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Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller speaks to reporters after a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, as Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan looks on Nov. 20, 2019.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned to a Quebec MP and long-time personal friend on Wednesday to oversee the delivery of services to Indigenous communities.

Mr. Trudeau named Marc Miller as Indigenous Services Minister on Wednesday while the former minister on the file, Seamus O’Regan, was moved to Natural Resources.

Speaking outside of Rideau Hall, Mr. Miller said the Indigenous Services file is not one that can people can “jump in and jump out of,” adding former ministers still “feel very much a part of it.”

“We owe it to ourselves as Canadians to get this relationship right,” he said.

“It is an exceedingly complex one but it defines us as a nation, it defines us a people.”

Addressing the relationship is work that will have to unfold quietly in the background rather than on Twitter or in front of cameras, he said, adding that it is an area where political instincts “frankly fail you sometimes.”

Politicians often think in four-year increments or brag about “historic investments” that flow from court decisions or making up for broken promises, Mr. Miller said.

“You can’t run around claiming victory on those things,” he said.

“You have to quietly move forward and improve that relationship.”

In 2017, Mr. Miller made history when he made a speech in the House of Commons entirely in Mohawk, marking the first time the language had been spoken in the Commons or the Senate since Confederation.

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Miller began by speaking in Mohawk in response to a question and conceded he had been naive about how difficult it would be to learn the language.

“I’ve been studying about an hour a day in Mohawk but it is not an easy language,” he said.

He said learning Mohawk has allowed him to meet people passionate about their language and their identity.

“I am outsider to those communities and I’m very privileged to experience that," he said.

Mr. Miller is a former lawyer who focused on international and commercial law and worked in Montreal, Stockholm and New York City.

In his portfolio, he will be expected to work closely with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett to move forward with the government’s agenda.

Ms. Bennett is a veteran MP who held the same ministerial portfolio in the last Parliament. She was first elected in 1997 and represents the riding of Toronto-St. Paul’s. She has also served in other portfolios, including Aboriginal Affairs.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to lean on Ms. Bennett for the experience she has navigating relationships with Indigenous communities.

“It is a life’s work that people can’t pick up and put down,” she said.

“It is about building trust. I think we used to say rebuilding trust. I don’t think there could have ever been trust in that … colonial policies were based on a lot of lies.”

In response to Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the reappointment of Ms. Bennett.

“We look forward to engaging with the new Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, who has already demonstrated a personal commitment to First Nations and reconciliation,” Mr. Bellegarde added.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, welcomed new ministers, including Mr. Miller, and the return of Ms. Bennett. “I also call on Ministers newly entering portfolios that touch on Inuit realities to make the time to learn from us and work with us collaboratively,” he said in a statement.

David Chartrand, vice president of the Métis National Council, said his organization was “particularly pleased” by Dan Vandal’s appointment, a former Winnipeg city councillor of Métis decent, and that they were encouraged by the cabinet choices.

Mr. Vandal will also take on the file of Northern Affairs. At City Hall, Mr. Vandal helped develop Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Youth Strategy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet during a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday. The cabinet, which includes old faces and new, is comprised of 36 ministers who will be responsible for running the country during the Liberals' minority mandate.

The Canadian Press

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