Published Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:16AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 5, 2015 12:06PM EST
Aboriginal leaders in Quebec are very happy to see that Canada’s new Minister of Justice is an aboriginal woman.
Jody Wilson-Raybould was a Crown prosecutor and regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations before being appointed Justice Minister on Wednesday.
Her father is Bill Wilson, an aboriginal leader who successfully lobbied Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to include amendments concerning the First Nations when Canada patriated the Constitution.
Council chiefs in Kahnawake said that after years of acrimonious disputes with Ottawa, they hope their relationship with the federal government will improve.
Grand Chief Joe Norton said the Conservative goverment’s approach seemed to be “making us very irrelevant, I use that term quite often. and that’s quite disturbing.”
Chief Gina Deer is more optimistic.
“I’m just thrilled to see someone with her knowledge and her history being appointed,” said Deer.
She believes this could be the start of a new era of respect.
“It’s hard to understand a people when you’re not given all the information on who they are, and we are a nation. We are a people and we are different from the rest of the Canadian population.”
One key desire is an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Previous prime minister Stephen Harper refused to hold an inquiry, saying that most of the crimes had been solved.
An RCMP review of cases between 1980 and 2012 identified 1,017 aboriginal women who had been killed, while 164 had disappeared. 70 percent of those slain were killed by indigenous men.
The RCMP said its solve rate for those crimes was 90 percent.
Nakuset, the director of the Native Women’s Shelter, said she expected Wilson-Raybould would hold an inquiry.
“People have been asking for an inquiry for years and as an aboriginal woman I’m sure she knows someone who’s gone missing and she’ll want to work even harder,” she said.
Norton said he has heard promises of change in the past and often been disappointed when it failed to materialize.
“There’s always that difficulty of which master do you serve? First Nations or the Canadian public at large,” said Norton.