To the Editorial Board of the Peterborough Examiner; To Sheila Nabigon-Howlett; To the people of Curve Lake First Nation, Peterborough—Kawartha, and Nogojiwanong;
I hear you.
After more than two years as your Member of Parliament, my commitment to addressing access to clean drinking water for Curve Lake First Nation is stronger than ever. To me, this is more than a campaign promise – this is a personal commitment that I know will serve as a measure of my success as your Member of Parliament. Moreover, it will serve as a measure of our collective success as a community and a society.
The issues facing Indigenous people in Canada today, including access to drinking water, are numerous and complex, and so too must be their solutions. This government is not the first to acknowledge these issues and commit to working towards positive change for Indigenous communities. However, in the last two years this government has taken unprecedented steps to recognize and implement the rights of Indigenous people that have been enshrined in our Constitution for decades. It is incumbent upon us to do this work now because we have come to a point in the history of our country where our people and our government recognize that we cannot develop as a nation or as a people while Indigenous rights continue to go unrecognized and unrealized. We must get this done and we will get this done.
Our government’s approach is based on respect, on partnerships, and on the recognition of Treaty Rights as the basis for decision making. We know that engaging with Indigenous communities and their leadership in the co-development of policies and service delivery respects the right to self-determination, and ultimately leads to better outcomes for Indigenous people. Our goal continues to be the self-governance of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
It is in this spirit that I maintain a close working partnership with Chief Williams and Curve Lake Council as they continue to negotiate for the best and most sustainable water system for their community. The leadership in Curve Lake is experienced in understanding and serving the needs of their community, and Council continues to execute their duties in a way that will leave their community in a position to grow and prosper for generations to come. The relationship we have built is central to our success, and I am grateful to the leaders and Elders who have, long before politics and now, taken time to teach and guide me.
Still – we have more work to do. This is not quick work, and it is not easy work. This work takes place around boardroom tables, around dining room tables, and indeed in the pages of the Examiner. I welcome my community’s support and the call to action, and I assure you, this is a passion that I share with you. I am dedicated to caring for the relationships we have built with Indigenous people living throughout Peterborough—Kawartha, and continue to engage in the Curve Lake community through my monthly satellite office.
As a Member of Parliament, as a Minister of the Crown, and as a product of my community I carry with me, every day, the history of advocacy for drinking water in Curve Lake First Nation that exists here. I remain committed to the work we’ve been doing on this file since day one, and I am confident that we are on our way to securing clean water for Curve Lake. Bringing this significant asset to an already strong community will unlock social and economic opportunities that have been denied to the people of Curve Lake for far too long. My work and advocacy will not end there, and I know I am not alone in that understanding. We are just beginning a new era of reconciliation with the First Peoples of this land. Ensuring that the next 150 years of Canada are more prosperous and more equitable will take meaningful effort from every one of us in Peterborough—Kawartha, and I am proud to represent a community committed to just that.
Hon. Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.
This response originally appeared in The Peterborough Examiner on February 20, 2018