In a recent op-ed article published in Indian Country Today, the author–a Cree/Metis woman from Alberta Canada–wrote about a landmark study conducted by the Canadian government in 1991 called “People to People, Nation to Nation: Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.” The RCAP was established to examine the conditions of First Nations Peoples and make recommendations for solutions to the problems that stubbornly grip their communities. The resulting 150 page document was a modern equivalent to the American Meriam Report of 1928 which resulted in sweeping changes for Native American tribes on the heels of the disastrous Dawes Act.
The RCAP was an honest look at the conditions created by Canada’s colonial policies and made bold recommendations for their reversal and establishing a healthier relationship between First Nations and the Canadian government, complete with budget projections. In a nutshell the report admitted that all of the prior Canadian policies aimed at forced assimilation had not only not worked, but were in fact to blame for the atrocious socioeconomic conditions plaguing First Nations communities. Unfortunately, the author notes, 10 years later the Assembly of First Nations issued a report card for how well the recommendations had been implemented and found almost no implementation whatsoever.
Perhaps the most salient point the author makes is that most of the hard work of proposing solutions has already been done, and the “wheel need not be reinvented.” In other words, the Harper government should listen up and stop ignoring what his country’s government has already proposed instead of moving backwards and perpetuating its behavior as a colonial imperialist instead of the treaty partner that it is.