In April, Romeo Saganash tabled a bill that would ensure the laws of Canada respect the United Nations Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. For the past eight weeks he has been touring across the country passing around a petition, gathering feedback and support and answering questions.
On Sept. 9, MP Rachel Blaney hosted Saganash at an intimate, but public, meeting with some local aboriginal leaders.
He said that the objective of his bill is to reconcile the previous sovereignty of the indigenous peoples to the assumed sovereignty of the crown.
He reminds the nay-sayers that everything in the U.N. declaration already has a place in Canadian law, and that this bill, should it be adopted, will ensure that all future legislation and policies will line up with this declaration.
So far Saganash said he has been overwhelmed with support.
“Most of the time, if not all of the time, every person in the room signs the petition after the presentation,” he said.
If the increased number of phone calls to his Ottawa office is any indication, his tour has also created increased awareness and interest.
Along the way he has been collecting petition signatures as well as letters of endorsement to present when his bill is debated in parliament sometime in late spring or early summer.
Saganash said he is interested to see what happens. Previously, when he presented a similar bill, the Liberals and Green Party members that were sitting in parliament were in support of it.
He is also pleased that the timing coincides with Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“I think it is important to have a fundamental gesture towards the First Peoples, and my bill represents that,” he said.”I’m hoping that will happen. It’s going to be a wonderful gift for the 150th of Canada.”