Manitoba fails to keep reconciliation promise: AG


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The Manitoba government has failed to follow through on its commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the auditor general says.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/04/2022 (221 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Manitoba government has failed to follow through on its commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the auditor general says.

In his report, released Thursday, Tyson Shtykalo made five recommendations, including that the province institute mandatory training for civil servants on Indigenous principles and rights.

In March 2016, the province passed the Path to Reconciliation Act, which affirmed Manitoba’s commitment to reconciliation and to be guided by the commission’s calls to action.

Manitoba auditor general Tyson Shtykalo. (Free Press files)

The government hasn’t yet developed a strategy for reconciliation as required under the law, the auditor’s report concludes.

“In this audit, we wanted to determine whether the government has been fulfilling its commitments under the Act. Unfortunately, it hasn’t,” Shtykalo commented in the report.

One of the other recommendations was mandatory training for civil servants on Indigenous principles and rights, which the government said it will adopt.

Reconciliation efforts were lacking cross-government co-ordination and no direction was given to departments, the report stated. The legislation requires each cabinet member to promote measures to advance reconciliation through the work of their department and across government, which didn’t happen, it said.

Five departments were examined and the only minister with a mention of reconciliation in their mandate letter was former Indigenous reconciliation minister Eileen Clarke, who had promoted initiatives to advance reconciliation and to recognize the contributions of Indigenous peoples to the founding of Manitoba.

Clarked resigned in July 2021, saying her voice was not being heard.

The auditor recommended the minister responsible for Indigenous reconciliation — Alan Lagimodiere — promptly engage with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit representatives from all sectors of society, “to determine how best to show regard for the four principles outlined in the law: respect, engagement, understanding and action.”

His department should take what it learns from that engagement and work with the Civil Service Commission to develop a mandatory course on how to show regard for the four principles, and make training on the history of Indigenous peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and Aboriginal rights and Aboriginal-Crown relations mandatory for all public servants.

It recommended the minister ensure the translation of the annual reports as required by the law.

Lagimodiere responded by saying he’ll examine the report and work on its recommendations.

“I am pleased to confirm that the Public Service Commission will be implementing mandatory training for the public service and we have also recently announced funding to Indigenous language services in our province,” Lagimodiere said in a prepared statement.

Premier Heather Stefanson said reconciliation is a priority outlined in the throne speech and that her government is committed to move forward on it.

“Obviously, we want to seek the advice and wisdom of those in our First Nations and from the Indigenous community to ensure we’re listening to them as to how we can do this. This is going to be driven by them, not us.”

Critics said the Progressive Conservatives wasted six years.

“Premier Stefanson is no different than Brian Pallister,” said Ian Bushie, the NDP’s critic for Indigenous affairs. “We have the same inaction on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

The PC government’s attitude may be shifting “a little” but it has taken too long, said Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.

“It’s a lot of lost time and a lot of lost opportunity, especially when you consider the dire straits that many First Nation and Indigenous people live in right now because of provincial government policies,” Lamont said.

Path to Reconciliation Report

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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