UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reorienting to reconciliation : the royal commission on aboriginal peoples and federal government organization Fehr, Aidan


The Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples in Canada has evolved greatly in the past twenty-five years. It now focuses on Reconciliation and a fundamental reshaping of how Indigenous Peoples engage with federal and provincial governments. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) published recommendations in 1996 outlining major ways the federal government could restructure its public service to better fulfill its duties, including the provision of services on reserves. To accomplish these changes, RCAP argued that the federal Cabinet, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office and Privy Council Office needed to lead the charge on these changes through sustained effort. I argue that Prime Ministers Chrétien and Harper made few explicit efforts to respond to the Commission’s organizational changes while Prime Minister Martin likely would have fulfilled RCAP’s recommendations, but his government was defeated unexpectedly. Only Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has fulfilled major Commission recommendations – notably the split of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) into two separate departments with more focused mandates: Crown-Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). As RCAP stresses, the burden rests primarily on Ottawa to restructure how it engages with Indigenous Peoples. By building a civil service that fulfills the Commission’s recommendations, the federal government can prove to Indigenous groups and communities that it is serious about Reconciliation.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International