On May 12, the Southwest Ontario Region Chapter of IPAC held our event “Making Connections” at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario.The event explored what it means to be a public servant in an era of Truth and Reconciliation. Indigenous leaders and public servants spoke about their experiences with public service. Participants learn about program and service delivery to indigenous communities; and contributed to how we can build connections between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
On December 1, 2016 one hundred and twenty people gathered at the Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on invitation from the Manitoba Federal Policy and Planning Network – a group of Government of Canada employees responsible for development and implementation of policy and planning in their respective regional offices. The federal network wanted to listen to the community and learn about current collaborative approaches and initiatives in Manitoba, to explore and understand ideas and paths to a transformed future, and to discuss possible next steps in collaboration with Indigenous organizations in Manitoba.
On February 2nd, 2017, IPAC Manitoba hosted a full day discussion of how the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be implemented in the Child Welfare System in Manitoba.
When IPAC decided to undertake a National Year of Dialogue for Reconciliation and Renewed Relationships with Indigenous Peoples, who knew it would be a time when honest, respectful cross-cultural conversation and learning not to fear “the other” was going to be such a big issue for the human race?
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Qalipu First Nation Councilor Francis Skeard. Mr. Skeard is currently serving his second term as a Qalipu Councilor for the Glenwood Ward and works as the Regional Ecosystem Director for the Forest Services Branch, Forestry and Agrifoods Agency. He has been an Institute for Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) member for many years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience, which he was happy to share with us. Mr. Skeard was born in Mount Moriah, Newfoundland and now lives in Gander, Newfoundland with his wife, Deneka, and two daughters.
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 first event for IPAC’s National Year of Dialogue was hosted by our National Capital Region group with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. “Building Understanding of Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples” was a panel discussion featuring Dr. Aaron Franks, SSHRC Visiting Fellow in Indigenous Research and Reconciliation, Hubert Lussier, Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship, Heritage and Regions Sector, Department of Canadian Heritage, Kim Scott, Director, Research and Policy Coordination, Assembly of First Nations, Paul Thoppil, Interim Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction and CFO, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and Catherine MacQuarrie, Senior Executive in Residence, IPAC.
Recently IPAC and the Canada School of Public Service collaborated on developing and testing a workshop specifically for public servants on reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples. IPAC is now offering the course to public services across the country as part of our contribution to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, specifically #57 which calls on governments to provide education to public servants on Indigenous peoples, cultures and history.
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.