• Working together to improve opportunities and outcomes for aboriginal peoles across Canada
Jun 18, 2015

Today, the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (AAWG) met to discuss progress on results achieved to date in the areas of education, economic development, housing, ending violence against women and girls and emergency management. The group was joined by the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

The AAWG is composed of Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs from all provinces and territories and Leaders from five National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs): the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders acknowledged Minister Valcourt’s presentation on federal initiatives and further expressed the importance of federal engagement and a mutual commitment to a renewed and strengthened relationship in order to improve the lives of all Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, including First Nations regardless of status or residency, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders also thanked Justice Murray Sinclair for sharing his work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and expressed appreciation for the extension of the TRC by one year. Provincial-Territorial Ministers in attendance agreed that they would discuss with their Premiers to provide an opportunity for the TRC to present their work at the annual meeting of Premiers and NAO Leaders.

Further highlights of today’s AAWG meeting included:

Closing the Graduation Gap

  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders received a progress report on shared work and priorities related to the AAWG and the Council of Ministers of Education Canada’s (CMEC) joint work plan.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders discussed further opportunities to reduce barriers to education and increase opportunities for all Aboriginal students.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders recommended that the Federal Minister have more dialogue with Provincial -Territorial Education Ministers along with First Nations representatives regarding the proposed legislation.

Closing the Income Gap

  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders received a progress report on efforts to bolster economic development and improve housing for all Aboriginal Peoples on and off reserve.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders unanimously agreed that Aboriginal Housing both on and off reserve stand as a separate committee of the AAWG.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders welcomed the announcement by the Federal Minister that he will be extending an invitation to Aboriginal Affairs Ministers from Ontario westward and Métis Nation Leaders to the Métis Economic Development Symposium (MEDS) III to develop a long-term Métis Economic Development Strategy.

Ending Violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls

  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers continued to support the NAO Leaders’ call on the federal government to hold a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, including a call to the federal government to consult with provinces, territories and NAOs on the terms of reference for the proposed inquiry.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders received a progress report on early efforts to develop a draft Framework of Action to end violence against Aboriginal women and girls.
  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders acknowledged that Parliament has agreed to re-appoint a Special Committee on the matter of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

Improving Emergency Management

  • Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders welcomed the single window approach on emergency management and agreed to continue to work with the federal government on disaster mitigation strategies on reserves and to improve disaster mitigation and emergency management in all Aboriginal communities regardless of the region.

Next Steps

Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders acknowledge the importance of continued cooperation on Aboriginal affairs. This includes reinforcing and developing efforts to support safe communities and prevent violence against Aboriginal women and girls, enhancing skills training and educational opportunities, building strong working relationships with Aboriginal communities to support economic development and continuing to work with the federal government to address housing challenges and to enhance emergency management and support services.

The AAWG continues to promote coordination and collaboration on key priority issues to further support and ensure a stronger future for Aboriginal communities across the country. Provincial-Territorial Ministers and NAO Leaders agreed to meet again in April, 2014 to discuss progress on these activities.