January 29, 2019 1:01 pm
Updated: January 29, 2019 1:02 pm

Indigenous Winnipeg MP delivers speech in Cree in House of Commons

MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette in the House of Commons before delivering a speech in Cree.

Twitter / Robert-Falcon Ouellette
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A Winnipeg Member of Parliament made history Monday.

Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre, gave a speech in Cree at the House of Commons.

The speech, with the help of an interpreter, was simultaneously translated into English.

This marks the first time simultaneous translation services have ever been available for an Indigenous language in Parliament.

“It was a very proud, proud moment,” said Ouellette, who told 680 CJOB Monday afternoon that there was a two-year process to make this happen.

“I think it demonstrates to all Canadians that Indigenous people are full citizens and there are no half-citizens. This is historic.”

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The translation service will be an option in the House whenever an interpreter is available. For Ouellette’s speech, getting an interpreter to Ottawa required an unusual phone call.


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“I remember the interpreter, as well, was so, so excited to be there,” said Ouellette.

“He had been out on a dogsled just on Friday when he got the cell phone call asking if he would be able to come to the House of Commons.

“He said, ‘yes, I’m putting the dogs away right now’ and he jumped at it. He’s a university professor from the University of Saskatchewan and he travelled across the country in order to do this.”

Ouellette’s speech was in reference to a motion by one of his Conservative counterparts, regarding the creation of Dutch Heritage Day.

“I was able to talk about the connection between Indigenous people and the Netherlands – how Indigenous people fought in the Second World War in the Netherlands.”

WATCH: Local filmmaker hopes to inspire a Cree Barbie

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