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As Canada forms its next government, the Prime Minister’s Office will be preparing ministerial mandate letters. In this special Intelligence Memo series, policy experts highlight key challenges and priorities in each minister’s portfolio.

From: Donald Drummond

To: The incoming Ministers of Crown‑Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services

Date: October 25, 2019

As you embark as Ministers of Crown‑Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services, with an eye to shifting focus from inputs to outcomes, I ask you recommit your efforts to:

  • Work to fundamentally alter the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples. To a large degree that relationship has in the past been guided by a government focus on programs, money spent and narrow criteria of accountability. A new and better relationship will focus on outcomes for Indigenous Peoples. As part of this effort you will consult with Indigenous Peoples on measures of well-being, ensuring to capture not only the standard metrics such as health and education, but attaching great importance to Indigenous culture and languages. Plans should then be drawn up to close gaps identified with the non-Indigenous population. This will require thorough consultation with Indigenous Peoples. 
  • Complete the re-organization of responsibilities between the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services Canada to best serve the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.
  • Lead a whole-of-government approach to the renewal of a nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationship with Indigenous Peoples such as implementing the permanent bilateral processes and including Indigenous representatives in federal‑provincial-territorial dialogues.
  • Lead our government’s work in the North to advance a shared Arctic Leadership model and a new Arctic policy for Canada.
  • Support northern communities facing immediate climate adaptation challenges.
  • Increase the number of comprehensive modern treaties and new self‑government agreements and accelerate progress on existing rights and recognition tables.
  • Continue the work with the Minister of Finance on a new fiscal relationship with Indigenous Peoples. In order to best support autonomy and capacity, that relationship should move from annual funding with multi-layers of accountability to multi-year funding with streamlined accountability, and consideration should be given to replacing funding with a block, statutory payment.
  • As a member of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples, chaired by the Minister of Justice pursue these objectives:
    • support Indigenous Peoples in their work to rebuild and reconstitute their nations, advancing self-determination, and, for First Nations, facilitating the transition away from the Indian Act and toward self-government while ensuring implementation of pre-Confederation, historic, and modern treaties and agreements;
    • advance positions that are in line with the resolution of past wrongs towards Indigenous Peoples, promote co-operation over adversarial processes, and advance a recognition of rights approach.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  
  • Support the work of reconciliation, work with provinces and territories, and with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, to drive progress on implementation of recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and establish a National Council for Reconciliation.
  • Engage in a collaborative process to develop, with First Nations, a National Action Plan to address the root causes of violence experienced by First Nations women and girls.
  • Support the work of Minister of Health in making systemic change to reduce the health inequities between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians to make reforms to child and family services and to develop governance models that bring control and jurisdiction back to communities.
  • Work with residential school survivors, First Nations, Inuit, the Métis Nation, provinces, territories, and educators to incorporate Aboriginal and treaty rights, residential schools, and Indigenous contributions into school curricula and to improve education outcomes of indigenous students.
  • Working with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation leadership and local stakeholders and with the support of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, lead the government’s efforts to develop the vision for a national space for Indigenous Peoples at 100 Wellington.
  • Continue work to improve the Nutrition North program, and move forward on devolution in Nunavut.
  • Work with the Minister of Heritage Canada on the revitalization of Indigenous languages.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice to implement changes necessary to end the over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the criminal justice and correctional systems.
  • Work with the Minister of Finance and others to remove obstacles and create opportunities and capacity for Indigenous Peoples to participate more fully in the economy.

Don Drummond is the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in Global Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University.

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