Canadians For a New Partnership a welcome example of how Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals can achieve progress without government taking the lead.

OTTAWA, Sept. 4, 2014 – The Macdonald-Laurier Institute welcomes the newly-announced partnership of former prime ministers Paul Martin and Joe Clark with Aboriginal leaders as a needed addition in the fight against the poverty and marginalization of First Nations peoples in Canada.

The new organization, known as the Canadians For a New Partnership, promises to bring together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians to engage in a common cause.

“Too often we have made the wrong choices or failed to deliver on the right ones. But we also know that – notwithstanding this – there is common ground between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. We hold the same hopes and dreams for our children and grandchildren”, said Martin in a statement for CFNP.

“I know because I see it every day in the classroom. If the seeds of agreement in this common ground are ever going to take root and grow, we will have to restore trust and build a foundation of goodwill between all Indigenous people and Canadians”.

The group also features former Assembly of First Nations chief Ovide Mercredi and Chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education Mary Simon as members of the board of the directors.

“The Macdonald-Laurier Institute salutes the founders of Canadians For a New Partnership. For too long Canadians have waited for government to do something to help Aboriginal peoples achieve the prosperity they deserve”, said Brian Lee Crowley, the Managing Director of MLI.

“We at the Institute are delighted to see such prestigious leaders complementing our long-standing efforts to bring together all Canadians (and not just governments) to take action on how to reshape the place of Indigenous peoples in Canada for the better”.

MLI Senior Fellow Ken Coates authored an op-ed earlier this month advocating for the creation of a “problem-solvers’ movement” on issues such as violence against Aboriginal women.

But instead of relying on government to take the lead, as those advocating for a national inquiry seem to favour, this would bring together community leaders, activists and the public.

“Finding an appropriate path of Aboriginal Canada requires two things, in equal measure”, says Coates. “Effective and creative public policies, created in consultation with Indigenous peoples and governments, and the substantial and sustained engagement of non-Aboriginal people, Canadian business and all levels of government in a collective and urgent process of reconciliation”.

MLI has emerged as a thought leader on Aboriginal issues in recent years.

Crowley and Coates produced two papers in 2013 about how natural resource development could re-shape the place of First Nations in Canada.

A paper by Douglas Bland, titled “Canada and the First Nations: Cooperation or conflict?”, examined the potentially disruptive confrontations that could emerge if more isn’t done to alter the fortunes of Aboriginal peoples.

“The study by Brian Lee Crowley and Ken Coates is a ‘home run’”, Martin said previously of MLI’s work. “The analysis by Douglas Bland will make many uncomfortable but it is a wake up call that must be read”.

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Brian Lee Crowley is the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and the author of several books, including the Canadian Century and Fearful Symmetry: the fall and rise of Canada’s founding values.

Ken Coates is the author of several books on Aboriginals in Canada and was recently appointed as an adviser to the New Brunswick government on provincial relations with First Nations.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

To arrange an interview with Ken Coates or Brian Lee Crowley, please contact MLI communications manager Mark Brownlee at 613-482-8327 x105 or mark.brownlee@macdonaldlaurier.ca.