Emerging Indigenous Policy Leaders

About the project: Today’s emerging Indigenous policy leaders are true catalysts for change in Canada. This next generation of leaders will engage with the federal government and its commitment to form a new Indigenous-Crown relationship and put reconciliation into action. But skilled, collaborative and connected leaders don’t emerge by accident. As the decision-makers of tomorrow, these leaders must have the opportunity to explore and analyze the landscape of current and future governance models, share their visions for the future and discuss their roles and responsibilities.

The Public Policy Forum will build and nurture a vibrant network of 15 to 20 emerging Indigenous policy leaders in a three-year, Indigenous-led initiative. This network will be comprised of already established individuals—the next generation of ascending leaders who have worked extremely hard to establish themselves within the public, private and non-profit sectors.

While many current initiatives focus on the importance of improving social service delivery for Indigenous Peoples, we believe the acute issues facing Indigenous communities can be most effectively and appropriately addressed over the long term by working towards building stronger nations and a positive, mutually beneficial nation-to-nation relationship. To date, however, there appears to be a noticeable disconnect between community-level engagement and the higher-level, theoretical conversations needed to truly effect long-term change.

In this spirit, the project will bring together highly engaged, Indigenous thought leaders to dialogue on critical issues, share their expertise, expand their peer networks and co-create a vision for what Indigenous nation-building, Indigenous leadership and a renewed nation-to-nation relationship look like—and what is needed to achieve concrete change.

Methodology: The design and delivery of the project will be led by PPF’s 2018 Prime Ministers of Canada Fellow Karen Restoule (Dokis First Nation) and supported by the PPF team. The project will be guided by an Advisory Circle comprised of:

  • Regional Chief Kluane Adamek (Kluane First Nation);
  • Max FineDay (Sweetgrass First Nation); and
  • Sarah Robinson (Fort Nelson First Nation).

While some key themes and deliverables are proposed for year one, in the spirit of reconciliation the emerging Indigenous policy leaders themselves will drive their own agenda and shape the desired outcomes, activities, themes and participants for years two and three. Such an approach will stress the importance of deep listening, respect and relationship building, while also leveraging the energy, passions and ideas of the first cohort of leaders.

The participants will be selected by Karen Restoule and the Advisory Circle based on their level of activity and influence on policy and decision-making in Canada within their respective areas of expertise. They will have established reputations and set themselves apart on their own initiative as collaborative, solutions-focused leaders focused on revitalizing Indigenous nation-building and promoting reconciliation within the Indigenous-Crown relationship. Participants will reflect the diversity of Indigenous peoples across the country, including First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities; gender perspectives; regional representation; and various policy areas.

Two-day workshop: PPF will convene a two-day workshop for 15-20 emerging Indigenous policy leaders from across Canada in fall of 2018. This gathering will serve as a policy “hackathon,” where up-and-coming thought leaders engage in critical dialogue about the current and future state of Indigenous nation-building, the Indigenous-Crown relationship, Indigenous leadership, and to develop recommendations for ways forward. In particular, these Indigenous leaders will have the opportunity to:

  • Discuss current and anticipated policy issues affecting Indigenous peoples across the country;
  • Engage with and learn from key Indigenous policy leaders on the current and future state of Indigenous nationhood and the nation-to-nation relationship;
  • Learn through peer-to-peer insights about opportunities and challenges faced by Indigenous communities across various sectors and regions in Canada;
  • Co-create a vision for the future of the nation-nation relationship and Indigenous nation-building; and
  • Explore the possibility of building a Pan-Canadian network of Indigenous policy leaders.

Report: Drawing on these discussions, PPF will issue a report with recommendations on the future of the nation-to-nation relationship, Indigenous nationhood and Indigenous leadership, which will help with the development of a nation-to-nation forum in 2019. This report will be widely disseminated through PPF channels as part of broader efforts to support reconciliation.

Timeline: 2018-2021


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