On Wednesday, Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag introduced his first Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons, in an effort to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act to include representatives from the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
The bill, titled “C-374, An Act to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act,” seeks to add three new representatives to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, one for the First Nations, Metis and Inuit.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Act currently provides a representative from each province and territory to the board. There is no formal representation of Indigenous peoples, organizations or governments on the board, which has existed for nearly 100 years.
The board has advised the Canadian government on the heritage designation of places, persons and events that have shaped Canada’s history since 1919.
It receives about 70 new nominations for desgniations a year, and it considers any nomination that demonstrates its influence on Canadian history. The program’s current priorities are to recognize under-represented stories of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, women and diverse ethnocultural communities.
- RELATED: Putting Surrey on the historical map
“I believe it is necessary to increasingly break down the walls of exclusion which have historically existed between the Federal Government and Indigenous peoples in Canada,” said Aldag, who managed parks and historic sites at Parks Canada for 32 years before becoming an MP in 2015.
“It is my belief that the restriction of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to only recognize provinces and territories within our Canadian system is an outdated legacy of Canada’s historic mistreatment and structural exclusion of Indigenous peoples to full acknowledgement in Canadian society.”
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation released a statement in support of Bill C-374.
“Central in the work of reconciliation is this is the recognition that Canada, as a nation, has not accurately or effectively portrayed the perspectives of indigenous peoples in the telling of our collective history,” the statement reads. “So long as this continues, Canadians and visitors to this country will be prevented from knowing not only who we were, but will be denied an understanding of what we can become.
“Including indigenous perspectives and histories in commemorating national historic sites is paramount. Ensuring there is a clear strategy to commemorate and honour community perspectives on the residential schools is in our national interest.”