Justin Trudeau wants to rename National Aboriginal Day

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      The prime minister's annual statement on National Aboriginal Day came with a surprise this year.

      Justin Trudeau said it's the government's intention to rename this day as National Indigenous Peoples Day”.

      He opened his statement by noting that the summer solstice, June 21, was designated as National Aboriginal Day more than 20 years ago.

      “Every year, we join together on this day to recognize the fundamental contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation have made to the identity and culture of all Canadians," Trudeau said. "The history, art, traditions, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples have shaped our past, and continue to shape who we are today."

      He also reiterarated his oft-stated claim that no relationship is more important to Canada than the one with indigenous people.

      He emphasized that his government is "determined to make a real difference in the lives of Indigenous Peoples". This, he suggested, will come "by closing socio-economic gaps, supporting greater self-determination, and establishing opportunities to work together on shared priorities". 

      In the meantime, Trudeau's support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Site C dam has put him at odds with many indigenous leaders in B.C., including Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

      Indigenous organizations have filed court actions trying to block both projects from proceeding.

      The B.C. Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal have both dismissed judicial-review applications by the Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations against the Site C dam approval.

      B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan has promised to subject the $8.8-billion megaproject to an independent review by the B.C. Utilities Commission.