Statement by Ministers on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Ottawa, Ontario (March 21, 2022) – The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, issued the following statement today to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

“Today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we reiterate our commitment to stand together against racism and discrimination. During these times of global uncertainty, it is more important than ever to recognize and address the effects of racism and discrimination. It is in this spirit that the Government of Canada has continued to work with Indigenous Peoples to build a more inclusive and reconciled country for all.

Central to this work has been addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health services. For the past year, the Government of Canada has supported and followed the lead of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners as they engage their communities in dialogues about co-developing new distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation. Together, we will move forward and find a path that leads to high-quality and culturally relevant health services, free of racism, designed and led by those they serve. This work has been guided by Joyce’s Principle—it is essential that Indigenous Peoples feel respected and safe when seeking health services, no matter where they live, and that they are able to access services without facing discrimination. We also continue work to improve cultural safety, recognize Indigenous knowledge and support Indigenous-led health services, which are all integral pieces of eliminating racism in health systems.

We are also working with Indigenous communities to address the ongoing legacy of residential schools. The locating of potential graves around former residential schools across the country are a stark reminder of the pain and lasting harm caused by these institutions, and many Canadians now are more aware of what Indigenous Peoples across the country have known all along - these institutions were created as a result of racist and colonial policies. We are taking accountability for the Government of Canada’s involvement in residential schools, and will continue to listen and support the needs of Indigenous leadership, Survivors, their families and communities as the difficult work of searching for unmarked graves and commemorating missing children continues. We encourage everyone in Canada to continue to learn about residential schools and how we can address their legacy. Better understanding our history is necessary to renewing our relationships and building a reconciled country where racism, discrimination and all forms of hatred are not tolerated.

Similarly, violence against Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in Canada is a national tragedy; Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people experience higher rates of violence and are overrepresented as victims of crime. The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls identified loss of culture, identity, family connections and abuse as amongst the root causes of this national tragedy, many of which were perpetuated by the residential school system and its foundation of racist, colonial policies. As outlined in the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, we continue to make investments and work with Indigenous partners, families and survivors to implement programs and policies aimed at addressing this tragedy, including the Cultural Spaces for Indigenous Communities program, launched in 2021. This new program funds opportunities for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals to access culture and language, and strengthen identities by re-establishing and revitalizing cultural spaces.

We also remain committed to addressing the harms caused by the discriminatory underfunding of First Nations child and family services. On December 31, 2021, we signed Agreements-in-Principle (AIPs) with the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and counsel for the Moushoom and Trout class actions. These AIPs are related to compensation for those harmed by these actions and aim to achieve long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program to ensure that no child faces discrimination again. Additionally, the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families was enacted on January 1, 2020. The ongoing implementation of the Act will provide a path for Indigenous governments, bodies and communities to exercise jurisdiction in relation to child and family services so that they can decide what is best for their children, their families and communities.

In addition to the important work that we are undertaking with partners to address the impacts of past discriminatory policies, we are also working internally to create a more diverse and inclusive public service. In response to the Privy Council Clerk’s Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service, our departments are actively supporting grassroots employee networks related to diversity and inclusion and promoting associated learning opportunities. Diversity and Inclusion Champions have also been appointed, whose roles will complement the important efforts underway by employee networks. These networks lift up the voices of Indigenous employees, visible minorities, 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, and persons with disabilities, among others.

While these are just a few examples of how the Government of Canada continues to address the wrongs of the past, more work needs to be done, and we will remain a committed ally for inclusion and change as we continue this fundamental work. We encourage everyone to reflect on the important role that diversity plays in contributing to the unique identity we have as Canadians. We must not lose sight of who we are – and who we strive to be – as we continue to build a more inclusive country in which the rights of all are respected and where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.”


For more information, media may contact:

Alison Murphy
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

Justine Leblanc
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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