Where do we start? What do we do? How do we keep it going?
On January 23, 2017, twenty-five senior leaders from Indigenous organizations, federal and provincial governments, from academia, and from civil society accepted an invitation from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) to participate in a Leaders Dialogue Circle to talk about public service roles and responsibilities in reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Metis in Canada.
The event was organized as part of IPAC’s 2017 National Year of Dialogue for Reconciliation and Renewed Relationships. Throughout 2017, IPAC is hosting regional and national dialogues, bringing public sector administrators and officials together with administrators and leaders of Indigenous governments and organizations to discuss shared challenges. These events create opportunities to learn from each other, to talk about what renewed relationships could mean, and to establish new networks and working relationships.
“Reconciliation is the most important nation-building project in Canada since the railway”.
Building on a recent essay for IRPP by David Newhouse of Trent University entitled “Indigenous Peoples, Canada and the Possibility of Reconciliation”, the Leaders Circle was non-partisan, non-political discussions on the opportunities and challenges public services face in supporting Canadian governments achieve what Professor Newhouse described as “the most important nation-building project since the railway”.
The dialogue, held on the unceded, traditional territory of the Algonquin, used the format of a traditional First Nation’s talking circle that gives each person an opportunity to speak and be heard. Participants are encouraged to speak honestly and from the heart, and to listen attentively and with respect. Participant’s comments were not for attribution. This summary report shares only the main observations from the dialogue.