Recognizing 3 founders of Canada could make country whole: Phil Fontaine

Recognizing 3 founders of Canada could make country whole: Phil Fontaine

The Walrus magazine's national tour made its stop in Saskatoon on Monday evening.

The Saskatoon stop is one of 13 and the theme of the tour is Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation titled Conversations about Canada: We Desire a Better Country. 

Phil Fontaine, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations spoke at the event regarding reconciliation with Canada and the Indigenous population of the land.

Fontaine said the three founding peoples of Canada should be recognized as the British, the French and the Indigenous people who were living on the land prior to first contact. 

"It would set the record straight," Fontaine said. "It would make Canada whole and the correct and powerful narrative of Canada's origins will become part of the shared story of every Canadian for generations to come." 

Indigenous health

Jay Pitter and Alika Lafontaine both appeared on CBC Radio's Blue Sky on Monday afternoon.

Colonialist effects on health were the subject of Lafontaine's thoughts Monday.

An anaesthesiologist, Lafontaine said decisions made in regard to Indigenous health — such as transporting someone out of the community for resuscitation — are made in Ottawa rather than in the community.  

"In many ways, a patient's voice is suppressed," he said.

"I think what we're seeing in Canada is that this just isn't acceptable for patients living off-reserve and I don't think it should be acceptable for patients living on reserve as well."

Housing

Pitter said Canadians are more segregated from each other than before. She mentioned housing prices keeping people from getting into the market.

"We have some entire neighbourhoods which are very sort of like class and culturally monolithic," Pitter said.

She said her talk focused on the need of Canadians to do more than just tolerate each other — but to develop meaningful and profound relationships with each other.

"We need to acknowledge that systems have disadvantaged Indigenous peoples across this country and we need to actually back up reconciliation with dollars, real dollars," Pitter said.

Pitter, who was not born in Canada, came to Canada when she was four. Pitter said when her mother immigrated, she was able to return to school in Canada, buy a property and move out of social housing.

"When I as a newcomer look at my own story — one of ascension and opportunity — I cannot help but to feel uncomfortable about the fact that in many ways, I've been afforded more opportunities on this land than the first peoples."