This week’s appointment of Marc Miller as Indigenous Services minister is being met with optimism by some key stakeholders.
Miller had been serving as parliamentary secretary to Carolyn Bennett when she served as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald says she met Miller earlier this year at the launch of the Indigenous Languages bill.
Since being elected in 2015, Miller has learned to speak Mohawk and Archibald says she was impressed by his proficiency with the language.
She added that sometimes when a new minister is announced, there’s a concern about having to educate a brand new person on brand new issues.
“You don’t know who’s going to go into that position and what kind of experience they have,” she said.
“Minister Marc Miller has that grounding and experience with First Nations issues so that was definitely a positive,” she added.
Archibald says a number of those issues are captured in Towards a New Relationship: A Discussion Paper of First Nations Election Priorities. She added that other priorities focus on treaty implementation, lands and resources, and climate change.
Charlie Angus is the MP for Timmins-James Bay. He says he’s looking forward to working with Minister Miller.
“He proved himself to be a dedicated parliamentary secretary. I think with Mr. Miller we’re turning the page and I’m looking forward to sitting down and going through a number of issues with him,” said Angus.
“He knows that this is a very serious file and you can’t drop the ball on issues,” he added.
“You have to be able to respond, particularly whether we’re dealing with ongoing water problems in communities like Attawapiskat or the call for justice in Grassy Narrows,” he said.
Angus says Miller’s “make-or-break” issue will be “whether or not he continues to push the Prime Minister’s agenda of fighting justice for Indigenous children in court.”
“I’m hoping he’s going to advise the Prime Minister to do the right thing and drop the appeal and stop the court battle against the children and the child welfare system over compensation,” said Angus.