Indigenous Government Program at IPAC
January, 2016 – guest blog post by Catherine MacQuarrie, Executive in Residence on Aboriginal Governance
It’s an exciting time for First Nation, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. As we prepare to mark Canada’s 150th birthday, it feels as if there is at last a collective will to deal with – as Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett put it – “the unfinished business of Confederation”. From the attention being paid by individuals, community groups and media to this country’s devastating history of Residential Schools, to the growing celebration of talented Indigenous artists and innovators, to the provincial premiers’ pledge to action and an unprecedented federal government commitment… well, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful.
But there is a lot of work ahead to realize these hopes and ensure that Indigenous peoples enjoy the same quality of life, living standards and opportunity as all other Canadians. Public servants in all orders of government, including Indigenous governments, will be deeply implicated in helping achieve these goals. It will mean we need to find ways to work together and to be prepared to try new things. For some, this will be the start of a brand new journey. Others may already be well along the road, but are now challenged by all the expectations and demands of citizens and political leaders.
I am so pleased to be part of IPAC’s own efforts to support education, reconciliation and renewed relationships. At the heart of IPAC’s mandate for almost 60 years is the belief that shared learning and dialogue around common challenges is the foundation of effective working relationships and of public service excellence. Now IPAC is bringing its unique strengths to support the development of new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments: relationships built on respect, cooperation and partnership. As Canada’s leading network of municipal, provincial/territorial and federal public servants across the country, we are committed to strengthening the capacity of our current membership to work more effectively and in partnership with First Nation, Inuit and Métis institutions and governments. And we want to increase our Indigenous membership, programs and services so that we can learn together and from each other.
Although I’ve just started as IPAC’s Senior Executive in Residence, there is already lots to build on. The particular challenges of Indigenous government administration have always had a place in our research, conferences and learning activities. The most recent issue of Canadian Public Administration for example, has two scholarly articles on two First Nations challenges: Improving Drinking Water Quality and Medical Relocation. In early March in Yellowknife, we feature a Northern Governance Conference – “Learning from One Another” being organized by IPAC- NWT in partnership with the GNWT, the Tlicho Government, the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy, Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and many others. Then, in late April as part of its innovative “Cafe Pracademique” policy-making series, IPAC Edmonton is hosting an exciting day-long workshop called “Connecting our Futures: Building Reconciliation Today”.
This is a just the start of what I hope will become an important and essential pillar of IPAC’s great range of programs and services! If you want to be part of the effort to grow our Indigenous membership, programs and services, or just want to learn more, please get in touch: CMacQuarrie@ipac.ca; on twitter @camacq or by phone: 613-914-8598