Getting It Right: Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty

IndigNation | by Bev Cardinal

Brace yourself for something unexpected: praise for JT and his merry Libs!

Before you flood Prairie Dog with e-mails pointing out that it’s deranged to praise Justin Trudeau just days after he chiselled his name into Canadian history as the country’s worst-dressed-ever prime minister, please let me assure you this is not about Captain Aladdin’s racist costume choices. There’s no defence for them, and this column isn’t about that scandal.

But I do have good reason to praise the current (for now) PM, along with his (for the moment) governing political party.

But first, some background.

Relationship Trouble

Many folks don’t know that Canada’s Treaty relationships are just those — relationships. These pivotal relationships between the Crown (yes, the British Crown and good ol’ Queen Liz) and First Peoples of this land began and continue at the highest level of our democracy. Their establishment and preservation are described in detail within the legal framework that precedes all others in this nation — the 1763 Royal Proclamation, still valid today.

The government of Canada is only involved as the “manager” of the Treaties — a secondary contract-administrator whose role is to develop and administer the legislation and policies anticipated by the Royal Proclamation.

It’s a big responsibility. So how has the “manager” done so far?

Not too well, unfortunately.

Take, for example, the constant legal challenges about the interpretation of Treaties and Aboriginal Rights. Then there’s the never-ending land claim negotiations. There’s the 150-plus years of intergenerational trauma directly traceable to residential and industrial schools, fatally flawed child and family welfare policies, and historically underfunded education, health, social welfare, housing and infrastructure policies. And let’s not forget the whole communities-barely-surviving-for-decades-without-potable-drinking-water thing, or the ignored Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, highly imperfect National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission process so dysfunctional it can literally only be accomplished one individual at a time.

The bungling continues despite the fact the Crown has on-the-ground representatives who should be able to help: a governor-general, and lieutenant governors and territorial commissioners. Alas, the people holding those offices often seem to have little to no understanding of Treaty relationships.

What’s this got to do with Masquerade Master and his mighty Liberals?

Well, they’re the ones who finally got something right.

Qualified Candidate

Earlier this year, the federal government — again, JT and the Liberals — recommended Canada’s governor general (and through her, Queen Elizabeth), appoint Russ Mirasty as Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous Lieutenant Governor, filling the vacancy left by the late Thomas Molloy. Mirasty was sworn-in in July but the official ceremony took place on Sept. 12.

It’s an extraordinary appointment.

Mirasty is a member of the Lac la Ronge Indian Band, a residential school survivor, a Cree language speaker, and a decorated and respected former RCMP member. He’s got the experience and perspective to do a great job.

“It’s about restoring relationships, and that’s the only way we’ll progress as a province,” Mirasty said at his ceremony. “It’s about how we make this better, how we move forward as a province on an equitable basis.”

Maybe I’m a PollyAnna, but I still believe in a better future. I believe Mirasty will put people first, and I’ll be following his new career with hope and anticipation!

Miigwetch! Marci!