Reconciliation with Indigenous People Through Business and Opportunity
Loft, Kristen Sara
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True reconciliation cannot occur without acknowledging and addressing the socio-economic gaps between Indigenous people and other Canadians. A nation-to-nation relationship may not be possible under the current socio-economic situation without the support of industry and corporate Canada, provincial and federal government agencies, financial institutions, educational institutions, and local Indigenous governments. Increasing opportunities for Indigenous business to develop and grow would allow for the ability to create self-sustaining communities and create meaningful partnerships within communities. The federal Liberal government has committed to creating a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people in Canada and to reconcile the relationship with Indigenous people by implementing the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations in the Calls to Action and the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the impacts of public policy on Indigenous economic development and wealth creation, and the role they have in business and opportunity for Indigenous peoples – specifically within First Nation communities. This will be done by exploring the current realities of Indigenous people with respect to their socio-economic situation; education policy; their correlation with the Canadian labour force; the impacts of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The paper will identify barriers to Indigenous business and make recommendations for a path forward to reconciliation through business and opportunity. While the issues affecting Indigenous economic development and economic policy are multi-faceted, the importance of reconciliation through business and opportunity are monumental. Roughly one-quarter of all Indigenous people in Canada live on a reserve. For the most part, they are members of a First Nation and considered “status or registered Indians” under the Indian Act. Irrespective of location, status First Nations people make up roughly half of all Indigenous people in Canada. Unlike other identities, status is legally regulated under the Indian Act (CCPA, 2016).