Indigenous leaders say they are hopeful that new Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree will take inspiration from his predecessor’s approach with organizations, community members and leadership.
David Pratt, the first vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said outgoing minister Marc Miller did a “exemplary job” on the file.
He said he hopes the new minister has the same motivation and desire to build meaningful relationships.
“Every portfolio shuffle is a little disappointing,” said Pratt. Still, he said the group is “looking forward” to working with the new minister and moving forward on reconciliation.
“The days of prime ministers and premiers sitting together making decisions about Indigenous Peoples is over,” he added.
“And we need to be included in all conversations about our rights, our lands and our children’s future.”
Anandasangaree is one of seven new ministers who were sworn in on Wednesday as part of a major reset to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
The human-rights lawyer was first elected in 2015 to represent Scarborough-Rouge Park in the Greater Toronto Area.
He served as the parliamentary secretary for a previous Crown-Indigenous relations minister from 2019 until 2021, and he sat on the House Indigenous and northern affairs committee for six years.
Miller, who has served as Crown-Indigenous relations minister since 2021, is taking on a new role as the immigration minister.
Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron echoed Pratt’s comments and noted that the new minister’s previous experiences mean he is already familiar with the files.
The NDP’s critic for Crown-Indigenous relations, Lori Idlout, isn’t as optimistic.
She said the government has broken “far too many promises” to Inuit, First Nations and Métis Peoples.
Idlout cited ongoing housing crises and infrastructure gaps, in addition to the government’s “slow” implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
“Another restart on the Crown-Indigenous Relations portfolio must see changes towards improvements,” said Idlout.
“Minister Anandasangaree has a monumental task ahead of him.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2023.