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TORONTO – After a federal election that saw little movement in the number of seats, Indigenous leaders are expressing disappointment at the sidelining of Indigenous issues throughout the campaign.

In the months leading up to the election, the discovery of thousands of anonymous graves at the site of former residential schools across Canada made headlines. But Serpent River First Nation Chief Brent Bissaillon doesn’t understand why the problem all but disappeared during the campaign.

“Where is our transformative change? My community of Serpent River First Nation is home to two of the largest residential schools in Ontario. We need to heal from our intergenerational effects. And again, we haven’t heard anything about it during the campaign, ”he told an election panel on CTV News Monday night.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chief Roseanne Archibald agrees. The AFN even offered to host a leaders’ debate on Indigenous issues, but they failed to get all parties signed.

“Our internal poll showed that the majority of Canadians wanted to know what each of these parties was going to do to address truth and reconciliation, and that was not discussed enough,” Archibald told CTV News Channel Tuesday.

Bissaillon says there is a lack of awareness among the Canadian public regarding the history of the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

“Canadians are tired. We are tired of hearing about aboriginal issues. We are tired of listening. It’s uncomfortable. I understand. It is an uncomfortable thing to live with the truth of what your country has done. But we have to talk about it. We have to solve these problems, ”he said.

Dr James Makokis, a physician from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in northeastern Alberta, criticized the Liberals for calling an election that ended with almost the same result as the previous one.

Makokis calculated that the $ 600 million spent on the elections could have been used to build approximately 2,800 homes in First Nations communities and provide primary health care in all First Nations across the country for 16 and a half years.

“It gives you an idea of ​​what can be done, what could have been done with this amount of investment that was put into this election two years after the previous election,” Makokis told Your Morning on CTV on Tuesday. .

Pam Palmater, who is the chair of Indigenous governance at Ryerson University, is cautiously optimistic that a minority Liberal government with the NDP in the balance of power could lead to better outcomes for Indigenous communities.

“I have more hope because the Liberals are in a minority situation, which means they have to work with other parties and the NDP has always been very effective in pushing the Liberal government,” he said. she said Tuesday on the Your Morning show on CTV.

She says the NDP has spoken out in favor of stopping litigation with Indigenous families over the child welfare system, prosecution of abusers in residential schools, and upholding the rule of law. Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

“I think if you made these two parties work together, we could move forward on a Land Back program,” she added, referring to the Land Back movement which calls for control of land and resources to return to indigenous communities. .

Archibald also hopes that a minority parliament can foster better cooperation between parties and applauded the Liberal government’s investments in infrastructure for First Nations communities since they came to power in 2015.

“We will work with them. We have seen that they have been a willing partner, that they have made unprecedented investments in First Nations and their mandate since 2015. ”

RECORD THE NUMBER OF INDIGENOUS CANDIDATES

This election saw 77 First Nations, Métis and Inuit candidates on the ballot, more than any previous election.

However, only 11 were elected or are leading Tuesday afternoon. That’s almost the same number of elected officials in 2019, which saw 10 indigenous MPs claiming seats.

Newcomers include Blake Desjarlais in Edmonton Griesbach and Lori Idlout in Nunavut, both from the NDP. Desjarlais won a life-changing victory over incumbent Tory Kerry Diotte while Idlout replaced incumbent NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who did not seek re-election after winning in 2019.

Adam Chambers, who is Métis, will occupy the Simcoe North seat for the Conservatives.

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal and Parliamentary Secretary Yvonne Jones were both re-elected under the Liberal banner, alongside Dan Vandal, Jaime Battiste, Michael McLeod and Vance Badawey.

New Democrat MP Leah Gazan was also re-elected in Winnipeg Center.

Marc Dalton, who had only been an aboriginal MP in the Conservative caucus, was also re-elected in Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge – Mission in British Columbia.

With files from The Canadian Press

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