Continuing the journey
The advent of a standalone ministry dedicated to Indigenous priorities and efforts in 2007 significantly assisted in building meaningful relationships, which in turn have created opportunities to improve outcomes. However, sustainable progress towards true reconciliation is only possible if respect for Indigenous peoples becomes embedded in every level of government. This process is underway, with individual ministries working more collaboratively with Indigenous partners, from consultation to transfers of authority.
Within government, efforts to increase cultural competency among the public service ensure relationships with Indigenous communities continues to evolve. Indigenous partners now have greater roles in designing and delivering programs and policies that directly impact communities. This is imperative. Indigenous peoples know what policies and programs will best meet the needs of their peoples and communities.
Measurable, lasting reforms in the justice system will only be identified through meaningful reductions in the incarceration rate of Indigenous peoples. Continued adoption of traditional practices means Indigenous communities play an increased role in the administration of justice. A combination of justice system reforms and culturally relevant programs will make women and their families feel safer in their own communities.
Economic reconciliation also means that Indigenous workers can access increased training and have greater opportunities in their own communities. Communities now play a more direct role in working with proponents who come to the negotiating table with a better understanding and respect for the role of treaties in this country. That better understanding in conjunction with clear guidelines for consulting with Indigenous communities means that Indigenous communities will benefit more directly as they share in the benefits of investments made by businesses and governments.
Ontario is committed to ensuring meaningful progress as we move into the next 10 years and beyond. This commitment can only be fulfilled if we journey forward with respect born of a mutual understanding, and by ensuring that we lead with partnerships that are as empowered as they are impactful. Above all, success will be defined by Indigenous peoples.