Operating context: conditions affecting our work
As part of the journey towards Reconciliation, the Government of Canada has taken an important step to renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, by announcing a profound shift in the way the Government delivers services and advances self-determination and self-government of Indigenous peoples.
In order to develop structures that are better aligned to support Reconciliation, on August 28, 2017, the Prime Minister announced the intention to create two new departments:
- Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, which will advance nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships; support Indigenous peoples' vision of self-determination; and lead the Government of Canada's work in the North; and,
- Indigenous Services Canada, which will improve access to high-quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis; support and empower Indigenous peoples to control the delivery of those services; and improve the socio-economic conditions, quality of life and safety in their communities.
A key step was taken on November 30, 2017, with the creation of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), formalizing the creation of a new Department that brings together essential and mutually reinforcing services: First Nations and Inuit health services (formerly with Health Canada), education services, essential social services, child and family services programs, and housing and infrastructure services (formerly with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada).
In 2018–2019, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs will continue, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, the work that is already underway to advance nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationships; support Indigenous peoples' vision of self-determination and lead the Government of Canada's work in the North.
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs has been entrusted to accelerate progress towards self-determination, with an emphasis on reconstituting nations, and developing a Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples has been built on colonial structures, which has contributed to the current unacceptable socio-economic gap. The February 14, 2018 launch of a national engagement process, led by Minister Carolyn Bennett in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples over spring 2018, will lead to the development of a Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework. The Framework will include legislation and policy that will entrench the recognition and implementation of rights as the basis for all relations between Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada. The national engagement will also inform the final form of the two new departments.
Following the creation of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Indigenous Services Canada, there is now historic opportunity to make lasting change and move away from colonial and paternalistic approaches – towards a new era of collaboration with Indigenous peoples – based upon respect and the recognition and implementation of rights.