IPAC 2019 Conference: What “Reconciliation in Action” Looks Like

For the IPAC 2019 Conference, “Reconciliation in Action” has been identified as a key sub-theme.  James Froh is the Senior Executive in Residence with the Indigenous Government Program of IPAC.  A Métis from Saskatchewan, he is an active champion of Reconciliation and has been significantly involved in planning the 2019 Conference.

Reconciliation in Action is gathering momentum for the 2019 IPAC Annual Conference August 18-21, on Treaty 1 territory, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In determining the best way to approach Reconciliation as a theme, IPAC Manitoba partnered with Loretta Ross, Manitoba’s Treaty Commissioner, to champion the inclusion of regional Indigenous peoples’ protocols, knowledge and expertise in developing its program.

The need for Reconciliation is clear for an increasing majority of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. As Canadians, we value practical policies, such as Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canadian society, as well as greater opportunity and equality for Indigenous peoples. Not so well understood are the shared perceptions of discrimination, privilege, systemic disparities, lack of relations and absence of trust. We struggle with the necessity to correct past wrongs, recognize Indigenous rights, and share the land and its wealth with Indigenous nations – for the benefit of all Canadians.

Where I live, settlement of Prairie land has a complex and traumatic history of colonization that is very real for Indigenous peoples. This can be seen most recently with the Prime Minister’s apology and exoneration of Chief Poundmaker for the wrongful treason conviction of his role in 1885 at the Battle at Cutknife Hill. This symbolic and historic apology offers a release from a painful past for his descendants and the community that bears his name. It was long in coming. People dedicated their time and resources to exonerate Chief Poundmaker and many passed away without witnessing it. This ceremony offered Canadians an opportunity to hear and learn about Chief Poundmaker’s real legacy, his role as treaty maker, statesman and peacemaker. It is because of the resilience, resistance and survival of his descendants, that we now can share in Poundmaker’s legacy.

The need for Reconciliation is clear. Governments at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels are regularly engaging Indigenous governments and agencies. IPAC’s long-established role is to support governments and public servants in addressing current and emerging public administration and policy challenges and position them for success. This combined role makes it clear that IPAC must play a critical role in advancing policy-making and new government-to-government relations from a Reconciliation perspective.

Over the past four years, IPAC established its Indigenous Government Program, and since our 2017 National Year of Dialogue, this agenda has taken on even more prominence and importance for IPAC members and public servants. In late 2018, IPAC created a Reconciliation Webinars series to compliment what the public sector is doing to advance Reconciliation. With the help of innovative leaders and particularly public servants who are learning about reconciliation, IPAC is publishing a Reconciliation series of practical case studies to speak about Indigenous-Crown success. Building on IPAC’s international knowledge and expertise, the development of a volunteer initiative to enhance policy, legislative and governance capacity of Indigenous government and agency partners, and to increase engagement capacity of non-Indigenous public servants to effectively support and work with Indigenous administrators and experts is under development.

I am excited to support planning for the IPAC 2019 Conference. I encourage you to learn more about what “Reconciliation in Action” looks like by visiting our website.

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