Who better to speak for First Nations than First Nations?

Who better to speak for First Nations than First Nations? This is to bring some clarity to the truncated and out-of-context quote that appeared in "First Nations slam Bill C-45" (Dec. 12). While I think the article covered one perspective in detail, it

This is to bring some clarity to the truncated and out-of-context quote that appeared in “First Nations slam Bill C-45” (Dec. 12). While I think the article covered one perspective in detail, it failed to outline in proper context the comments that I made during the interview with Jesse Winter on the topic.

Instead of dwelling on that, I urge anyone interested in seeing the complete interview which I have posted on my website, at www.ryanleef.ca. I will also be sending the complete interview to our Yukon First Nation leaders. Should anyone wish a complete record of the interview, please feel free to contact my office at ryan.leef@parl.gc.ca and we will be more than happy to forward that to you.

The essence of my remarks and comments can be summed up in this manner. I firmly believe that our self-governing First Nations deserve the right to deliver their message directly to senior ministers of our government. It is my job to be the conduit to facilitate that, so they are able to deliver their message with my assistance. Who better to speak for First Nations than First Nations?

I articulated clearly that I am always happy to carry their message forward, and have done so continuously throughout my tenure. I have also been a strong advocate for making the linkages necessary to see our First Nation leaders sit directly at the table, delivering their message to Ottawa, not through me to Ottawa.

We have been finding success in this approach and could certainly identify numerous occasions where they have had the ability to speak directly with cabinet ministers here in Ottawa and in the Yukon when ministers have attended the territory. This is a clear advantage to having an MP on the side of the government.

I continually seek opportunity for our First Nation leadership to provide testimony to parliamentary committees to ensure not only a northern perspective but an essential First Nation cultural and socio-economic picture. In partnership we have resolved key issues, identified and supported critical initiatives through direct funding. We continue to work to resolve outstanding concerns and take advantage of tremendous opportunities our territory has because of the Yukon’s progressive systems of First Nation governance.

Just last week, I was pleased to host several of Yukon’s chiefs and grand chief at a reception in my office, where they were able to spend valuable one-on-one time with several senior ministers. I know all sides of that occasion were very pleased to have had that opportunity and look forward to a continuance of the accessibility I have been able to create.

Ryan Leef

Member of Parliament, Yukon