Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 19 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 17, 2003
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 9:04 a.m.
to study issues affecting urban Aboriginal youth in Canada and, in particular,
to examine access, provision and delivery of services, policy and jurisdictional
issues, employment and education, access to economic opportunities, youth
participation and empowerment, and other related matters.
Senator Thelma J. Chalifoux (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: I would thank Mr. Hanselmann for coming before this
committee today. We have been working on this study for over two and a half
years; and Aboriginal community people have been working on this for many years,
their voices not being heard at all. That is why this committee took this study
This is not just another study. We do not need another study; we need an
action plan for change. That is what this committee has been doing. Mr.
Hanselmann, you, thankfully, are our last witness, but you are one of our most
important witnesses. Canada West Foundation has done some excellent work in the
last several years on this issue. I would like to think that you took your lead
from this committee in conducting your research.
Welcome, Mr. Hanselmann. We will begin with your presentation.
Mr. Calvin Hanselmann, Senior Policy Analyst, Canada West Foundation: Madam
Chair, good morning.
The Chairman: I must apologize to the honourable senators for not
having a French version of the presentation available at this time. We only
received the English version about five minutes ago.
Mr. Hanselmann: Perhaps before I begin, I will tell you a little bit
about myself. I am from Saskatchewan, and about two and a half years ago, my
family and I moved to Calgary. My family was involved in the meat industry for
about 75 years in Saskatchewan, and lately there has been an issue in the news
related to beef. Before we left Calgary, I asked if I could bring something and
I would like to give these to the members of the committee, if I could.
The Chairman: Thank you. You are a good Westerner.
Mr. Hanselmann: It is a bumper sticker that says, ``I love Alberta
Senator Carney: There is nothing wrong with B.C. beef either.
Mr. Hanselmann: There is nothing wrong with B.C. beef, Quebec beef or
Ontario beef. I think the approach toward the BSE was appropriate — that it
was a Canadian issue, and not just an Alberta or Saskatchewan or Manitoba issue.
Unfortunately, the Alberta beef producers provide bumper stickers with only one
I would like to thank you for inviting the Canada West Foundation to appear
today. We believe your examination of issues affecting urban Aboriginal youth is
very important, and we were pleased to accept your invitation. Special thanks
are due to your clerk, Adam Thompson, and Nina Simone of the Parliamentary
Research Branch. Ms. Simone went well beyond the call of duty in arranging this
My wife, Dylan, is with us this morning. I would ask that, during the
question period, you please be gentle with me so I do not look bad in front of
You all have a PowerPoint deck that I will try to follow. I will first give
you some information about the Canada West Foundation and the Urban Aboriginal
Initiative, which has been described by others as the most important study of
urban Aboriginal issues in Canadian history. Of course, that was said before the
publication of your study. After the introduction, we will look at some of the
key findings of that project. This will be followed by an overview of the major
public policy recommendations we made. I will conclude with some observations
about moving forward.
My presentation therefore takes a somewhat more holistic approach to urban
Aboriginal policy than concentrating on urban Aboriginal youth to the exclusion
of other issues. This is because our work was on urban Aboriginal issues writ
large. I trust the committee will bear with me.
For those who are unfamiliar with us, the Canada West Foundation is an
independent, non-profit, non-partisan public policy research institute. We are
dedicated to introducing Western perspectives into current Canadian public
policy debates. We accomplish that by producing and disseminating objective
policy research, acting as a catalyst for informed public debate, and creating
initiatives for citizen engagement in the public policy process.
The Canada West Foundation has a 30-year history of involvement in public
policy and, during some of that time, earned a certain reputation. More
recently, however, the Canada West Foundation has made a concerted effort to
bring objective analysis to public policy issues, and we believe our work stands
on its merit.
As I mentioned, my presentation is based on Canada West's Urban Aboriginal
Initiative, a recently concluded examination of public policy relating to
Aboriginal people in six major Western Canadian cities — Vancouver, Calgary,
Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg.
The Urban Aboriginal Initiative was part of Canada West's Western Cities
Project, a multi-year study of policy challenges faced by Western Canada's
largest cities, and approaches to resolving those issues. The issues we examined
in the Western Cities Project were identified before the project was launched by
conducting a one-year scan of major daily newspapers across the West, and
through interviews with mayors, community leaders and others.
Urban Aboriginal issues were identified as important in many of the six
cities, but particularly so in the Prairie cities. As a result, we designed a
project that played to Canada West's strengths, studying public policy issues.
By contrast, we did not try to study urban Aboriginal people. As many have said,
including your chairman today, they have literally been studied to death.
Throughout the initiative, we were guided by an advisory committee comprised
of federal, provincial and municipal public servants, researchers and, most
importantly, Aboriginal people. The Urban Aboriginal Initiative consisted of a
two-year process that produced four Canada West Foundation publications: first,
a socio-economic comparison of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents of the
six cities and a review of federal, provincial and municipal government urban
Aboriginal-specific policies in those cities; second, an investigation of
enhanced urban Aboriginal programming by federal, provincial, municipal and
Aboriginal governments, and by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal nongovernmental
organizations; third, the identification and discussion of promising practices,
ideas that work in urban Aboriginal policy making and programming; and fourth,
the final report, which summarized the activities and key findings of the
initiative, and concluded with public policy recommendations.
Citizen engagement activities were key to the initiative. Our findings and
recommendations are informed by the views of over 400 people involved in policy
making and programming. Although the research was focused on six major cities in
Western Canada, the findings and recommendations are relevant to urban centres,
large and small, throughout Canada. Indeed, many of the ideas and
recommendations can be applied to other policy files.
I should note that all Canada West publications can be ordered and can be
downloaded free of charge from our Web site, www.cwf.ca.
Some of the key findings of the Urban Aboriginal Initiative include, first,
the Aboriginal population of Canada is increasingly urban. The most recent 2001
census shows that one half of the enumerated Aboriginal identity population
lives in urban areas.
Increasingly, Aboriginal people are moving into and being born in urban
areas. This is especially true in Western Canada, where nearly two thirds of the
urban Aboriginal population currently resides. The urban share of Canada's
Aboriginal population has been steadily increasing for the past 50 years, while
the on-reserve proportion has declined. However, governments, especially the
federal government, continue to concentrate their attention on reserve-based
First Nations people.
Furthermore, Aboriginal people are a visible presence in Canada's major
cities, especially in the West. People who reported Aboriginal identity on the
2001 census comprised as much as 9.1 per cent of the population of a
Metropolitan area, up significantly from a high of 7.5 per cent in 1996.
Winnipeg alone is home to more Aboriginal people than the four Atlantic
Other cities of note include Prince Albert, where the Aboriginal proportion
of the population is about 29 per cent; Prince George, 9.4 per cent; and both
Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie 7 per cent.
A very telling indication of the importance of urban Aboriginal issues is the
fact that the Aboriginal population of many urban areas increased by more than
one fifth in five years. For example, Winnipeg's Aboriginal population increased
by 22 per cent and Saskatoon's by 21 per cent from 1996 to 2001. This urban
Aboriginal population growth is expected to continue. Aboriginal people play an
increasingly important role in the future of urban life. Aboriginal people have
a much younger age structure than the general population and, if the appropriate
policy environment is in place, the urban Aboriginal labour force can play a
prominent role in cities in the future.
The second key finding is that federal, provincial and municipal governments
have urban Aboriginal-specific policies in several, but not all, important
fields in Western Canada's key cities. The policy landscape ranges from
comprehensive government-wide frameworks to departmental initiatives, to the
absence of urban Aboriginal-specific policy.
Urban Aboriginal-specific policies were identified in the fields of
education, training, employment, income support, economic development, housing,
homelessness, health, justice, human rights, urban transition, youth and
cultural support. At the time of the research, however, some issues in which
urban Aboriginal people exhibit acute levels of need did not have a policy. None
of the governments had urban Aboriginal-specific policies in the areas of family
violence, child care, addictions, or suicide.
Fields in which large gaps appeared in the urban Aboriginal policy landscape
are income support, human rights, housing and urban transition. On the positive
side, however, several policy fields, such as training, employment,
homelessness, justice and youth, had policy overlaps among the orders of
government, possibly a sign of recognition of the importance of these fields.
The third key finding is that federal, provincial and municipal governments
had enhanced programming for urban Aboriginal people in several important
fields. Enhanced urban Aboriginal programming provides consideration to urban
Aboriginal people that is beyond that available to the general population. We
also found that, in addition to their own program delivery, governments provide
funding for enhanced programs offered by non-profit organizations, both
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
However, we found no enhanced urban Aboriginal programs in income support or
suicide and none was available in the field of human rights.
Furthermore, although the transition from rural and reserve areas to a major
city can be much like immigrating to Canada from another country, we determined
that the Government of Canada does not fund urban transition programs for
Aboriginal people nearly to the extent that it funds transition programs for
recent immigrants to Canada. Urban Aboriginal transition programming receives
less than five cents for every dollar spent on immigrant settlement and
Another troubling fact we found is that public servants are often unaware of
available programming. This can contribute to the challenges facing urban
Aboriginal people attempting to access those programs.
We did not review policies and programs that apply to the general population,
even though these policies and programs can apply to urban Aboriginal people,
because we wanted to know what governments were doing for this specific
The fourth key finding was that policy and program landscapes contribute to
the socio-economic conditions found among urban Aboriginal people. On a number
of important indicators of personal and community well-being, many, but not all,
urban Aboriginal people face challenges well in excess of those faced by the
Aboriginal people tend to have lower educational levels, lower labour force
participation rates, higher unemployment rates and lower income levels.
Aboriginal people are more likely to be in single-parent families, have poorer
health status, and have higher rates of homelessness and greater housing needs.
Aboriginal people in major cities are over-represented in the criminal justice
system, both as victims and as offenders, and are more likely to experience
Fifth, one of the most significant factors contributing to both the
challenging circumstances facing many urban Aboriginal people, and the
sub-optimal policy and programming environment, is disagreement between the
federal and provincial governments over the question of responsibility for urban
Aboriginal policy. Although this is an old story, it is one that bears
Federal and provincial governments have avoided accepting responsibility for
urban Aboriginal policy. Many urban Aboriginal policy challenges are largely the
result of a jurisdictional issue that has been transplanted to the urban
The federal position is that the Government of Canada bears primary, but not
exclusive responsibility, for First Nations people living on-reserve, while
provincial governments bear primary, but not exclusive responsibility, for all
other Aboriginal people as ordinary residents of their provinces.
Provincial governments respond that all Aboriginal people are the primary
responsibility of the federal government. As a result of this shirking of
responsibilities, cities are left attempting to fill policy and programming
voids, and they usually lack the capacity to do so.
The sixth key finding was that another cause of the difficult policy and
programming environment is the near absence of effective urban Aboriginal
political and policy voices. In many cities, urban Aboriginal people lack
effective voices to participate in designing and implementing policies and
This is to some extent understandable, since urban Aboriginal people are far
from being homogeneous groups. Aboriginal people in every major city in Canada
are drawn from any number of Aboriginal identities, nations and histories. Since
so many cultures and identities are represented in urban settings, it is not
surprising when representation is contested or absent.
Nonetheless, the absence of effective urban Aboriginal political and policy
voices in many settings has contributed to policy and programming challenges.
This is because, unlike on most issues, governments do not have organized
interests representing stakeholders. This poses a difficult challenge in
addressing urban Aboriginal issues.
As I mentioned earlier, the third report of the Urban Aboriginal Initiative
dealt with promising practices. Promising practices are ideas that work. Our
research sought to identify the ideas behind many of the successful programs,
policy projects and initiatives that are seen in cities across the West.
We conducted our promising practices research in two ways. First we conducted
in-depth telephone and in-person interviews with key people involved in urban
Aboriginal policy making and programming. We used the network or snowball method
of sampling, which means we networked from person to person and our sample grew
larger, much as a snowball does when it rolls down a hill. The people we
interviewed were asked to discuss things that seemed to work, how and why these
things seemed to work, and to refer us to other people.
Over one half of the 110 people we interviewed were Aboriginal people, 33 of
whom worked for Aboriginal organizations, 17 were working in government, five
worked for school boards or health districts, and two worked in non-Aboriginal
Second, we performed a literature review and we reviewed the many documents
and reports referred to us during the interviews. We took the results of this
research and boiled the findings down to identify the common ideas that work. We
identified six ideas that work and that should be considered by everyone
involved in urban Aboriginal policy- making and programming.
First, on the subject of emphasizing and building social capital, we found
that successful policy-making and programming require trust among participants
— trust that is built over time through relationships and networks.
Second, on the topic of cultivating the right people, we found that support
from all levels of an organization, especially among high-level politicians and
administrators, is key to success. We also found that local people are best
positioned to inform policy-making and programming, and participants need to
focus on the future, not on the past, when discussing initiatives.
Third, we dealt with keeping a client focus. All actors must develop the
common vision of improved outcomes of the goals of urban Aboriginal
policy-making and programming. To this end, cultural sensitivity, understanding
the role of history in shaping urban Aboriginal realities today and status-blind
programming, in which programs are available to everyone, are important.
Fourth, we carefully considered service locations. Services should be located
in the neighbourhoods in which clients reside, which may sometimes require a
network of service locations. We were told that one-stop shopping in
street-level storefront operations is preferred.
Fifth, we dealt with emphasizing Aboriginal delivery. We were told that urban
Aboriginal programming works better when delivered by Aboriginal people.
However, non-Aboriginal organizations can provide services to Aboriginal people
when done in an appropriate fashion with Aboriginal workers.
Sixth, on the subject of separating politics from program delivery, we were
told that Governments and Aboriginal organizations should work at keeping
political roles separated from service delivery roles. Public servants and
elected officials need to work with Aboriginal politicians on political issues,
and to work with the service delivery community on programs. This is a
controversial idea for many people in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service
delivery organizations and for many people in political organizations. For some
Aboriginal people, almost everything is political. However, this promising
practice speaks to separating lobby group activities from service delivery
Those were the promising practices we identified that were applicable to
everyone involved in urban Aboriginal policy-making and programming. We also
identified an additional six ideas that work and that are intended for
consideration primarily by people in government.
First, we identified the need to listen to the community. We found that
community development approaches and engaging urban Aboriginal communities as
partners are necessary because communities are often more familiar with the
issues than public servants or politicians. We were also told that Aboriginal
community leaders should be valued by public servants for their experience and
knowledge and should be considered peers rather than clients.
Second, on the subject of approaching issues holistically, we found that
governments need to break down the silos that exist in structures and processes.
Departments and orders of government need to partner with one another and with
other sectors of society to adopt a ``common bowl'' approach into which everyone
puts what they can and out of which everyone takes what they need.
Third, we dealt with allowing flexibility. We learned that flexibility in
policy implementation and program design is important. Community-designed
programs often work better than cookie-cutter programs originating in
departmental headquarters. We were told that governments should encourage
flexible administrative requirements, discretionary funding and encourage public
servants to think outside the box.
Fourth, there was a need to simplify application processes. We were told that
community-based organizations often require assistance in completing
applications for program funding. Public servants need to spend time in the
community to meet with the clients, to provide training on completing
applications and to review the applications early in the process.
Fifth, we must recognize the importance of urban Aboriginal issues. We found
that governments should reorganize their structures to place greater emphasis on
Aboriginal issues, including urban Aboriginal issues. Policy frameworks that
guide departments in addressing Aboriginal issues is another way in which
governments can recognize the importance of urban Aboriginal issues.
Sixth, there is a need to cooperate nationally and regionally: Regularly
scheduled meetings of federal, provincial and municipal officials need to occur.
Ways around jurisdictional entanglements, including multipartite agreements
involving combinations of federal, provincial, municipal and Aboriginal
organizations, should be encouraged.
I would mention one point in summation of the promising practices. Some of
the ideas may seem to contradict one another or to be at cross purposes. This is
because not all of these ideas are applicable to every situation. It is the
responsibility of the people involved in local situations to apply the relevant
promising practices to the circumstances that they face.
This brings us to the public policy recommendations that we made. Flowing
from these and other key findings in the report entitled, ``Shared
Responsibility,'' is the development of five sets of public policy
recommendations. First, and most important, federal and provincial governments
must be in urban Aboriginal policy together. The two levels of government need
to set aside their historical posturing about not being responsible so that they
may formally accept their shared responsibility for urban Aboriginal policy.
Once that responsibility is accepted, institutionalizing intergovernmental
coordination and cooperation will be much easier to do and it will be much more
effective. In short, the federal and provincial governments need to cooperate on
policy-making and programming, coordinate their efforts through common
institutions and share the costs.
Second, governments must set goals and evaluate their efforts on urban
Aboriginal issues. To reverse the effects of previous, misguided public policies
will take more than one generation. Therefore, governments should commit to
long-term objectives of improved conditions among urban Aboriginal people. Those
objectives could take, in our estimation, as long as 60 years to achieve. To
meet those objectives, governments must establish firm targets for closing the
gap in life opportunities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal urban residents.
In addition, because evaluation is a vital aspect of policy-making and
programming, comprehensive program and policy reviews must be performed with a
focus on measuring outcomes rather than on outputs. That means evaluating the
good that a program does for an Aboriginal person rather than simply reporting
the numbers of clients served or the kinds of services provided.
Third, governments should not shy away from Aboriginal politics. Urban
Aboriginal people need to be appropriately and adequately represented when
policies and programs are designed. Therefore, governments should encourage the
development of representative urban Aboriginal organizations. Part of this role
for governments is to foster opportunities for urban Aboriginal youth to
participate in community-based organizations so that their leadership skills are
Another aspect of not shying away from Aboriginal politics is taking on
Aboriginal politicians who insist on working in isolation. Exclusive
identity-based funding, policies and programming can mean unnecessary and
expensive duplication. Working with one identity-specific group at a time can
lead to many complications and negative outcomes. Therefore, respect for the
diversity seen in urban Aboriginal communities should take the form of policies
and programming that have, when appropriate, specific cultural components for
different Aboriginal nations. At the same time, however, programming should be
status blind — respectful of cultural traditions among Aboriginal people while
being available to all urban Aboriginal people. In addition, governments should
encourage and reward cooperation by working with Aboriginal organizations that
are willing to work with one another on urban issues.
Fourth, governments need to take principled approaches to urban Aboriginal
policy-making and programming. Although this encapsulates a number of ideas, it
is basically a how-to guide and speaks to three major issues. Governments need
to adopt promising practices or ideas that work and to adapt them to local
circumstances. The promising practices that I discussed earlier came from the
experiences of more than 100 people involved in urban Aboriginal policy-making
and programming. They reflect the collective wisdom and knowledge of their
experience. To improve the conditions challenging many urban Aboriginal people,
governments need to adopt holistic approaches that focus on the person, the
family and the community, often simultaneously, by addressing more than one key
issue at a time.
Governments should adopt leadership roles on urban Aboriginal issues. This
can take many forms, but two in particular need to be considered: leadership
through adopting innovative approaches to urban Aboriginal policy and
programming; and leadership by implementing education campaigns to improve the
level of understanding among the general public.
Fifth, and finally, we make recommendations to specific orders of government.
We recommend that the federal government redirect a portion of its Aboriginal
program funding from reserves to urban areas, especially major cities, and
improve the availability of Aboriginal data. We recommend that provincial
governments implement student registration systems that allow people to
self-identify as Aboriginal people. Last, we recommend that municipal
governments avoid financing human services, pressure federal and provincial
governments for human service funding and conduct municipal censuses that allow
respondents to self-identify as Aboriginal people.
The most important lesson from the Urban Aboriginal Initiative is that this
is a policy environment where intergovernmental relations must be part of the
solution. Federal, provincial and municipal governments are unavoidably engaged
and entangled. However, intergovernmentalism will ultimately be unsuccessful
unless urban Aboriginal people are engaged in the intergovernmental process.
Our Urban Aboriginal Initiative shows that there is a long way to go.
Addressing urban Aboriginal issues will be a long-term process. There is no
quick solution. Nevertheless, the way forward shows promise for at least four
First, there are numerous examples of success stories, policies that are
working, effective approaches and programs that make a positive difference in
peoples' lives from which others can learn. Second the federal government is
more willing than ever to work cooperatively to improve urban Aboriginal policy
and programming, and to improve conditions among urban Aboriginal people. Third,
many provincial governments are showing real interest in working in the urban
Aboriginal policy file. Fourth, governments, particularly in the West, are
adopting the sort of flexible approaches that will contribute to successful
policies and programs.
However, now is not the time to rest. You, as policy-makers, have to push for
the changes that are needed. Small steps are necessary, improvements will be
incremental, but they will be real, and each advance will be followed by more.
Urban Aboriginal youth represent huge opportunities for the present and for
the future, especially in Western Canada. In too many instances, however, they
also face serious challenges. It is crucial that decision makers such as
yourselves do everything possible to ensure that public policy allows urban
Aboriginal youth to fulfill the promise of their opportunities, while mitigating
against the challenges.
It is my sincere hope that our presentation today assists you, and I wish you
the best of success with your study.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Hanselmann. Before we go to
questions, I would like to ask one regarding latent discrimination. In your
studies and your research, did you come across any issues regarding latent
discrimination, both in program delivery services and at the Aboriginal
Mr. Hanselmann: Did you say, ``blatant'' or ``latent''?
The Chairman: ``Latent.''
Mr. Hanselmann: When we spoke to many Aboriginal people in many of the
cities, we heard that the interviewing was open ended and unstructured, so we
asked people to tell stories about what worked. Oftentimes, people talk about
the things that do not work, so we heard many examples of both latent and
One issue we discovered in the policy and program scan was that human rights,
and that is a largely defined territory, is an underdeveloped policy field in
urban Aboriginal policy. The latent discrimination that you are asking about is
a function of the non-existence of policies in many of those cities.
Senator Stratton: We are looking to the future and how to address
certain issues, particularly those related to urban youth. Urban reserves are
starting to unfold across the country. Prince Albert has one, as an example. Was
that viewed as a success story? Have you looked at urban reserves as a unifying
factor for Aboriginal people coming to the city, as a part of the transition? I
experienced, in my former life, many cases of Aboriginal youth trying to make
the move from rural reserves to urban universities, usually unsuccessfully, no
matter how or what was tried by the university. Have you looked at, and do you
have an opinion on the success or failure of, urban reserves?
Mr. Hanselmann: We did not specifically examine urban reserves, but
they were a common theme through many of our discussions. For example, we had a
series of workshops in each of the six cities last October through December,
where we invited people from all levels of policy-making — from Aboriginal
organizations, the federal government, provincial governments, municipal
governments, service delivery organizations — to come together in each of the
cities for a morning workshop to discuss the things that were working, and how
to make things better in each city.
I should say that the appendix in the report entitled ``Shared
Responsibility: Final Report and Recommendations of the Urban Aboriginal
Initiative,'' is a summary of the ``Building the Dialogue'' series. One of the
key points that was repeated time and again in those Building the Dialogue
sessions was that urban reserves were seen as something that was worth pursuing
I am from Saskatoon where the first urban reserve was established, not by a
city growing around an existing reserve, but established within a city. Many
people in Saskatoon, within Saskatoon City Hall and civic administration, within
the government of Saskatchewan, within the federal government working out of
Saskatchewan, and especially the Aboriginal organizations in Saskatoon, speak
highly of the existence of the many urban reserves that now exist in
They see urban reserves as a beneficial idea for a number of reasons. They
introduce an element to some cities that does not now exist, and that is
Aboriginal people as professionals, as economic development officers, as
successful business entrepreneurs. An urban reserve can be the point from which
Aboriginal governments can be established. It can introduce a new sense of
importance, of welcome and respect for Aboriginal people in these cities.
The existing research on urban reserves has had a positive assessment to
date, in that the way forward has been laid out by some of the examples in
Saskatchewan. They are not the only examples, but they can work.
A main caution that people put forward is that there is some fear of the
unknown. The urban reserves that were established in Saskatchewan were for
commercial and light industrial purposes. Some people, when you suggest urban
reserves, start to imagine residential reserves in a city, and begin to
associate that idea with an enclave. The people in Saskatchewan that I spoke to
were not at that stage yet. They were not talking about establishing residential
enclaves. They were talking about economic development, and that is a good idea.
Whether it is an idea that carries its value through to the residential model, I
Senator Stratton: The perception is that they become ghettos.
Obviously, the perception is that they are residential urban reserves rather
than commercial. You make an interesting point.
I believe that we have to look at the potential of urban reserves in major
cities. I am from Manitoba and am aware of the concerns of Winnipeg, for
example, if it is a commercial venture, then that is a positive thing. However,
the perception is that urban reserves may become ghettos. Many Aboriginals,
particularly in a city such as Winnipeg, also view them negatively.
Has your foundation, because I think this is worth pursuing, done a study or
are you considering conducting a study on urban reserves?
Mr. Hanselmann: We have not studied urban reserves specifically. Our
future research agenda is wide open. At Canada West, most of our funding is
project based. Therefore, if someone were to propose a project and the funding
was available, I am sure Canada West Foundation would seriously consider that
The first urban reserve in Saskatoon, for example, was established on the
outskirts of town. It is far from being a ghetto. It is on commercial and light
The urban reserves that are now in downtown Saskatoon are ``office towers,''
as we refer to them in Saskatoon, which is anything above four stories. These
are not ghettos. These are places where professional people go to do their
day-to-day activities. I do not see why anyone would be speaking about an urban
reserve as a ghetto.
Senator Stratton: I appreciate that. I am relating to you what I
heard. I think a good selling job needs to be done in that regard.
The Chairman: I find it interesting that, if it is a Chinese
community, it is a special community. If it is an Italian community, it is an
Italian community. If it is an Indian community it is a ghetto.
Senator Chaput: My first question relates to your foundation. Once you
have done the research and you have recommendations, does your role as a
foundation go further? Do you also have a role of bringing partners together?
Mr. Hanselmann: To some extent we do. We tend to emphasize the
research, publication and dissemination aspects. We do have citizen engagement
activities. Part of that was our Building the Dialogue exercise, where we
managed to bring together about 300 or 400 people from those six cities to
discuss these issues.
Senator Chaput: You have been talking about governments accepting
their shared responsibility. Has there been, in your view, a willingness to do
so and has anything been done so far?
Mr. Hanselmann: There has not been, to my knowledge, any movement
towards formally accepting shared responsibility. By ``formally,'' we mean
memoranda of understanding, legislation, ministerial statements from the House
or any legislative assembly and all the way up to a constitutional amendment.
That would be formal acceptance.
We have seen more informal movement towards sharing responsibility. To his
credit, the federal interlocutor for Metis and non-status Indians has been
quoted in the media as saying something that runs parallel to the idea of shared
responsibility. To their credit, provincial ministers have taken similar
positions. What we are seeing is people moving from the firm, fixed points of
resistance that RCAP reported on in the mid 1990s, to a point where we are
blending our roles, federally and provincially.
Senator Pearson: The question of shared responsibility is raised with
us constantly as an issue to be dealt with in terms of programming for kids.
This is from the smallest children to young adolescents. We are struggling with
what would be our best recommendations on that issue.
Memoranda of understanding may one possibility, and funding memoranda may be
I also have a keen interest in the engagement of young people in the
decision-making process. Do you have some recommendations, as we move ahead in
this long-term process, as to the role of the young people?
Mr. Hanselmann: In terms of a strong recommendation on how governments
could move together on sharing responsibility for programming, I would say that
the recommendation on formal acceptance would be my preference. As to how that
would be put into operation, your wisdom is much preferred over my limited
However, there could be memoranda of understanding, legislation, ministerial
statements and all the way to a constitutional amendment. I would like to see a
constitutional amendment that rewrites certain sections to make it the law of
the land that federal and provincial governments share responsibility for
In terms of how to engage youth in decision making, the report entitled
``Uncommon Sense: Promising Practices in Urban Aboriginal Policy-Making and
Programming'' has a number of points of interest. We spoke with youth and people
who are working in governments spoke of their experiences of working with youth.
One of the lessons that I took from their remarks was that it is important to
get Aboriginal youth in cities working together early on, working cooperatively
without distinction based on identity or legal status.
It is important for barriers not to be allowed to develop. If urban
Aboriginal youth are involved in decision making early on, because it is their
future that you are designing, the outcomes can be improved later on.
Senator Pearson: I am sure everyone read that story in The Globe
and Mail this morning about your province of Saskatchewan and the graduation
from the college, which I thought was an encouraging story.
Mr. Hanselmann: I did read it, yes.
Senator Pearson: Were you at the graduation ceremony?
Mr. Hanselmann: No, I was not.
Senator Pearson: We were encouraged by the presentations we heard from
that college about the whole issue of post-secondary education.
Senator Gill: What kind of references do you use to establish the
Mr. Hanselmann: This data is from the 2001 census. We took the data
published by Statistics Canada on the Aboriginal population of each of the
cities at the CMA level of the provinces and of Canada as a whole.
You may have noted that we say that over one half of Canada's Aboriginal
population lives in urban areas. Most official reports state almost one half.
The difference is that before Statistics Canada gives its fraction, it adds in
its estimation of the population that resides on incompletely enumerated Indian
reserves and settlements. They do not add in the estimation that many people in
urban settings will give them for Aboriginal populations in urban settings. If
you want an honest, representative number, you must allow the population to
identify themselves as Aboriginal people. If you want to estimate the figure,
then you must do that. However, the Aboriginal population enumerated in Canada,
that identified itself as Aboriginal, indicates that over one-half of them are
living in urban settings.
Senator Gill: The figures are sometimes reliable. We have been
studying the population in Eastern Canada and the numbers vary from one year to
My other question concerns the mention of redirecting funds from the reserve
to help the development of urban Aboriginal people. Could you expand on that?
Mr. Hanselmann: The recommendation to the Government of Canada was
that it redirect some of its Aboriginal program funding from the reserves to
urban settings. That is because currently over one-half of the identified
Aboriginal population of Canada lives in urban centres and approximately 29 per
cent lives on reserves.
About 50 years ago, 7 per cent of Aboriginal people lived in cities and the
vast majority lived on reserves. The proportions have shifted. There are more
people living in cities than on reserves, but government funding for Aboriginal
programming is disproportionately directed to reserves. There are reasons for
that, but the reality is that some of the funding — and I want to be clear
about this — that goes to reserves for reserve-based First Nations people,
should be following the First Nations people when they move into the city. There
are First Nations people living in major cities and yet government funding is
not adequate to allow them to enjoy life in the city, as it should be. We are
saying that, if the people are in the cities, then the money should be in the
Senator Gill: Are you aware of the needs of the reserves? Did you
study the funding aspect of the true needs of Aboriginal people on reserves?
Are you aware that there is a per equation system of funding from the federal
government to the provincial government such that Aboriginal people are included
in the census? I think that perhaps some are counted twice and therefore the
federal government may be paying twice.
Most of the school boards have an agreement to receive Aboriginals in their
schools. Someone must pay for that contract, and possibly twice, because the
reserves have contracts with the school boards. The Aboriginal population is
already covered by the per equation system from the federal government to the
provincial government. I think that you may be taking a risk when you say that
some funding should be redirected to the urban Aboriginal population. I think
that we need to study the idea further.
You also talked about urban reserves. Apparently in the west, there is new
set up whereby a reserve exists close to a city. In the east, this is not new
because many reserves are surrounded by cities. On those reserves in the east,
there is not much communication with the urban areas, and that is probably
because of the different fiscal system. That is another situation that should be
Mr. Hanselmann: The urban reserves that I spoke to were those that
were established in a pre-existing state within the city limits. In Vancouver
there is the similar example to what you speak of in the East whereby the city
grows to the point where it takes up all the land around the reserve. However,
the reserves still have reserve status.
In the examples to which I spoke, pre-existing city land was transferred to
an Indian band and the minister gave it reserve status. That is a different
model than what we see in the East and in Vancouver. You are right in that both
examples need to be studied and other ideas that could be applicable need to be
The Chairman: The redirecting of program funding, and you are probably
aware of this, has been strongly criticized by the Assembly of First Nations. It
argues that both on-reserve and off-reserve residents merit adequate financial
reporting. How do you reconcile the fact that the demographic data indicate a
return from migratory patterns rather than an exodus from reserves?
Mr. Hanselmann: Yes, the return from migratory patterns is a true
phenomenon. One must remember that we are dealing with disproportionate spending
that has been in existence for 50 or more years. In 1951, most Aboriginal people
were on-reserve. In 2001, more Aboriginal people were in the cities. Yet, the
spending has not been adjusted to reflect that reality.
In terms of the criticism of the Assembly of First Nations, the committee may
be aware that the national chief and I appeared before the same subcommittee of
the other place on the same day. The national chief and I disagree on the
recommendation of redirecting funds. Here, Senator Gill's advice is well taken.
It is a bold recommendation and one that may not be readily accepted. However,
to his credit, during the question and answer session at committee in the other
place, the national chief identified ways in which First Nations could transfer
funds to urban settings. One of his examples was the transfer of funds from
First Nations to Aboriginal Friendship Centres in cities to help with the
required programs for the members of that First Nation.
It is not that it cannot be done, but we need to find a model that might
work. We would have to try it, assess it and fix it, if necessary, or implement
it more broadly, if it works.
We have to remember that Aboriginal people in the urban settings must be part
of these discussions on the transfer or redirecting of funds. When we talk about
redirecting funds from a First Nation reserve to an urban setting, then those
members must be involved, either directly or through their representative
government. This discussion is not only for us.
The Chairman: In your research, did you take into consideration the
federal government transfer of monies to the provincial governments for services
in urban areas to First Nations people?
Mr. Hanselmann: A few numbers on funding are in the shared
responsibility report. Those numbers were drawn from a presentation by the
Honourable Ralph Goodale, federal interlocutor. I believe he used the figure of
90 per cent of federal government Aboriginal programming funding goes to
on-reserve Aboriginal people, and 10 per cent goes to all other Aboriginal
people. If you break that down further, I believe 3.57 per cent of federal
government Aboriginal programming spending is for urban centres. That
information is in the report.
Senator Gill: I respect the per equation system. When that census was
done I would imagine they counted Aboriginal people, including those living
on-reserve and those living off-reserve. The federal government makes transfer
payments to the provincial governments for all services provided to the general
population. It seems to me that the cost of the services provided by the cities
or the provincial government is already covered. It is supported financially. I
believe it is included.
Mr. Hanselmann: Your suspicion may prove to be correct. However, I do
not know of anyone who has actually determined that.
Senator Forrestall: I am one of those individuals who would much
prefer to have numbers than percentage points. I do not know what 50.6 per cent
indicates. Is there a reason why we do not have numbers?
Mr. Hanselmann: Senator, the pie graph was meant to show the
percentage of the Aboriginal identity population that resides in urban areas.
Senator Forrestall: How many people is that? What is the total
Aboriginal population in Canada? Can you give me a ballpark figure?
Mr. Hanselmann: Senator, you have caught me flat-footed. I remember
ideas, not data. When I find the table, I will let the data speak for itself.
However, I believe the Aboriginal identity population in Canada in 2001 was
approximately 1.1 million.
The Chairman: It was 1,319,890 of Aboriginal ancestry in Canada as of
Mr. Hanselmann: Was that Aboriginal ancestry?
The Chairman: Yes. The number of people with Aboriginal identity was
Mr. Hanselmann: If my high school math does not fail me, we are
talking about half a million Aboriginal identity people in the urban setting.
The Chairman: To be more precise, it is 976,000.
Senator Forrestall: The Atlantic provinces have 3.3 per cent. I have
always been under the impression that the numbers, relative to the total in
Canada, have been declining the 20th and the early part of the 21st century. The
number is shrinking.
To what degree has out-migration affected the statistics reflecting the
native population in the Atlantic provinces? Since it is such a small number in
the larger picture that you painted for us, perhaps it does not come to light.
Is there a pattern of movement? You say that people move from rural to urban
settings. They do not move from rural Saskatchewan to urban Toronto, they come
into Regina or Saskatoon or Calgary or Edmonton. Is that true?
Mr. Hanselmann: I would, with respect, refer the committee to the
demographers at Statistics Canada, who track not only the population but also
the movements of that population. Some of the work that Statistics Canada has
published shows that, in general terms, First Nations people tend to move from a
reserve or rural setting to an urban setting; and as the distance from reserve
to urban setting increases, the propensity to move into that urban setting
decreases. If you start with Halifax, for example, and you draw concentric
circles around Halifax, as you move further from Halifax, the number or
percentage of Aboriginal people moving to Halifax declines.
What was also identified earlier was something called churn, where many
Aboriginal people leave a rural or reserve setting, move into an urban setting,
find that city life is not what someone had told them it might be or, for some
other reason, move back — perhaps because the family is back home and they
want to be with their families. Many Aboriginal people move from rural to urban
settings, go back to a rural setting and then return to a city. This phenomenon
is being tracked by sociologists and demographers, but that is difficult to do
when a census is only taken every five years.
Currently, a study is going on in Winnipeg that is attempting to get some
idea of how often and why Aboriginal people move to and within Winnipeg. That
sort of longitudinal study is showing some interesting findings relative to the
number of times that many Aboriginal people move within a city, let alone from a
city to another centre, within that five-year census period. That study has only
been going on for a year and they are already noting multiple moves.
Senator Forrestall: Do you find a north-south pattern of movement in
your reading — Canada to the United States, or vice versa?
Mr. Hanselmann: My research was focused on the four Western provinces.
Within those four Western provinces there is very little evidence of Aboriginal
people moving across the international border. The movement is generally from
reserve or rural to urban, urban to reserve. There is also rural on-reserve
movement to rural off-reserve.
Statistics Canada has done some amazing work on this. They have this one
particular slide on their PowerPoint presentation with boxes showing where
people move back and forth to in a five-year inter-census period. It is
enlightening. The bottom line is that the major cities in Canada increased in
population in absolute and relative terms, or proportional terms, in the last
census. Reserves, as a proportion of the total population of Aboriginal identity
— the share of peoples living on reserves — has declined in the last five
years. We are talking about roughly the same number of Aboriginal identity
people living in major metropolitan areas as live on-reserve.
Senator Forrestall: That is interesting. I was asking these questions
because there is obviously a difference. There is a discernible movement within
the Atlantic provinces. For example, a large number became United States marines
and wound up fighting in Iraq, but they also joined the United States navy, army
and air force. Many went to the United States for other reasons. Just as many
from the Quebec region of Canada migrate south, but not west or east.
The purpose of all of this was to try to figure out whether you are
suggesting to the committee that money should follow people more than programs.
Could you elaborate on your admonition to the municipalities — or the
authorities at whatever level — that municipalities, the first responders,
start to move away from personal help? I gather you are talking about the need
programs, the response by municipalities to destitution and that type of thing.
Could you elaborate on that?
Mr. Hanselmann: The two part recommendation to municipal governments
is that they, first, avoid financing human services, and second, that they
pressure provincial and federal governments to provide adequate financing or
funding for the provision of human services.
We did not recommend that cities move away from providing the services or the
programs. We have left that to the elected representatives, the administrative
officials and residents of those cities to decide whether it is an appropriate
role for cities to be in what we call human services. Those services would
include social services, housing, and homelessness.
We suggested that their property tax base was not adequate to support those
services. There are governments in Canada that have taxes at their disposal that
are of a redistributive nature. Income and sales taxes have redistributive
natures. Property tax is not a redistributive tax. We said that they need the
money from the people who have the levers at their disposal. Once they have that
money, they can continue to have the services that your citizens, residents,
voters, taxpayers, elected officials and administration think are appropriate.
However, we suggested that they needed to avoid funding from their property
tax base. If the Government of Canada or the government of the province of New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Alberta, whichever province, transfers adequate money to
the appropriate city, we think that is fine. They can provide the services they
need to provide, but they need the money to do it.
Senator Forrestall: Was the question of money not one of interaction?
Mr. Hanselmann: No, it was not.
Senator Forrestall: The relationship of that to the municipality in
which it is located, rather than to the tax base of, say, Edmonton or Regina, is
light years apart.
Thank you for tolerating an interloper in these discussions. Until my
colleague returns you will have to put up with me, but I am enjoying it.
Senator Léger: In any discussion of immigrants you often hear the
word ``multiculturalism'' and the phrase ``visible minority.'' However, those
terms are not often applied to Aboriginals. Would you agree?
Mr. Hanselmann: I would agree that Aboriginal people are not included
the term ``visible minorities,'' There are very good reasons for that. As I
understand it, most Aboriginal people do not want to be lumped in with what are
called visible minorities, because Aboriginal people are not just one of many
Aboriginal people have a unique status in Canada. They have a history here.
They have political, legal and constitutional status that makes them different
from visible minorities to the extent that, if one were to say that visible
minorities as a term includes Aboriginal people, it would lose all meaning
because you would always have to footnote that when are you talking about the
legal status of the visible minority there is a different legal status for First
Nations, for example.
I agree that Aboriginal people are not included in the term ``visible
minorities.'' Aboriginal people in Western Canada are oftentimes included in
multicultural festivals. When people speak of multiculturalism in many centres
in Western Canada, Aboriginal people are included in those considerations. We
are originally from Saskatoon. When we have Folkfest, which is a festival of the
multicultural nature of Canada, the First Nations and Metis have pavilions, just
as the Irish, the English, and so on have pavilions.
Senator Léger: In other words, Aboriginal people are not on the same
level as visible minorities. It is certainly not always presented that way.
I wish that at least 50.6 per cent of Canadians were well educated about the
Aboriginal peoples and their history, but that is not the case. In fact, just a
moment ago I heard for the first time the expression, ``urban reserves.'' For
me, and I think I represent 90 per cent of the population, if I hear the word
``reserve'' — and I apologize if I hurt someone's feelings — it has a
negative connotation. I think there is gross ignorance throughout the country.
Luckily, the squabbling among various governments is subsiding. I think,
however, we should concentrate on long- term objectives because it will take
generations before solutions are found.
I think that, in order to erase the gross ignorance that exists, learning has
to go parallel. Do you agree?
Mr. Hanselmann: I agree completely. One of our recommendations was
that governments need to take leadership roles. My presentation was not very
brief, but one tries to be as brief as possible. In ``Shared Responsibility,''
the report that contains our recommendations, when dealing with leadership roles
we spoke about public education. This came out of our Building the Dialogue
series of workshops. When you spend a morning with 50 to 100 people talking
about urban Aboriginal issues, some common themes that emerge. One of those
common themes is the need for public education.
One of the senators mentioned The Globe and Mail piece on a person
from Saskatchewan. Many of the readers of The Globe and Mail will see a
side of Aboriginal people they never imagined existed. This is a reality that
you, as policy- makers, as decision makers, and I, as a policy analyst, have to
fight. There are prejudices, bias, stereotypes and misconceptions. The only way
to change those is through educating the public.
It is never too late to start.
Senator Léger: The information has to be in the history books, and we
must use that information to educate the people through the media, that is,
television and so on. I have a great interest in the arts and I know that people
who sometimes do not have enough money to eat properly will have at least one
television antenna attached to their shack or house. That is where we should
concentrate our efforts. That may be something that will fall squarely on the
shoulders of Sheila Copps. I recognize that educational programs about our
Aboriginal people exist in schools but we would reach a wider student audience
if we concentrated on television as the medium.
Mr. Hanselmann: My wife, my family and I still have the rabbit ears on
our television. If I may be so bold as to suggest that you read ``Shared
Responsibility'' from cover to cover. It is about 24 pages and tells of many
people who gave us ideas on how to improve public education. You will see
particular attention being paid to that in the Building the Dialogue summary at
the back, which is two pages long. It encapsulates the many good ideas of those
who live the life each day, whether they be Aboriginals in cities or the people
trying to improve life in the cities. Public education is paramount.
If I may, one thing I miss is the awakening that was happening in Saskatoon.
That awakening is absent in Calgary. Aboriginal people are in the media more
frequently in Saskatoon than they are in Calgary. The positive stories and human
interest stories were evident in Saskatoon, so we learned about successes and
about how the North American indigenous sports team was doing — who was on the
team, where they were going and what they were doing. I miss that about
Saskatoon. I miss much about Saskatoon, but that is another story.
There is a different mindset, and it is key for honourable senators to begin
to push down to those below you, push out to those beside you and push up to
those above you. Put yourselves in the centre of the holistic view of the world
— a circle or a globe. Then, think of all the different directions you need to
speak positive messages to eliminate the stereotyping. The more we can do that,
the more people will recognize that urban Aboriginal youth in Western Canada are
an opportunity; they are not a problem.
To its credit, the Government of Canada, through the federal interlocutor and
through Ms. Anita Neville, M.P., has recently begun to make such statements. In
a recent address to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I heard Ms.
Neville say that we have to stop looking at this as a problem and view it as an
opportunity. This is why the foundation has focussed on this area. We asked
about the urban issues, and the mayors, community leaders and others told us
about them. The issues always seem to be what is wrong or bad. That means you
have to work on creative solutions, and this committee is looking for solutions.
I hope that you find those solutions and that we have been one part to help
guide the committee towards them.
The Chairman: Do not apologize for your antenna because I, too, have a
Senator Christensen: In this study, and in other studies that we
undertake from time to time, we are not reinventing the wheel and we are not
starting from scratch. If we could start from scratch it would be easier.
However, we are starting in the middle of what has already been developed. We
have to overcome barriers that already exist if we are to create new and
different ways of doing things.
There are four points that I wish to consider. One relates to the shared
responsibilities that have to be accepted by the federal and provincial
governments. There certainly are programs and funding transfers and, often, in
respect of problem areas or barriers, there is finger pointing on the issue of
responsibility. We must overcome that. Of course, there is the issue of
provincial-municipal relationships in this area. The actual delivery of service
begins at the municipal level in the communities and that is another shared
responsibility. We must address that in our discussions.
Then, of course, there is the need to try to separate the political aspects
from the program delivery at the Aboriginal government level. That seems to be a
common barrier that needs examination. We need to try to determine a way to
achieve a ``bigger bang for our buck,'' if you will, and to not have the
dilution that takes place because of political interference.
We are looking at the problem of adequate funding not only in isolation but
also in the overall picture. There is inadequate funding for housing, for early
childhood education, for all of the needs of people in the communities. We must
look at ways to meet all the needs in a community.
The last point is the recognition of urban transition programs that you first
spoke to and that we have talked about quite a bit. People are immigrating from
one kind of society to another that is foreign to them. However, the difference
in Aboriginal migration and the transition programs is that when people come
from other countries, they integrate and they retain their culture while
becoming part of Canadian society. However, Aboriginals go back and forth
between the two societies, whereas someone coming from another country would not
necessarily go back and forth in that way. There is a completely different way
of dealing with that aspect. People come from a rural area into an urban area
and then perhaps go back for another several years. A constant transition
creates a different set of challenges.
Mr. Hanselmann: Thank you, senator. I will take some liberty and speak
to a couple of points. I attempt to be careful about criticizing Aboriginal
governments and I attempt to not suggest that we have to separate Aboriginal
governments from Aboriginal programming. However, we need to examine the idea of
separating program delivery from lobby group activity. Perhaps that is where
your comment is well placed in that we could receive more bang for our buck if
the funding were not diluted.
In terms of transition programming and funding, it strikes me that the
phenomenon of churn would be lessened if the Aboriginal coming into the city
were to find the environment that he or she was seeking. The churn will not
completely stop because people want to go back to family and, as you say, there
may be those who want time in the cultural milieu of their upbringing. If the
environment of the urban setting were such that people found it to be welcoming
and they found success in the social fabric and economic life of the cities,
then I do not think the churn would be such an issue.
It would always bring new challenges but, as a parallel to the recent
immigrant example, we must bear in mind there are reasons why people go back and
forth. It is not only to seek the cultural environment from which they came. The
churn I speak of is where the person returns to the reserve or settlement to
family, roots and culture. That was written about in the 1990s in a piece
called, ``Surviving as Indians.'' That was the first time I was exposed to that
idea, and it has some merit. However, we must remember that many Aboriginals are
born in urban settings. Some Aboriginal people have never had a reserve
experience. They may not need the transition program; but if their cousin
decides she wants to try life in the city, we should make sure that life in the
city is all it can be.
Senator Léger: Why does anybody move to the city? Is it to find or a
job or to seek advancement in a job? We move to the city for advancement, and to
enjoy what some may perceive to be the better things of life. I imagine
Aboriginals would stay on reserves if the jobs were there. Do you agree? Why do
Mr. Hanselmann: It is a good question, and it is one on which little
research is available. Why do Aboriginal people move?
The 1991 Aboriginal Peoples Survey, APS, provided some answers. The 1991 APS
data on the questions of reasons for migration, registered Indians, on-reserve
to off-reserve were: 34 per cent moved for family; 27 per cent moved for
education; 25 per cent for housing; and 5 per cent for employment — that is
moving on-reserve to off-reserve. Only 5 per cent moved to find employment.
We must remember two things. Anyone will move from where one is now to where
one will be tomorrow for a number of reasons, but generally they are referred to
in the economic literature as push or pull. You get pushed from where you are
because things there are not good and you do not like it, or you get pulled
because you are attracted to something else.
The 34 per cent of First Nations people who reported that they left the
reserve to go off-reserve — the 34 per cent who said they left for family —
were probably pulled, some of them, because they had family off-reserve. Some of
them were probably pushed because of conditions at home. I have heard many
stories, and I am sure this committee has heard many more than I have, of women
who leave the reserve because of conditions in the home. That is not seeking
employment. That is looking for something better.
People leave for a number of reasons. The 2001 APS should give us more
insight into why Aboriginal people leave reserves for other centres. The ongoing
Winnipeg study that is ongoing will give us some interesting results. That is a
longitudinal study which will last for about one or two years. It is asking the
same people the same questions a number of times, and the results will be
interesting. Why did you leave the reserve? Why have you moved from one part of
Winnipeg to another part of Winnipeg? These are the sorts of questions we do not
have enough answers for; and when we get the answers, you will be able to craft
better policies as a result.
The Chairman: I do not think we have to change only policy; we have to
change legislation. The majority of women and children leave the reserve
because, when it is a family breakdown, they have no rights to stay on that
reserve. That is a well-known fact. The Indian Act does not have anything in it
to protect the rights of women and children in a family breakdown. That is the
The second reason is economic. On reserves, 95 per cent of people are usually
unemployed. They have no hope at all. They live on welfare, which creates many
other serious social issues.
Our children are suffering. They do not have an identity. An identity crisis
is a serious matter, and this committee has that matter under serious
Your study is most enlightening, and I am sure it will help the committee in
its deliberations. However, we also have to consider the social aspects of this
We talk about the migration of people. Did you know that the majority of
people living on-reserve, especially those living in the mid-Canada corridor,
have neither English nor French as their first language? Their Aboriginal
language is their mother tongue. When they come into the city, they are not
allowed to take English as a second language because they do not have a landed
immigrant certificate. These are the sorts of things that have to change.
Our children are suffering. As adults, as grandmothers and grandfathers, we
must consider how we can open up opportunities so that our young people can
survive in urban centres but still retain their own identity. That is my
observation as a grandmother.
If there are no other questions or observations from the committee, I would
like to thank you very much, Mr. Hanselmann. We appreciate the work that the
Canada West Foundation does in so many areas, especially this one.