The federal government will not rest until it can make life better for indigenous people across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday during the lone press conference from his cabinet's retreat in Sudbury.
The federal government's ongoing relationships with First Peoples, the provinces and the United States dominated discussions during the cabinet retreat at the Laurentian University campus, from Saturday Aug. 20, to Monday, Aug. 22.
“The relationship between Canada and First Peoples is so important, and the trust we need to have in each other is so essential to our shared success, that we must continue to make this relationship a priority moving forward,” Trudeau said during his opening remarks.
The prime minister said he was deeply touched when Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie praised him and his government's work to improve Canada's relations with its Aboriginal peoples.
But Downie's praise, to a live audience of 11.7 million people, also came with a personal challenge to Trudeau to repair a mended relationship.
“We have an awful lot of work to do and it's not going to happen overnight,” Trudeau told reporters Monday.
Trudeau said the government's actions, including $8.4 billion earmarked from the last budget to strengthen indigenous communities, and the decision to launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, are positive steps in the right direction to improve the lives of Canada's First Peoples.
When questioned about the federal government's role in the Ring of Fire development, Trudeau said he and his cabinet discussed a “broad range of resource projects” during their Sudbury retreat.
He said the previous Conservative government was detached from the Ring of Fire project, but his government plans to be an active partner with all provinces on natural resource development projects.
Trudeau said his announcement to help fund the Maley Drive extension in April was an example of his government taking cues from local experts and leaders on how to best spend federal dollars.