MP for Bow River, Martin Shields, has been appointed Deputy Shadow Minister for Indigenous Services.
On November 9, Opposition leader Erin O’Toole announced his Shadow Cabinet, as well as Deputy Shadow Ministers on November 10. Shields will be working as Shadow Minister for Indigenous Relations Jamie Schmale. This was one of the first moves since the Conservatives won 119 seats in the 44th parliament.
“Number one, being elected is a great honour, but number two, working on a specific file, I think at this particular time brings tremendous issues, challenges, and opportunities,’’ Shields tells the Mail. “As we realize in this particular riding Siksika Nation is the most familiar to us in the sense of a land-based nation, and there is a tremendous number of people from Siksika in surrounding communities. It is at a really interesting time in the sense this particular riding, and in this position, we’ll be talking about Indigenous issues with legislation or proposed legislation nationwide.”
He looks forward to the position.
“I’m not Metis, I’m not Indigenous, but I have grown up in southern Alberta where Indigenous people have always been part of the community in my lifetime so I have some historical knowledge of Indigenous history in this part of the world, and as part of this riding I have worked with the Siksika Nation on legislation we have had or issues they have been working on,” he said.
Shields said reconciliation will be the primary focus of his work.
“Truth and reconciliation is a piece of legislation that Prime Minister Harper was involved with getting written, and I think there are a lot of pieces we talk about with truth and reconciliation. There was a piece of legislation in the past having to do with language that came through the Heritage Committee. It was about the Indigenous languages and the challenges of not losing those languages, and I was a huge proponent of that legislation.”
He is honoured to have been appointed.
“It’s humbling. I am not worried about titles or that kind of thing, but it is something because now you really have to be responsible for a particular topic. You need to do more research, you need to be knowledgeable, and you need to be listening to people about a whole variety of influences on this particular file,” he said. “There is a lot that comes with being given a file than just a title, and that’s a challenge and is what keeps us going.”