Opening remarks

Annual launch of Wapikoni Mobile’s 2018 shorts

October 10, 2018

The Honourable Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne :


I’m very pleased to be with you this evening to view the latest works of Indigenous youth. These works show once again that the right tools and Wapikoni’s inclusive approach can unleash the creative potential of many Indigenous people.

As a Quebec diplomat, I recently had the privilege of assisting president Manon Barbeau with her successful efforts to make Wapikoni an official partner of UNESCO. The appointment constitutes further international recognition for this jewel of Quebec savoir-faire, which already helps marginalized groups abroad, including in refugee camps, and wants to do more.

As a new senator, I’ll be called upon to take a position on issues that affect Indigenous Peoples, which is a major responsibility. The Senate reviews legislation from the House of Commons, but it also takes a particular interest in minorities. In 1958, James Gladstone was the first Indigenous person appointed to the Senate, two years before the First Nations obtained the right to vote in Canada. Our history is full of delays and racism!

Today, there are nine Indigenous senators. I’m aware that many Indigenous Peoples are ambivalent about the relevance of being represented in Parliament rather than building your own nations. The two aren’t incompatible. In June, nine young Indigenous leaders outlined for the Senate their vision of a new relationship between Canada and the First Nations. We saw the weight of the Indigenous senators during the debate on the legalization of cannabis. I must also note the constructive leadership of Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Dialogue is essential, and your involvement matters just as much as the politicians’ involvement.