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Ottawa adds $305M to Indigenous COVID-19 response, says UNDRIP legislation remains priority

Thursday, August 13, 2020 @ 10:32 AM | By Ian Burns

The federal government is investing an additional $305 million to help Indigenous peoples in their fight against COVID-19.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced the top-up of its Indigenous Community Support Fund Aug. 12, bringing its total investment to $685 million. He said the money “offers further concrete support for on-the-ground community solutions that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.”

“Health and safety remains our priority and we will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations to support a strong and comprehensive pandemic response,” he said.  

The fund can be used for a wide variety of measures such as supporting elders and vulnerable community members, addressing food insecurity, mental health assistance and emergency response services. It will be distributed through a combination of allocations directly to First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership, and needs-based funding, which will be application driven. This funding will be available to First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, as well as Indigenous communities and organizations serving Indigenous peoples, including First Nations living off-reserve as well as Inuit and Métis living in urban centres, on an application basis.

Miller also addressed his government’s commitment to bringing in legislation on implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). He said the timing of such a move was not something he could discuss publicly, noting agreements had been reached with all parties in the House of Commons to only introduce legislation concerning COVID-related matters.

“As we resume Parliament then we would revert to what we’ve been doing normally, which is the agenda that we would have as set out in the Throne Speech and in the various [ministerial] mandate letters,” he said. “[But] it still remains an utmost priority of the government to ensure that UNDRIP is put forward.”

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