N.B. forms working group to address Truth and Reconciliation Commission report

People walk to honour Rodney Levi in Red Bank, New Brunswick on Friday June 19, 2020. Indigenous leaders in New Brunswick are renewing a call for an independent, Indigenous-led public inquiry to investigate systemic racism and two recent police shootings in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray.

Five years after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission finalized its report, the New Brunswick government has formed a committee to look into working on its calls to action.

The report’s 535-page summary was released in the summer of 2015 and included 94 government recommendations.

Among those were holding a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care, and addressing the population’s overrepresentation in the correctional system.

A release issued by the province says the focus of the working group will be to “examine and address” these 94 calls to action.

READ MORE: Talks about New Brunswick public inquiry into systemic racism remain stalled

Co-chaired by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn and Regional Chief Roger Augustine, the All Nations and Parties Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation will be made up of members from the Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqey and Peskotomuhkati Nations, as well as the four political parties that make up New Brunswick’s legislative assembly.

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“I am eager to get to work to ensure we bring forward meaningful change,” says Dunn in a release issued Thursday.

“I want this group to serve as an accountability body that provides a forum for meaningful and culturally relevant engagement.”

Dunn, a Progressive Conservative MLA representing Saint John Harbour, has said reconciliation is an on-going process — as the province and Premier Blaine Higgs remain firmly against an inquiry into systemic racism in New Brunswick.

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Augustine calls the formation of the group a “good start.”

“Honouring the past and reconciling the future should be every New Brunswickers’ agenda,” he says in the release.

“Our people are long overdue for real work toward respecting our treaty rights.”

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Rounding out the working group are Chief Rebecca Knockwood of the Mi’gmaq Nation, Chief Ross Perley of the Wolastoqey Nation, Chief Hugh Akagi of the Peskotomuhkati Nation at Skutik, President Barry Labillois of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council, PC MLA for St. Croix Kathy Bockus, Liberal MLA for Miramichi Bay-Neguac Lisa Harris, Green Party Leader David Coon and People’s Alliance LMA for Miramichi Michelle Conroy.

The province says the group will start meeting in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: (2015) Truth and Reconciliation Commission to release final report on residential schools on Tuesday