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Home Policy Articles: Aboriginal

Formulating public policy with regards to Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples requires governments to take into consideration a unique set of factors. Issues such as the provision of social services, education, poverty, substance abuse, and health care must be considered in the context of Aboriginal culture and the way in which governments have historically treated Aboriginal peoples. As well, First Nations governance, Treaty Rights, and the implications of the Indian Act are constantly being examined, debated, and re-negotiated. offers insight into current Aboriginal policy debates in Canada.



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Aboriginal Off-Reserve Education: Time for Action popular

Richards and Vining argue that more than any other factor, poor education levels are condemning many Aboriginals to live in poverty. They point out that the links among education, employment and income are critical, and suggest that Aboriginal People are not being provided with the opportunity to make realize the potential value of all three of these tenets. In this study, Richards and Vining assess the education performance of Aboriginal students in individual off-reserve British Columbia schools.

Aboriginal People in Canada's Labour Market: Work and Unemployment, Today and Tomorrow popular

Michael Mendelson examines the Aboriginal unemployment rate in Canada, seeking to determine whether or not there has been any improvement in labour market availability from 1996 to 2001.

Aboriginal People in Canada's Labour Market: Work and Unemployment, Today and Tomorrow popular

Although Canada has been successful in lowering its national unemployment rate, Michael Mendelson states that for the nation’s Aboriginal peoples unemployment is consistently higher than that of the population in general.

Aboriginal Peoples and Postsecondary Education in Canada popular

This diagnostic report uses empirical data to provide an accurate picture of how Aboriginal Canadians are faring in post-secondary education (PSE).

Achieving Potential: Towards Improved Labour Market Outcomes for Aboriginal People popular

In this report, Ben Brunnen addresses the Aboriginal human capital opportunities that exist in the West. From interviews, public opinion surveys, and census data, he makes a number of key findings regarding improving labour market outcomes for Aboriginal people, including: the need to reinforce the value of education; ensuring success in obtaining and retaining employment; and, the need to recognize, reward and celebrate successes.

Creating Wealth In Aboriginal Communities popular

Stelios Loizides and Wanda Wuttunee explain that Aboriginal unemployment rates are rising and show no signs of slowing. This Report explores the goal, expressed by Aboriginal leaders, to improve the economic prospects for community residents through business enterprise; this paper also looks at programs that strive to meet this objective. The study looks at ten Aboriginal Communities that implemented dedicated programs to establish community-owned businesses as foundations for economic and social development, as well as increased autonomy and self-reliance.

Economic Development in First Nations: An Overview of Current Issues popular

Gordon Shanks raises a serious public policy question: To what extent are First Nations communities and individuals who are actively participating in the Canadian economy living to the best of their potential? He refers to a recent work comparing a Human Development Index (HDI) for Canadians as a whole vis-à-vis the Registered Indian population. Shanks points out that there is a significant gap between these two populations and that Registered Indians continue to have shorter life expectancy, lower educational attainment, and lower average annual incomes.

Harvard Project Lessons on Self-Government: Improving Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada popular

In this brief backgrounder, Dennis Owens explores the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development; for 15 years, this project has been conducting on-the-ground research into the relationship between governance on Indian reservations and its effects on prosperity.

Income On- and Off-Reserve: How Aboriginals are Faring popular

Helmar Drost and John Richards argue that although Aboriginal concerns are receiving more attention in public policy debates, most public attention is devoted to on-reserve communities. They argue this is inadequate, because growing numbers of Canada’s Aboriginal population live off-reserve and in cities today. Drost and Richards note that the social, educational and employment problems facing both on- and off-reserve groups are daunting, and that both deserve the equal attention of policymakers.

Not Strangers in These Parts: Urban Aboriginal Peoples popular

This book, edited by David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters, is a compellation of articles focusing on aboriginal life in urban Canada. There are 16 articles as well as facts on Aboriginals in urban areas and an introduction written by Peters.

Quality of Life of Aboriginal People in Canada: An Analysis of Current Research popular

Daniel Salée explores the current state of knowledge regarding the broad issues affecting Aboriginal people in Canada.

Saskatchewan with an Aboriginal Majority: Education and Entrepreneurship popular

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the economic transformation of the Eastern European immigrants and their descendants and to ask whether it will happen again for Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan.

The Aboriginal Workforce: What Lies Ahead popular

In this article François Lamontagne discusses some of the myths and realities that surround the Aboriginal work force in Canada.

"A Very Hostile System in Which to Live": Aboriginal Electoral Participation in Winnipeg's Inner City

Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie begin their report by pointing out that Aboriginal people are, on average, less likely than non-Aboriginal people to vote in mainstream (federal, provincial, and municipal) elections. In this paper, Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie try to determine whether Aboriginal people in Winnipeg’s inner city vote in mainstream elections; if not, then why not.

A New Agenda for Strengthening Canada’s Aboriginal Population: Individual Treaty Benefits, Reduced Transfers to Bands and Own-Source Taxation

John Richards suggests he has two purposes in writing this paper: 1) to make the case for diverting a significant share of Treaty benefits from Band Councils to individual Aboriginal Canadians; and 2) to make the case for introducing on-reserve taxation by Band Councils. While he points out that many Aboriginal Canadians want to live a more traditional life on a well-run reserve, he also notes that others prefer to live off-reserve. In order to give Aboriginal Canadians greater flexibility in their choice of where to live, Richards argues the federal government needs to initiate sound economic policies.

Aboriginal Communities and Urban Sustainability

This article by Katherine A.H. Graham and Evelyn Peters looks at aboriginals and city life, and the policy environment that surrounds this relationship. They argue that there are certain key characteristics of the current policy milieu. First is the “jurisdictional maze” of policy and jurisprudence. The second element is that we seem to be developing a more “nuanced understanding of the characteristics of Aboriginal people living in cities”, acknowledging their inter-connectedness with the non-urban aboriginal population. The third element is the “nascent understanding” that locally-driven initiatives can be very responsive to immediate problems, even from the point of view of federal programs. Finally, the authors offer several recommendations.

Aboriginal Education in Winnipeg Inner City High Schools

The authors of Aboriginal Education in Winnipeg Inner-City High Schools assert that the Winnipeg school system marginalizes Aboriginal students. Basing their analysis on interviews with Aboriginal students, ‘school leavers,’ and adults and teachers, the authors argue the cultural values of many Aboriginals differ vastly from those of the school system. This leads to what the authors term a ‘cultural/class/experiential divide,’ resulting in feelings of alienation amongst Aboriginals.

Aboriginal Employment in the Banking Sector in Manitoba

This report focuses on the effects of information technology on Aboriginal employment in the banking sector.

Aboriginal Involvement in Community Development: The Case of Winnipeg's Spence Neighbourhood

In this study, Jim Silver, Joan Hay and Peter Gorzen attempt to answer two questions: 1) to what extent, and in what ways, the rapidly growing numbers of Aboriginal people in Winnipeg’s inner-city Spence neighbourhood are participating in community development initiatives; and, 2) how Aboriginal people themselves define community development and what they would like to see happen to improve the Spence neighbourhood.

Aboriginal Women and Home Care in Saskatchewan

Aboriginal women have always played a central role as caregivers within their families and communities. Over the course of their lives, many Aboriginal women will alternate between being care providers and requiring care themselves.

Accountability for Subordinate Legislation: The Case of the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations

W.T. Stanbury’s report focuses on the ability of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations in Canada’s Parliament to hold Ministers accountable, legally, or subordinate legislation sponsored by that Minister’s department. According to Stanbury, the essence of any accountability regime is to assess the performance of persons to whom authority has been delegated. He suggests the concept and practice of accountability is central to the idea of democracy.

Community Development in the Upper Skeena: Death Feasts and Transformative Change

To encourage innovative, technology-based learning, Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) created the Office of Learning Technologies (OLT) in 1996. In this community story Doug Donaldson and Anne Docherty describe how they secured OLT funds for a three-year action research project.

Counsel for Canadian Federalism: Aboriginal Governments and the Council of the Federation

This brief report by Abele and Prince is part of a series of commentaries published by the IRPP to encourage wider knowledge and discussion of the Council of the Federation. The Council of the Federation was created in July 2003 by the provincial premiers and territorial leaders to better manage their relations, and ultimately, build a more constructive relationship with the federal government.

Doing Business with the Devil: Land, Sovereignty, and Corporate Partnerships in Membertou Inc.

Membertou First Nation is a part of the city of Sydney, Nova Scotia, and one of the few urban Aboriginal reserves in Atlantic Canada. Jacquelyn Thayer Scott argues that Membertou defies stereotypes about poor, mismanaged reserves: she points to its updated infrastructure, high-quality education, corporate and community partnerships, community involvement, and strong social services as evidence.

E-nakaskakowaahk (A Step Back): Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Wuskwatim Project

Peter Kulchyski’s paper analyzes The Summary of Understandings (SOU) between Nisichwayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Manitoba Hydro with Respect to the Wuskwatim Project, an agreement in principle from October 2003 that outlines the terms of NCN’s equity partnership in the hydro-electric development to take place in northern Manitoba.

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