Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister and an all-female, all-Indigenous delegation returned home from a recent trip to Aotearoa-New Zealand with much more a signed Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement between the two countries, delegation members say.
The Canadian delegation included such leaders as National Indigenous Economic Development Board chair Dawn Madahbee Leach, University of Manitoba professor and academic and research director at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Brenda Gunn, Executive Director of Education for the Matawa First Nations Sharon Nate and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada president Gerri Sharpe.
One of the delegates said developing the relationship between the two countries on an official level will have future benefits for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike.
“The deepening of the Canada-New Zealand relationship on Indigenous trade issues and inter-governmental collaboration is a powerful catalyst for change. Both Canada and New Zealand are beginning to understand the value and complexities of Indigenous knowledge and kinship. Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike prosper when Indigenous jurisdiction and authority, and cultural values and languages, are affirmed and celebrated; when fair solutions to land-related claims are implemented, and when reliable community infrastructure is realized,” said Dawn Madahbee Leach. “Sharing knowledge in partnership, and increasing the participation of Indigenous peoples within the domestic economy and international trade will benefit all of Canada and New Zealand. The relationships we create and nourish today between the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the Māori of Aotearoa-New Zealand will help ensure the wellness of our future generations.”
Gunn echoed the sentiment.
“Aotearoa-New Zealand and Canada are two countries on a similar path of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the state. This delegation has been an opportunity to strengthen our partnership as we work toward a future determined by Indigenous voices,” she said.
The delegation met with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, a Māori post-secondary learning institution and environment, located in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, as well as a number of high-ranking New Zealand government officials. And the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board.
They followed those up in Auckland meeting with Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust, the National Urban Māori Authority and the Whānau Ora (family health), a visit toTolaga Bay, where they toured a school and discussed climate change, as well as how local Māori leaders protected community members from COVID-19 and then a meeting with Waitangi National Trust leaders from across the country to bless the bilateral Arrangement in the same area where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840.
The Treaty of Waitangi guides relations between the Māori and the Government of Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Hajdu was effusive in her praise for the trip’s usefulness and the strength of the delegation.
“Leading this delegation of incredible women has been inspiring, moving, and has helped to strengthen and build new relationships with the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Our meetings with Māori, government agencies and local communities taught us so much, and reaffirmed the need to continue our work to honour, respect, and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Hajdu said. “Our newly signed Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement will create formal ways for our two countries to do this work together. We have learned a lot from each other. Now we go forward to create better futures for the next generations.”
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase