Saskatoon rally held in support of Bill C-262
- NC Raine | March 04, 2019
A rally in downtown Saskatoon was held over the weekend in support of Bill C-262 – a federal bill that would be monumental for the rights of Indigenous people in Canada.
Bill C-262, if enacted, would ensure that the laws of Canada are in accordance with the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Bill’s supporters believe that the act will provide a framework for reconciliation at all levels and sectors of Canadian society.
“I am blown away with how much a small little book like this, the (UN Declaration) has made such a change,” said Bishop Chris Harper, of the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon, at the Frances Morrison library on Saturday. “How it has challenged each and every one of us to recognize that Indigenous peoples have been here, are still here, and will be here tomorrow.”
Organizers of the event were hoping the rally would send a message to the Senate that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people support pushing the Bill forward. Bill C-262 is currently being lobbied to reach third reading. If it does not reach third reading in the Senate before Parliament is dissolved when the election is called, it will die on the order paper.
“The struggles and challenge is for the government, our representatives, to actually listen to the voice of the peoples, which is us,” said Harper. “To try to bring reconciliation to the forefront where all peoples can once again respect each other, talk to each other, and honour each other of who we are.”
Valerie Wiebe, one of the event organizers, stressed why letting the Bill be dissolved would be a great misstep, saying “That means we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing to help truth and reconciliation.”
The rally was attended by several delegates, including Saskatoon MP Sheri Benson, Senator Lillian Dyck, Harry Lafond from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Chief Mark Arcand.
“I find it very important that we lobby the Senate, we lobby the federal government, we lobby the provincial government, to recognize the rights of Indigenous people,” said Arcand.
Arcand spoke about how being met with opposition for federal bills like this, and issues in Saskatoon alike, should be made into an opportunity to educate.
“I was really disappointed when this first was announced in the House of Commons. There was opposition. Opposition is not a bad thing. It tells me we have to do more education and awareness,” said Arcand.
“When I look at the Bill, there should be no negative response to this. It should all be positive, it doesn’t hurt anybody. In fact, it creates a movement to say things are positive,” he said.
Organizers of the event passed out postcards addressed to the Senate, encouraging people to write in with their support of Bill C-262.
Organizers also proposed a second rally, at an unspecified date, to draw more support when the weather in Saskatoon is more mild.