NDP Leader Cam Broten wants the provincial government to get serious about the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
After six years of national consultations, and after more than 6,750 survivor and witness statements, the TRC released an interim report with its recommendations in June and issued its final report last week. The Sask. Party government has largely remained quiet on the TRC's recommendations.
"We have to seize this unprecedented opportunity to repair the harm and work for reconciliation," said Broten. “Closing the education gap and partnering with First Nations and Métis communities to create loads of jobs and opportunities – that’s the right thing to do, both morally and economically.
“We also need to overhaul the child protection system, improve the justice system and support the ongoing resurgence of Indigenous languages and cultures. And we need to renew our relationships with First Nations and Métis communities, ensuring that those relationships are deeply rooted in respect."
Broten expressed concern that the premier is dragging his feet on developing a TRC action plan. That failure follows several others. The Sask. Party scrapped the Aboriginal Employment Development Program and failed to replace it with anything. It created and funded the Joint Task Force on First Nations and Métis Education and Employment, but two years later is still ignoring the vast majority of the recommendations in that task force’s final report. It’s also dragging its feet on the premier's commitment for a formal government apology for the damages done by the Sixties Scoop, which took First Nations and Métis children from their parents without consent and placed them in non-Aboriginal households.
"I think Saskatchewan is just scratching the surface of our true potential as a province right now. To build the strongest and healthiest province possible, we need to extend opportunity and prosperity much more broadly," said Broten. "The damage caused by past injustices is a barrier to a better life for many in our province, and it's time for meaningful action to get rid of those barriers. That's how we can ensure that our shared futures are as bright as possible for all of us in Saskatchewan – First Nations, Métis, immigrants, and the children and grandchildren of immigrants."