Reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—March 12, 2020

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The minister of Public Services and Procurement along with all ministers has been mandated by the Prime Minister of Canada to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

The minister will work with the minister of Indigenous Services and the president of the Treasury Board to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses to succeed and grow by creating a new target to have at least 5% of federal contracts awarded to businesses managed and led by Indigenous Peoples.

Key messages


In this section

Through procurement, real property, language services and services to other government departments across the country, the department is engaged with Indigenous businesses, communities and governments at the operational level. Moreover, it has established a dedicated unit to coordinate and build upon existing reconciliation activities across the department with a view to developing the organization’s first Reconciliation Strategy to enable the department to engage with Indigenous partners systematically and in a coordinated way to advance outcomes including recognizing self-determination, reducing socio-economic gaps and strengthening the Indigenous-Crown relationship.

The examples below are not exhaustive, but illustrate the breadth of activity within the department.

Procurement background

Federal procurement is widely recognized as an important lever for increasing socio-economic benefits for Indigenous businesses and peoples. As outlined in more detail in the material in this package on the Indigenous Procurement Strategy, the department is working towards increasing procurement with Indigenous businesses to 5% of its total procurement. The department will also continue to leverage its role and expertise as the common service provider for federal procurement services and will work with Indigenous Services Canada to refine the Indigenous Procurement Strategy to include a broader range of procurements.

Real property background

Considering the significant investment and planned activities over the next decade and beyond in the National Capital Region (including the Parliamentary Precinct), the department is exploring work with Employment and Social Development Canada and other government departments (and through memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Algonquin governments) to establish training, employment, and business opportunities with Indigenous partners. These activities will allow for collaborative, long-term planning on PSPC’s activities, including disposal of assets and contracting. Further investment in capacity development within Indigenous communities, and the establishment of a mechanism for providing Indigenous businesses with information on future Government of Canada projects could help to advance these partnerships.

The department also has a role to play in establishing and updating practices to ensure a consistent government-wide approach to the valuation and transfer of federal lands to Indigenous groups through different processes such as disposal; treaty negotiations; recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination tables; self-government and comprehensive claim negotiations; and accommodation as a result of the duty to consult.

Indigenous peoples space at 100 Wellington street background

Public Services and Procurement Canada is supporting the redevelopment of the former United States embassy as a space for Indigenous Peoples directly across from Parliament Hill. Public Services and Procurement Canada supports Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada in the engagement with the National Indigenous Organizations and the Algonquins of Ontario and the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation of Quebec.

Language services background

In January 2019, for the first time in the history of Parliament, the Translation Bureau began offering Indigenous language interpretation services to the House of Commons, including in Oneida sign language. This marks the first time Indigenous languages were translated and included in Hansard. The bureau is continuing to provide translation services in Indigenous languages and is planning on developing standing offers to expand Indigenous language services to the whole of government and offer government services/products in Indigenous languages.

Recruitment, training and culture background

Public Services and Procurement Canada is working to develop an Indigenous recruitment and retention strategy for its workforce as well as to create an Indigenous space for the benefit of employees. Given the importance of ensuring employees and senior leaders have sufficient cultural literacy to engage appropriately and constructively with Indigenous partners and stakeholders, opportunities for training are being explored and encouraged in cooperation with the Canada School of Public Service.

Regional perspectives background

Across the country, the department’s regional operations engage closely with communities on projects ranging from property disposals for Cape Breton operations in the Atlantic region, to the development of strong relationships with first nations communities adjacent to the Esquimalt Graving Dock in British Columbia, to local engagement and capacity-building in the context of the Giant Mine remediation project in the Northwest Territories. Many of the most direct impacts of the department’s activities are seen in the work of the regional offices, making them critical to advancing on reconciliation from a departmental perspective.

Question and answers

Question 1: How long will it take for PSPC to develop its Reconciliation Strategy?

Answer 1: While we don’t have a specific timeframe established, the development of the strategy will take time since it will require engagement with both our Indigenous partners and PSPC employees.

Question 2: How will Indigenous partners be engaged? Which Indigenous partners will be engaged?

Answer 2: A variety of tools will be used to engage our Indigenous partners. PSPC works with many different Indigenous groups and it is imperative that they all have the opportunity to be engaged. Rights holders, Indigenous organizations, and Indigenous businesses are PSPC’s main partners.

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