Montreal – Public education and sustained institutional change are required to overcome the continued troubled relationship between Indigenous people and other Canadians. Those who lead Canada’s public institutions must spearhead the reconciliation effort, says a new paper from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
David Newhouse (chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies, Trent University) demonstrates how, as a result of achievements since the 1970s (including through the courts), reconciliation with Indigenous peoples has become a Canadian project. To make concrete progress, the policy community will need to become more knowledgeable about Indigenous issues. Education should be provided to public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the legacy of residential schools.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s priorities mark a change in tone and signal a willingness to reboot the relationship in hopes of getting it right this time. We should be optimistic, but we must also remember that huge challenges lie ahead,” says Newhouse, a member of the Onondaga Nation.
According to him, “all areas of public policy need to explicitly consider Indigenous aspirations and needs.” Indigenous peoples expect to be involved, and in some cases have a legal right to be involved, in policy actions that affect them – from resource development to federal-provincial-territorial relationships, child care policy, health policy and education.
Newhouse concludes that “reconciliation is a long game, and the effort will have to be sustained over generations.”
Indigenous Peoples, Canada and the Possibility of Reconciliation, by David Newhouse, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website (irpp.org).