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Foster collaboration and research

In the realm of Aboriginal social and cultural development, collaboration is one of the conditions for the success of public policies. First, such policies are aimed at a clientele, which, in Québec, displays a unique trait: the Aboriginal peoples form nations and are therefore best suited to determine the initiatives that will contribute to their development. The First Nations and Inuit must, therefore, participate in the elaboration of and follow-up to the measures.

Second, such public policies are developed in a context in which the Québec government is not acting alone. It is a question of reconciling the Québec government’s initiatives with those of federal bodies, bearing in mind the specific role that the Government of Canada plays and its jurisdiction over Indians and the lands reserved for them.

At another level, it should not be forgotten that the Aboriginal communities are developing in a regional environment, which necessarily implies exchanges with local non-native authorities, especially at the municipal level.

While public policies implemented in Aboriginal communities must rely on a confirmed spirit of cooperation, their effectiveness will also depend on the quality of prior knowledge on conditions in the communities. Research and the production of reliable data are indispensable in this respect.

The Québec government intends to focus on collaboration and research.

Implement more fruitful exchanges

Joint action with the Aboriginal peoples

As we have seen, the Québec government regularly conducts sectoral consultations in the Aboriginal communities concerned in an array of fields pertaining to social and cultural development. During their work sessions, Québec government decision-makers are able to gauge the concerns and priorities of the communities and contemplate with them implementation procedures. This way of working has become almost systematic and we can indeed be pleased about such progress.

However, we can still do even more. From now on, the Québec government is seeking, when possible, to establish with the Aboriginal communities ongoing joint-action mechanisms. Consultation allows, of course, for the collection of useful materials, but joint action implies an additional notion, that of partnership. Looked at from that point of view, joint action does not only mean taking into account the opinions of the Aboriginal peoples but also implies the notions of participation and dialogue.

This principle must be carried out through concrete initiatives. The local discussion tables on the accessibility of services in urban environments established in several cities in Québec to ensure constant complementarity between the services administered by the Québec networks and those offered by Aboriginal organizations in urban environments are a concrete example of the joint-action model that the Québec government is seeking to establish with its partners.1

The Saqijuq social regulation initiative also follows this model. It seeks to reduce alcohol or drug consumption among the Inuit and its numerous consequences. Through the mobilization of regional and local resources, Saqijuq must make it possible to enhance the way in which community interveners work together to cope with behaviour that all too often leads to over-judiciarisation. Saqijuq is an innovative approach adapted to conditions in Nunavik and carried out in collaboration with the Québec government. Several government departments are participating in the deliberations of the coordinating committee and the governance office.

This approach has also governed the conception of Aboriginal youth strategies. In partnership with the Secrétariat à la jeunesse du Québec, Aboriginal young people have overseen the elaboration of the three strategies devoted to the Inuit, Cree and First Nations launched in the spring of 2017.

The Aboriginal Socio-Judicial Forum is another important joint-action initiative. It stems from a shared desire by the Québec government, partner organizations in the realms of justice, public security, health and social services, and organizations representative of the Aboriginal communities to establish an ongoing forum for discussion in order to promote better joint action with respect to social, police, legal and correctional services. It has the general objective of jointly determining ways of broadening the effectiveness of socio-judicial services in the Aboriginal communities.

The implementation of this action plan, which covers the entire array of Québec government initiatives governing Aboriginal social and cultural development will also be carried out in this spirit of cooperation. A joint mechanism that involves the representatives of the Aboriginal bodies concerned and those of the Québec government will ensure follow-up to the measures.

Joint action with the Aboriginal peoples must also occur in local bodies. The potential for cooperation is considerable both in the regions and in urban settings. Discussions can be initiated or intensified between the municipalities and Québec’s Aboriginal communities. Reconciliation is necessary and sustained efforts must be devoted to this objective. This instruction must be given in all city halls in population centres near reserves.

Mention should be made in this respect of a hitherto unheard-of initiative in Québec. On March 23, 2017, nine directors of Aboriginal friendship centres and nine Québec mayors signed an agreement entitled Engagement mutuel pour l’amélioration des conditions de vie des Autochtones en milieu urbain. In so doing, the parties recognize their respective responsibilities and solemnly express their desire to collaborate and maintain a sustained, constructive dialogue. This type of joint action and, above all, the intentions that it reveals, is destined to serve as a model.

Joint action between governments

More extensive joint action is also necessary between governments, which, all too often, do not take sufficiently into account public measures outside their purview. This can lead to service interruptions or duplications and inefficiencies that do not do justice to the resources mobilized.

More sustained discussions with the federal government will allow for better coordination of each level of government’s initiatives. Québec government departments and agencies must engage in closer dialogue with the Canadian government services concerned. Significant collaboration already exists, for example through formal agreements, but substantial improvements are necessary, in particular in order to overcome jurisdictional disputes. In this respect, the Québec government is willing to work actively with its federal partner to implement Jordan’s Principle.

The Québec government will also continue to put a lot of effort into Canadian intergovernmental bodies that discuss social and cultural issues pertaining to the Inuit and the First Nations. What is more, in recent years it has participated assiduously in such gatherings, among other things in the summit on Aboriginal women. The Québec government regards such gatherings as the ideal forums at which to discuss best practices with its partners in the Canadian federation and to establish with the federal government an increasingly constructive dialogue.

For the past two years, the Aboriginal questions have occupied a growing place in discussions between the governments, which better reflects their objective importance. The recent establishment of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial-Indigenous Forum devoted to the enhancement of the Aboriginal peoples’ living conditions in a spirit of reconciliation, clearly reflects this progress. The Québec government will continue to firmly participate in this movement.

In addition to endeavouring from now on to implement all of its initiatives in a spirit of ongoing cooperation, the Québec government is adopting, in particular, the following measures:

  • support the consultations that Aboriginal service organizations periodically conduct in their communities or among their clienteles;
  • establish a working committee on the training of future Aboriginal or non-native police officers destined to work in Aboriginal communities and promote the sharing of expertise and good practices between the police forces concerned;
  • establish a joint working mechanism focusing on problems that typically concern women: sexual abuse, gender equality, and spousal and family violence;
  • encourage more sustained exchanges between the leaders of the Aboriginal communities and the representatives of municipal authorities;
  • contribute actively to Canadian intergovernmental deliberations in the perspective of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada;
  • agree with the representatives of the Inuit and the First Nations on a common mechanism to monitor the implementation of this action plan.

Develop and promote research in Aboriginal communities

The initiatives that Aboriginal service organizations and Québec government departments, bodies or networks plan must draw on sufficient data. Diagnoses must be established to facilitate the elaboration of the measures that will adequately satisfy the known needs. Such material is produced by researchers, whose activities must be supported and funded.

In Québec, data on the actual living conditions of the Aboriginal peoples could be more varied and extensive. A substantial body of material already exists but, in several fields, a lack of information, especially empirical data, has been observed. For example, it is sometimes difficult to obtain certain basic quantitative data on the situation of Québec’s Aboriginal peoples in the realms of health, education, employment, literacy, and so on, data that are, however, commonly used in the social sciences to evaluate the standard of living of populations. The aim is to broaden knowledge of certain social and cultural realities in order to better clarify the elaboration of public policies.

The Québec government wishes to contribute to the development of research on Aboriginal realities. It wishes to encourage the work of researchers, in particular action research, and promote Aboriginal affairs as a field of study in the universities. It is, therefore, implementing, the following initiatives:

  • broaden knowledge on the social reintegration of Aboriginal men subject to judicial control;
  • support research on Aboriginal youth;
  • support the realization of research projects devoted to Aboriginal social and cultural development, especially the specific circumstances of Aboriginal women;
  • enhance knowledge of addiction in Aboriginal societies;
  • document the health and well-being needs of Aboriginal men.

The Québec government’s initiatives with respect to joint action and research can be summarized in the following diagram:

Foster collaboration and research
Broaden joint action with the Aboriginal peoples and between governments Contribute to the development and promotion of research on Aboriginal social and cultural realities

This initiative was mentioned earlier in the first strategic priority (enhance services).

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Online as of: June 28, 2017