his speech as planned. Subsequently, he raised a prima facie  case that his rights as a parliamentarian had been violated and worked with the Regulations Committee (PROC) to change the standing orders. In this article, he explains his thoughts about this issue and reveals how he came to a decision to challenge the status quo in an effort to be true to himself and his people.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette, MP

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A Focus on Indigenous Parliamentarians

Article 1 / 9 , Vol 42 No. 2 (Summer)

A Focus on Indigenous Parliamentarians

Indigenous persons have served as representatives in Canada’s federal and provincial parliaments for almost as long as the country has been in existence. However, the legacy of colonialism combined with franchise restrictions imposed on Status Indians (and women), has contributed to severely limiting the numbers of individuals who have served as parliamentarians. Following the 2015 federal election, national news media lauded results which indicated that a record number of Indigenous candidates (54) resulted in a record 10 persons of Indigenous heritage becoming MPs. Yet, this still represented only three per cent of the House of Commons seats – a little more than half of their census representation. Moreover, there is no guarantee that these gains will be sustained from one parliament to the next. Representation in the Senate and amongst the provinces varies widely (see our Infographic on pages 32-33).

In this issue, we focus on Indigenous Parliamentarians and Indigenous representation within parliaments. Inside you’ll find profiles of some Indigenous parliamentarians, including the McLeod brothers of the Northwest Territories (inside cover) and Yukon’s Sam Johnston (page 64), articles by or roundtable discussions featuring Indigenous parliamentarians, a feature on efforts to expand Indigenous art within a Parliament, and an expansive review of how Indigenous political cultural traditions can coexist and inform the Westminster parliamentary system. A single edition cannot hope to capture the diversity of Indigenous experiences or scratch but the surface of important topics or issues. Rather, we hope to use this theme issue as a springboard for additional coverage. Other articles and features which were planned for this issue, but unfortunately not ready in time for publication, will be part of this ongoing presence. We encourage suggestions for future articles or submissions.

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