Indigenous MPP Sol Mamakwa declines to participate in oath to King Charles III

Deputy Ontario NDP leader Sol Mamakwa watched from the sidelines as many MPPs reaffirmed their allegiance to the monarchy. Richard Southern with why some Indigenous leaders are withholding their support for King Charles III.

By Richard Southern and Meredith Bond

Sol Mamakwa, an Indigenous Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario, did not participate in the oath to King Charles III at Queen’s Park Wednesday.

All MPPs are required to pledge allegiance to the monarch after being elected in June during their swearing-in ceremony. As a result, today’s reaffirmation ritual to swear allegiance to King Charles III was optional for MPPs.

NDP MPP Mamakwa declined to participate as MPPs rose in the legislature to pledge their allegiance to the new king.

Approximately half of the NDP MPP’s elected to not take the oath as well.

“For Indigenous people, it’s a very complex relationship that we have with the crown,” Mamakwa said. “I say that because there are things that are attached to the relationship with First Nations. I’m talking about colonialism. I’m talking about oppression. We live it every day as First Nations. It has become a way of life.”

Mamakwa said a few things need to happen with the new monarch in order to move forward in a good way. “One way is to acknowledge and apologize for the residential schools because there’s so many of our children, our ancestors that died.”

“I think to move in a progressive way, I would like to see King Charles III make an effort to make that change and also apologize regarding the residential schools,” he added. “I think there is a little bit of hope when you see the words he has mentioned to other First Nation leaders in the country.”

When Mamakwa was sworn into his second term as an NDP MPP for the riding of Kiiwetinoong back in June, he questioned the practice of pledging allegiance to the crown.

“It was hard. It’s the process. It’s the law. Without doing it, I wouldn’t be an MPP if I didn’t say those words,” Mamakwa said at the time.

Pledging to the Queen is unnecessary for a municipal setting, while some other provinces, including Alberta, have removed the requirement.

Mamakwa and NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin were also not in the chambers as MPPs sang “God Save the King.”

Bourgouin, who is of Metis descent and represents Mushkegowuk–James Bay, said he has never sat in the legislature during God Save the Queen when it was brought back four years ago and doesn’t plan on starting now.

“We’re at a time of reconciliation, and I don’t think it should have been brought back. So I’m not going to do it because now we have a new king,” explained Bourgouin.

When asked if Canada should be doing away with the monarchy, Mamakwa said he wasn’t quite sure how he felt.

“It is the governments that have not honoured respect to the treaties. And we’re supposed to share the resources, we’re supposed to share the benefits of these lands. Those treaties that we signed … if there were no treaties, there would be no Canada today,” said Mamakwa.

“We need the governments to start respecting Indigenous people in this country and in this province because enough is enough.”

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