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SENATORS’ STATEMENTS — The Honourable Murray Sinclair—The Honourable Dan Christmas

November 15, 2022

Honourable senators, I rise today to congratulate and recognize the humbling and inspirational leadership of our former colleague the Honourable Murray Sinclair and our too-soon-retiring colleague and my seatmate Senator Christmas. These two outstanding First Nations leaders are well recognized for their countless contributions with and for Indigenous peoples in their communities, regions, the country and the world over. Today, Queen’s University in Kingston installed the Honourable Murray Sinclair as its first Indigenous and fifteenth chancellor, and awarded Senator Christmas an honorary PhD in Law.

Many of us are well aware of Chancellor Sinclair’s numerous well-deserved honours, his leadership at the bar and on the bench as the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba and the second in Canada and his work exposing Canada to the human rights and Charter violations, systemic discrimination and overrepresentation in the child welfare and criminal legal systems, including issues of murdered and missing Indigenous peoples that dates back decades. He co-chaired the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since issuing the report in 2015, his commitment to seeing all 94 Calls to Action implemented has not wavered. Most recently, he urged us to fix Bill C-5 to meet the Calls to Action that address the mass incarceration of Indigenous peoples by freeing judges from the shackles of mandatory minimum penalties.

With wisdom, thoughtfulness and clarity, he continues to urge and inspire all of us to do and be better.

Senator Christmas is also a brilliant leader and advocate with a kind and generous heart. He has worked tirelessly to safeguard Mi’kmaq sovereignty and treaty rights in Nova Scotia and urge reconciliACTION. Before coming here, Senator Christmas was instrumental in taking his community from near bankruptcy to its current circumstances of being one of the most successful and thriving First Nations in this country. In his home community of Membertou and elsewhere, he continues to work to address the persistent challenges that too many face at the hands of discriminatory attitudes and systems that persist.

Senator Christmas’ outstanding achievements and service have been previously recognized with numerous awards and honorary degrees, and among the mountain of his contributions here, many of us will always remember his most touching tribute to his World War II veteran father.

Honourable senators, please join me in celebrating the wonderful recognition of these two amazing, inspirational and fabulous leaders. Meegwetch. Thank you.

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