Paul Chartrand delivered the 2016 Katherine A.H. Graham Lecture.

As a member of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Paul Chartrand travelled all over Canada, listening to the stories of hundreds of people at more than 90 hearings. The Commission produced a 4,000-page report in 1996, laying out an agenda for the next two decades.

Twenty years later, Paul Chartrand stood before a large audience at Carleton University and said, “I believe the RCAP recommendations have been substantially overlooked. The basic ideas were not accepted. Why? The relative political weakness of indigenous people is a significant factor.”

The Commission made 440 recommendations which included a call for new legislation to set out a treaty process and recognition of Aboriginal governments, the creation of an Aboriginal parliament, and the expansion of the Aboriginal land and resource base.

Mr. Chartrand shared his reflections on the Royal Commission and his hopes for the future as the keynote speaker for the Katherine A. H. Graham Lecture of Aboriginal Policy in the Faculty of Public Affairs.

As a public intellectual and practicing lawyer, Mr. Chartrand said he will never forget the people he met through the Commission’s work who helped him better understand the reality of Indigenous rights in Canada.

“One result of the state institution is the devaluing of Indigenous life and identity,” he said. “The Indian Act was created to eliminate Indians. It was an engine for cultural genocide and the residential schools were part of that.”

He also questioned the frequent use of the word “reconciliation”.

“I keep hearing people talk about reconciliation. That means that when one side has all the power, you’d better reconcile yourself to that,” he said. “Power is exercised in the interest of the people who wield it.”

Mr. Chartrand said some people see his assessment as dark and depressing, but he described it as practical. And he is not without hope. He described the Idle No More movement as a significant development in the battle for Indigenous rights.

The Katherine A. H. Graham Lecture of Aboriginal Policy provides a vehicle for examining a wide range of policy issues, related to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada. The lecture is held in coordination with the Carleton University Institute on the Ethics of Research with Indigenous Peoples (CUIERIP) and intensive graduate programs in Indigenous Policy and Administration (IPA).

Friday, June 10, 2016 in ,
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