In a speech last week, Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called for a new approach to research on Indigenous issues, and pointed to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s work as an example to follow.

Bellegarde’s talk (beginning at about 52 mins of the video) was part of an event hosted on Nov. 18 and 19 by the University of Saskatchewan to bring Aboriginal leaders and university presidents together for an event titled “Building Reconciliation: Universities answering the TRC’s call for action”.

In his remarks about how universities can do work that is relevant to First Nations and Métis, Bellegarde pointed out that that while Canada is 6th on the UN Development Index, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples would rank 63rd,, with poor outcomes in terms of health and education, high incarceration rates, and boil water advisories on reserves. “We are all treaty peoples”, stated Bellegarde, but he lamented that too few Canadians understand Aboriginal issues.

Bellegarde stressed the need for research that is practical, timely, applied and policy oriented, accessible to policy makers, and delivered with impact. This is just the kind of effective approach MLI has become known for with its Aboriginal Canada and the Natural Resource Economy project.

Bellegarde specifically referenced the reports of MLI Senior Fellow Ken Coates, applauding his practical take on topics such as the benefits of governments sharing resource revenues with Aboriginal communities. In his 2015 paper, Sharing the Wealth, Coates demonstrated how resource revenue sharing is already becoming a reality in a number of Canadian jurisdictions, and how this emerging policy issue could be part of the key to unlocking the benefits of resource development for Aboriginal peoples, industry, and all Canadians.

According to Coates, “resource revenue sharing is the price that Aboriginal communities can and will require in order to support development in their territories”.

Coates is the Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, as well as the Director of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2013 he was named the Macdonald-Laurier Institute's Senior Fellow in Aboriginal and Northern Canadian Issues.

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