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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
Orientations. Return to strategic priorities

Develop the power to act of individuals and communities

Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples emphasized the importance of healing as a necessary transition for the rapid development of Aboriginal societies. To achieve collective self-fulfilment, the Inuit and the First Nations must overcome the oppressive heritage of the past: they need to thrive and grow.

The Aboriginal communities must design the tools that will enable them to make more enlightened choices for their own future. However, this collective objective will invariably make the development of the capacity of individuals imperative. In the Aboriginal communities, social relations have historically been established in light of the values of cooperation and cohesion, through taking root in the community and a strong sense of belonging. Against this background, collective self-fulfilment is especially dependent on the quality of individual abilities.

The goal is, therefore, to create conditions conducive to the realization of the individual potential of community members and their ability to solve their own problems. We must strive to broaden the power to act of individuals, not only to ensure that they take themselves in hand and mobilize in favour of the conditions of their personal existence but also to become active participants in the process of cohabitation and collective healing.

Accordingly, the delivery of effective, relevant, reassuring services from a cultural standpoint is not, in itself, sufficient. It is not sufficient, either, to adequately target measures geared to priority, genuine needs: we must also implement initiatives that will foster individual empowerment, citizenship learning, and social cohesion.

This action plan reflects that logic. It seeks to support innovative social initiatives, which promote individual empowerment and will put individuals at the forefront of the community’s social and cultural development.

Rely on the potential of individuals

The difficulties that the Aboriginal populations experience with respect to schooling, poverty, employment or health are often deplored at their face value, i.e. given the unacceptable, abnormal nature of individual suffering, public authorities are mobilizing to enhance their conditions.

There is, however, another way to contemplate these questions. In point of fact, we often pay less attention to what has been lost or even ruined in the prevalence of social problems: the waste of individual talent and potential and the loss by thousands of Aboriginal peoples of the ability to change the course of events, translate a perspective of the common good, and become actors for change.

Accordingly, this action plan implements measures that seek to promote the development of the capacity of individuals and communities, in the perspective of broadening citizen involvement. Citizen learning and the exercise of citizenship imply that individuals share a concern for the enrichment of the collective future and that they make their best contribution to it. The Aboriginal societies must be able to rely on individuals who are able and willing to contribute. Poverty and social exclusion often have as a corollary limited participation in the economic, cultural and political life of the community. Against this background, the need for incentive measures respecting citizen involvement is even clearer.

The Québec government thus intends to take action that will ultimately enable individuals to better participate in the elaboration of social bonds:

  • support the band councils to enable them to work with young people and propose diversified, unifying programming in the realms of sports, recreation and citizen involvement;
  • promote the sharing of good practices with respect to parenting skills in Aboriginal communities;
  • promote entrepreneurship among Aboriginal youth and women;
  • elaborate and disseminate information that enables the Aboriginal peoples to better understand the judicial process and become more aware of their rights;
  • encourage the recognition of Aboriginal seniors to foster their participation in social life;
  • support projects aimed at promoting egalitarian relationships among Aboriginal boys and girls.

Foster social innovation

What is more, to promote the exercise of citizenship and solidarity in the Aboriginal communities, the Québec government will support social innovation projects, i.e. initiatives that propose original approaches that are more closely matched to social conditions in the communities. This action plan encourages such approaches, which, by breaking in a manner of speaking with the status quo, afford on a long-term basis a response to needs and problems, thereby engendering significant benefits not only for certain individuals but also for the community.

Conceived in this manner, such initiatives have the potential to transform communities. While the initiatives can emerge from all environments (bodies that report to the band councils or the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador [AFNQL]), tribal councils or off-reserve community organizations, and so on, or be sponsored by youth, women’s and other groups, they also have in common that they present innovative solutions to concrete social problems.

In this way, they can affect such varied sectors as education, health, the family, justice or gender equality and complementarity although, in all cases, they target the social inclusion of the Aboriginal peoples and the strengthening of cohesion in their communities.

In this perspective, mention should be made of the following initiatives:

  • foster, through the new provisions in the AIF, the implementation of innovative projects and partnerships in fields that are crucial for Aboriginal social development;
  • encourage the emergence of community action in the Aboriginal communities;
  • broaden the scope of community action in urban settings;
  • accentuate support for community justice committees in the Aboriginal communities;
  • support the activities of the Elected Women Circle of the AFNQL;
  • support projects aimed at Aboriginal young people to promote citizen involvement.

When all is said and done, the third strategic priority of the action plan seeks to contribute to the revitalization of civic life in the Aboriginal communities by fostering the reappropriation by community members of their own power to act and, more generally, the management of their lives. It can be summarized as follows:

Develop the power to act of individuals and communities

Contribute to citizen involvement to bolster individual capacities

Promote innovative social initiatives
Return to strategic priorities

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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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Online as of : November 2, 2017