The Liberal government’s key 2015 election commitments included renewing the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and committing to the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There were vows to transition away from the Indian Act, through a new approach to recognizing the inherent rights of First Nations. But as the next election approaches, how much meaningful change has actually occurred in this critically important policy area? Has there been movement forward in fundamental areas such as restoring Indigenous land and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? What is the state of Indigenous-Crown relations? Experts weighed in on these questions during a panel discussion in Ottawa.
This event is part of an ongoing series of in-depth conversations on key policy issues that could — or should — form part of the debate in the federal election campaign in 2019, hosted by Policy Options, in partnership with the Max Bell School of Public Policy.
K̓áwáziɫ (Marilyn Slett) is a citizen of the Heiltsuk Nation and the elected chief of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council for a third consecutive term. She previously served as tribal councillor and executive director of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council. She is also currently the president of Coastal First Nations, on the board of directors of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the co-chair of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council to British Columbia and was recently appointed to the Vancouver Coastal Health board of directors. During her time as chief, she has guided the Nation on many major endeavours focused on protecting Heiltsuk title and rights and British Columbia’s marine health.
Dr. Brock Pitawanakwat, an Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, is associate professor and program coordinator of Indigenous Studies in York University’s Department of Equity Studies. Current research interests include Anishinaabe electoral participation, governance, health and language revitalization. He is a research fellow with the Yellowhead Institute and a regular panellist with Media Indigena’s weekly round table.
Hayden King is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing in Huronia, Ontario. He is executive director of the Yellowhead Institute and adviser to the dean of arts on Indigenous education at Ryerson University, adjunct professor at Carleton University and senior fellow at Massey College. His research and analysis on the Canada-Indigenous relationship is published widely.
Jennifer Ditchburn is the editor-in-chief of Policy Options, the IRPP’s influential digital magazine. An award-winning journalist, she spent more than two decades covering national and parliamentary affairs for The Canadian Press and for CBC Television. She is a three-time winner of a National Newspaper Award and the recipient of the prestigious Charles Lynch Award for outstanding coverage of national issues. She is the coeditor (with Graham Fox) of The Harper Factor: Assessing a Prime Minister’s Policy Legacy (2016).