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11 wishes for 2017 that will make Canada greener, more just and more equal

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Last January, KAIROS released its wish list for the year -- 10-plus-one hopes for the federal government and the provinces to fulfill. Two of these were realized: the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was launched and a national, rising price on carbon that integrates with provincial carbon pricing mechanisms was announced.

KAIROS also celebrated in January 2016 when the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. The Tribunal's ruling that the federal government discriminates against Indigenous children on reserve through the provision of second class health, education and child welfare services was unprecedented. Sadly, the government has yet to act on the Tribunal's ruling.

Our 2017 wish list:

  • The Canadian government's commitment to a feminist foreign policy becomes a reality, backed by political will and a budget. KAIROS wants to see the government demonstrate this commitment on the world stage by allocating at least 20 per cent of the international assistance budget to grassroots women's rights organizations building peace in conflict areas, including KAIROS partners.
  • Canada's international assistance is guided by the priorities and needs of the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the Global South, and not tied to Canadian commercial interests in those regions.
  • The federal government appoints an independent ombudsperson to ensure that Canadian mining companies respect human rights wherever they operate.
  • The government introduces new legislation for a federal environmental review process that incorporates Indigenous peoples' rights to free, prior and informed consent before projects can proceed on their territories.
  • Parliament reassesses the impact that new fossil fuel pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals would have on Canada's ability to fulfill its commitment to fight climate change.
  • The federal government provides open work permits to all migrant workers and agrees to grant them permanent residence.
  • The Canadian government implements and correctly applies Jordan's Principle, ensuring that Indigenous children have access to essential services.
  • The Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is rooted in genuine and respectful collaboration with Indigenous peoples, particularly with families of the victims. We want to see the Canadian government fix the serious gaps in the terms of reference and create a process that addresses the systemic causes of ongoing violence, ensuring that the need for such an inquiry never again arises.
  • The federal government's good words about implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, and the promise to renew the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada are matched with concrete, positive action in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.
  • In marking Canada's 150th birthday, all Canadians learn about their Treaty responsibilities, the violent process of colonization -- including the Indian Residential Schools system -- and the countless contributions that Indigenous peoples have made to Canada. 

As was the case in 2016, KAIROS' final wish for 2017 is that all provinces receive strong grades on KAIROS' Report Card: Provincial and Territorial Curriculum on Indigenous Peoples because they are implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #62.i that urges the provinces and territories to make curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and the historical and contemporary contributions to Canada of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples mandatory from Kindergarten to grade 12.

We saw some fulfillment of this wish in 2016 with Alberta making progress. The province has made substantial commitments to mandatory courses on the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties and the history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples for all K-12 students in provincially-run schools. For more on Alberta’ progress, visit: kairoscanada.org/what-we-do/indigenous-rights/windsofchange-report-cards#ab

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