The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba may soon follow the example of local professional sports events that acknowledge they're taking place on Indigenous land.

The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba may soon follow the example of local professional sports events that acknowledge they're taking place on Indigenous land.

On Tuesday, Premier Kelvin Goertzen — who has been Manitoba's caretaker premier for less than a week — indicated such an Indigenous land acknowledgment may happen when the session resumes in the fall.

"I think there’s a place for it in the Manitoba legislature," he said at an unrelated event. "That's something I'm very open to."

The Tory premier added there would need to be consultation before such a message is included with the prayer said at the start of the legislature's daily proceedings.

The NDP Opposition says it has been asking for an Indigenous land acknowledgement since 2017, and there's no need for further consultation.

"To me, that's a stall tactic," NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine said Tuesday.

The New Democrats previously raised the issue in discussions with the government, and northern NDP MLA Ian Bushie brought it forth again in May, in the form of a private member's resolution.

"In an era of reconciliation, it is imperative for the legislature to acknowledge and honour the Indigenous communities," Bushie's motion said, noting the province is on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe, Dakota, Cree, Anishininew, Dene and Inuit people and the homeland of the Métis.

The resolution was "talked out" by MLAs and ran out of allotted time before it could go to a vote.

Fontaine also expressed concern the government is looking at a shortened session when it returns Oct. 6.

With a new Progressive Conservative leader and premier to be chosen at a party gathering Oct. 30, the government recently agreed to scrap five contentious bills that were to be debated this fall and focus on passing necessary budget legislation.

Amid what's expected to be a rough fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fontaine said she's worried MLAs will sit for just five days and not be called back to the house until March.

"We're in extraordinary times," she said. "To think that a government cannot be in the house dealing with the things that they need to be dealing with and not being held accountable for almost a year, that's not good governance."

Goertzen said the schedule for the fall session of the legislature has not been set.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

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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