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Press Release – Ottawa, August 19, 2014 – In just over 40 years, Canada’s territories have undergone a dramatic transformation in how they are governed, and much of the credit should go to the public service and Aboriginal self-governments in the North, according to a Conference Board of Canada report from its Centre for the North.
“The achievements of the territorial public sector have attracted considerable attention across Canada and internationally. Despite stretched human resources, elected representatives and public servants in the territorial North have been key drivers of Northern development,” said Anja Jeffrey, Director, Northern and Aboriginal Policy.
“They have dealt with the process of devolution, stabilized the public sector, and increased Aboriginal participation. Perhaps most importantly, but often overlooked, is the way that they have focused on solving practical problems, from public health and education to environmental assessment and judicial reform, ” Jeffrey added.
One of the most important innovations in the territorial North is the effective integration of Aboriginal ideas, values, people, and organizations into governance.
While reconciling differences in cultural approaches has not always been easy, the emergence of self-governing Aboriginal communities and the establishment of Aboriginal development corporations have transformed Northern governance. Aboriginal development corporations in particular have become central players in realizing the North’s potential through their management of the assets arising out of land claim settlements and resource activity.
“The empowerment of the Northern public sector and Aboriginal communities is good news for Canada, as the territories collectively continue to outperform the rest of country in annual economic growth,” Jeffrey said. “What’s more, Canada’s North has world-leading capabilities in areas such as modern treaties, Aboriginal self-government, co-management of natural resources and cross-cultural participation.”
Challenges still abound in the North – from the high cost of doing business and the remoteness of communities to the slow pace of treaty implementation and the never- ceasing human resource and capacity issues – but the governance achievements of the past four decades provide a solid foundation for progress.
The Centre for the North is a forum for research and dialogue on Northern and Aboriginal issues that brings together Aboriginal leaders, businesses, governments, and community advocates.
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