Report Released by the ad hoc POGG Aboriginal-Canada Think Tank Committee
This paper addresses the critical issues of First Nations’ healthcare, education, economic development, governance and the Indian Act as well as the tenuous relationship between First Nations and federal, provincial and territorial governments. The overarching principle of this paper is that all Canadians – First Nations and Non-Aboriginals – be treated equally.
It is clear that education, employment and economic development on and off reserves are critical to the way forward on the issues detailed in this report. Training and apprenticeship opportunities must be created such that First Nations young people - Canada’s fastest growing demographic – can participate fully in natural resource and other developments in Canada.
First Nations must be involved in federal, provincial and territorial decisions on healthcare. The Kelowna Accord should be revisited as it contains practical recommendations concerning First Nations health services. In addition, the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples and the Romanow Report state that an integrated partnership model is vital to the development of effective and efficient First Nations’ health policy.
The government should establish a Relocation Policy in conjunction with leaders of bands in remote locations. Band/reserve relocation to more suitable lands would improve opportunities for self-sustainment, healthcare, education and employment.
An important step in the way forward for First Nations would be that the government reaffirms the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by issuing, in consultation with the Aboriginal peoples, a modern Canadian Royal Proclamation that reflects 21st century language and issues. As part of the commemoration and celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, it is recommended that, as envisioned by William Commanda, Victoria Island, Ottawa be ceded to the First Nations for the ASINABKA National Indigenous Centre.
Implementation of the recommendations in this report should ease tensions between governments and First Nations and improve their socio-economic standards bringing them closer to those enjoyed by other Canadians. Additionally, Canada should become compliant with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.