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Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan 1998

Category: Policy/Strategy
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy | Report
Subject Matter: | Economic Development | Education | Employment and Training | Health and Community Services | Self Government
Summary Information:
Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan Gathering Strength (the Plan) was released in 1998 by the Canadian federal government in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. It was intended as a long term policy approach designed to improve the quality of life and self-sufficiency of Aboriginal people. The Foreword to the Plan describes the objectives of the policy as the renewal 'of the relationship with the Aboriginal people of Canada...[which] builds on the principles of mutual respect, mutual recognition, mutual responsibility and sharing'. The Plan's key objectives include:

  • Renewing partnerships to bring about meaningful and lasting change in relationships with Aboriginal people;
  • Supporting arrangements for self-government, affirming treaty relationships and negotiating fair solutions to Aboriginal land claims;
  • Developing new fiscal relationships which are stable and which foster self-reliance; and
  • Supporting strong communities, people and economies by focusing on improving health and public safety, investing in people, and strengthening Aboriginal economic development.

    The Plan affirms that treaties will continue to be the basis for the ongoing relationship between Aboriginal people and the Crown.
  • Detailed Information:
    The Plan begins with a Statement of Reconciliation which acknowledges the mistakes and injustices of the past, and the continuing diversity and strength of Aboriginal nations. The Government of Canada formally expresses 'to all Aboriginal people in Canada our profound regret for past actions of the federal government which have contributed to these difficult pages in the history of our relationship together.' It acknowledges its role in the suppression of Aboriginal languages and cultures, and in the separation of children from their families and communities. The federal government proposes to work with Aboriginal people and interested parties to address the historical legacies and issues resulting from the Residential School system. It acknowledges the destructive nature of assimilationist policies, and asserts a commitment to find ways to enhance the identities of contemporary Aboriginal communities.

    The Plan continues with a Statement of Renewal which expresses a vision of a shared future for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It acknowledges the Royal Commission's recommendations envisaging the rebuilding of Aboriginal nationhood; supporting effective and accountable Aboriginal governments; establishing government-to-government relationships between Canada and Aboriginal nations; and taking practical steps to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal people. It recognises that meaningful change will take years to implement and must commence immediately.

    Part I of the Plan is entitled 'Renewing the Partnerships'. This Part identifies the building of a partnership with Aboriginal people, other levels of government and the private sector as an important objective for the Government of Canada. The elements of this 'renewed partnership' are to include:

  • Reconciliation;
  • Healing;
  • A treaty relationship;
  • Federal-Provincial-Territorial-Aboriginal partnership and co-ordination;
  • Partnerships in design, development and delivery;
  • Restructuring of federal institutions;
  • Language, culture and heritage;
  • Public education;
  • Urban issues; and
  • International partnerships.

    Part II of the Plan relates to Strengthening Aboriginal Governance. The Government of Canada recognises that Aboriginal people maintained self-sufficient governments with 'sustainable economies, distinctive languages, powerful spirituality, and rich, diverse cultures on this continent for thousands of years.' The Government commits to working closely with Aboriginal people (and provincial and territorial governments where appropriate) to turn the 'political ideal' of ensuring that Aboriginal governments and institutions can govern effectively into a 'practical reality'. The Government recognises a need to address particular issues including:

  • Recognising the Inherent Right of Self-Government;
  • Recognising Aboriginal governments;
  • Metis enumeration;
  • Implementing self-government;
  • Building governance capacity;
  • Participation of women in self-government initiatives;
  • Aboriginal justice;
  • Professional development in land, environment and resource management;
  • Affirming the treaty relationship; and
  • Improving the claims process.

    Part III focuses on Developing a New Fiscal Relationship to provide more stable and accountable financing, and which enhances resource revenue sharing, autonomy and self-reliance. To this end, the issues to be addressed include:

  • Funding arrangements;
  • Accountability;
  • Own-source revenue;
  • Data collection and exchange; and
  • Reducing the administrative burden for Metis and Off-Reserve Groups.

    Part IV of the Plan is entitled 'Supporting Strong Communities, People and Economies'. The Government recognises that supporting healthy, sustainable Aboriginal communities 'means finding new ways to empower individuals and their communities'. Focusing on 'key factors that contribute to the circle of well-being for Aboriginal people and their communities', it identifies three key areas for improvement: Aboriginal health and public safety; investing in people; and strengthening economic development. The specific areas to be addressed include:

  • Improving health and public safety;
  • Improving community infrastructure;
  • Creating healthy communities;
  • Establishing an Aboriginal health institute;
  • Creating better beginnings for children;
  • Creating a youth strategy and educational reforms;
  • Establishing urban youth centres;
  • Reforming welfare;
  • Improving training and skills development;
  • Strengthening economic development;
  • Improving access to capital;
  • Increasing market access;
  • Improving innovation; and
  • Increasing access to lands and resources.

    The Plan also outlines a series of initiatives specific to the Northern territories taking guidance from the four central objectives of the Plan.

    The Plan concludes by reaffirming government commitment to an improved relationship with Aboriginal people, and to renewing partnerships with Aboriginal people and governments.

  • Related Entries

  • Government of Canada
  • Event
  • Coolican Report 1986
  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 1996 (CANADA)
  • Legislation
  • Indian Acts
  • Specific Claims Resolution Act (2003, c.23)
  • Case Law
  • Calder v Attorney-General of British Columbia (1973)
  • Policy/Strategy
  • Comprehensive Land Claims Policy 1973
  • Specific Claims Policy 1973
  • Inherent Right of Self-Government Policy 1995
  • In All Fairness: A Native Claims Policy 1981
  • Outstanding Business: A Native Claims Policy 1982

  • References

    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1996) Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1998) Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (2003) Backgrounder: Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (2003) Overview
    Department of Justice Canada (2003) Specific Claims Resolution Act [Not in force] (2003, c. 23 )
    Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) (1999) Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Interpreting the Mandate
    Library of Parliament, Parlimentary Research Branch (1999) ‘The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples’
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1996) Highlights from the Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples


    Policy/Strategy | Indian Claims Commission (Canada)

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