Chapter 4. Urban Indigenous People in Canada

Indigenous People in Canada often live and work in urban settings. Over the last decade, there has been a strong trend towards the urbanisation of Indigenous People. In some cities, such as Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, the Indigenous population represents a significant segment of the labour market and local economy. This chapter outlines the key role played by local governments in Canada in delivering Indigenous services. It also outlines several initiatives and examples of programmes and policies targeted to urban Indigenous People.

    

Local government in Canada

Municipal governments in Canada

Municipal governments in Canada constitute a local government unit, which is often responsible for delivering a range of public services. Municipal governments in Canada are largely accountable to their respective province. While municipal governments are highly varied across Canada, the recent trend has seen many provinces and territories introducing legislation and regulation to give them more autonomy in how they deliver services and programmes. Relative to other OECD countries, the number of municipal government units in Canada is significantly less than that of the United States, Germany, and Spain (other countries, which are federations), partially due to a lower population. In 2015, there were 3 945 municipal government units across Canada. This is higher than countries, such as Mexico (2 458), Switzerland (2 225), Austria (2 122), Belgium (589), and Australia (563).

Figure 4.1. Number of municipal government units, selected OECD countries, 2015
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Source: OECD (2018), "Subnational government structure and finance", OECD Regional Statistics (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724271

Urban development policies

In terms of fostering Indigenous, non-Indigenous and governmental partnerships within an urban context, Canada does not currently have a national urban policy in place. Therefore, policies concerning urban development are designed through national sectorial and subnational policies. Currently, the exchange of information and ideas between governing bodies occurs regularly within First Ministers Meetings or Conferences (FMMs). The stakeholders included in these meetings include federal, territorial and provincial representatives. However, other councils have developed to contribute to these efforts. In addition, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) have roles in regional economic development which include regional policy advocacy at the national level, collecting local economic data, increasing foreign investment, and boosting innovation (OECD, 2017).

However, historically, Canada had several national frameworks on urban policy. In 1995 Urban Development Agreements were created (however, they were all discontinued by 2010). Not long after the creation of Urban Development Agreements, an Urban Aboriginal Strategy was established in 1997 by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada seeking to improve the integration of Indigenous People within metropolitan areas. In 2001, the Caucus Task Force on Urban Issues gave recommendations which further developed infrastructure policies. Although, the Task Force’s “suggestion of an urban ministry was rejected because cities are under the responsibility of provinces [and territories]” (OECD, 2017). In 2003, a Cities Secretariat was formed and later merged within Infrastructure Canada. Finally, New Deals for cities and communities were implemented in 2004-2005. “The objectives were to ensure predictable long-term funding for communities of all sizes, provide more effective programme support for infrastructure and social priorities, give communities a stronger voice, and to improve the co-operation between federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments” (OECD, 2017). In return for these new rights, cities acquired new responsibilities in terms of taxes and transfers (OECD, 2017).

Current mechanisms influencing urban policy

The nationwide bodies that work on issues relating to urban development reside within the economic, housing, infrastructure and monetary sectors. In particular, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Gas Tax Fund and Infrastructure Canada act as key bodies that shape policies and funding of urban development. Additionally, funding for urban infrastructure is included in the 2016 national budget plan. Specifically this includes “investments in public transit, waste and wastewater services, and affordable housing” (OECD, 2017). In the same year, premiers from Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec pledged support to new infrastructure agreements for public transit and water as well (OECD, 2017).

The evolution of municipal powers

The distribution of powers to municipal government is slowly evolving. For instance, the City of Toronto Act of 2006 has widened the general powers of the Canada’s largest city. Seeing the need for more harmonized design and implementation of policies, the City of Toronto Act was created to give the municipality more autonomy in managing its jurisdiction. While the province of Ontario still has jurisdiction in Toronto, the Act of Toronto recognizes that the city has local knowledge and legitimate authority in managing itself regarding several issues (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, 2018).

While municipal powers are evolving in Canada, municipal governments do not have the same level of financial capacity and resources as local governments in countries, such as Sweden, Finland, and the United States. Spending by local governments made up 8.7% of Canadian GDP in 2015; while the average among OECD countries was 16.4% (see Figure 4.2).

Figure 4.2. Total expenditure incurred by local levels of government as a percentage of GDP, 2015
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Source: OECD (2018), "Subnational government structure and finance", OECD Regional Statistics (database).

Note: Values for Chile, Finland, Norway; Sweden and the United States correspond to sub-national (rather than local) levels of government.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724290

Box 4.1. More responsibility and autonomy for Canada’s two largest cities

The move to give cities more responsibility in the management of policies and programmes is exemplified in the City of Toronto Act as well as move to establish the City of Montreal as Metropolis.

In the Province of Ontario, on January 1, 2007 the City of Toronto Act, 2006 came into force, setting out a broad, permissive legislative framework for the city that gives it more tools commensurate with its size, responsibilities and significance. The City of Toronto Act brings about a legislative framework for Toronto that balances the interests of the province and the city. Toronto’s council is now better able to respond to the city’s needs.

The city has broad powers to pass by-laws on matters ranging from health and safety to the city’s economic, social and environmental well-being, subject to certain limitations. City by-laws can better deal with the financial management of Toronto and the accountability and transparency of its operations.

The act helps to ensure that the city is accountable to the public and that the processes for making decisions are transparent. The City is better able to determine the appropriate mechanisms for delivering municipal services, determine the appropriate levels of municipal spending, and use fiscal tools to support the city’s activities.

In Quebec, Bill 121 has been introduced which grants Montreal the status of “metropolis”. This legislation provides new fiscal and regulatory powers to the City, as well as an ability to grant direct subsidies and tax credits to attract inward investments.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs (2018), available at http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page343.aspx; National Assembly Quebec (2017),“An Act to increase the autonomy powers of Ville de Montréal”, Québec, available at http://www2.publicationsduquebec.gouv.qc.ca/dynamicSearch/telecharge.php?type=5&file=2017C16A.PDF.

Understanding Canada’s urban Indigenous population

Urban Indigenous People

The term urban Indigenous People refers primarily to First Nation, Inuit, and Métis individuals currently residing in CMAs. It is critical to look at urban policy setting when analysing the employment and economic development outcomes of Indigenous People in Canada because the off-reserve population is the fastest growing segment of Canadian society (Indigeneous and Northern Affairs Canada, 2018). According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 867 415 Indigenous People lived in a metropolitan area of at least 30 000 people, accounting for over half (51.8%) of the total Indigenous population. From 2006 to 2016, the number of Indigenous People living in a metropolitan area of this size increased by 59.7% (Statistics Canada, 2017a). This urbanisation is due to multiple factors—including demographic growth, mobility and changing patterns of self-reported identity.

Urban Indigenous People population trends

At an urban level, the largest population of Indigenous Canadians reported in the 2016 Census is found in Winnipeg (92 810 persons). However, the largest population percent distribution of Indigenous People in a census metropolitan area (CMA) in the 2016 Census is 12.7% in Thunder Bay. After Thunder Bay, Winnipeg has the second highest percentage of Indigenous People within the population at 12.2% (Statistics Canada, 2017b).

Figure 4.3. Indigenous populations per CMA, Population Count, 2011 and 2016
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Note: Only the 2016 counts provided in this table are unadjusted. Therefore, the 2016 Census counts are not based on adjusted counts for the incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements of previous census years, while the percentage change is based on adjusted counts.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016) 2016 Census of Population. Aboriginal identity population by both sexes, total - age, 2016 counts, Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-402-X2016009. Ottawa. Released 25 October 2017. http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/hlt-fst/aboaut/Table.cfm?Lang=Eng&T=102&S=102&O=D&RPP=9999.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724309

Figure 4.4 shows the change in the distribution of the Indigenous population within Canada’s largest cities from 2011-16. One can see that in all of Canada’s largest cities (except for Regina), the percentage of the population reporting Indigenous identity increased relative to the overall city population. This increase was particularly pronounced in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay; however even larger cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver saw an increase in the percentage of the overall population reporting Indigenous identity. In Winnipeg, the Indigenous population has reached nearly 92 810 – more than four times higher than it was 25 years earlier.

Figure 4.4. Indigenous populations per CMA, population % distribution, 2011 and 2016
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Note: Only the 2016 counts provided in this table are unadjusted. Therefore, the 2016 Census counts are not based on adjusted counts for the incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements of previous census years, while the percentage change is based on adjusted counts.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Aboriginal identity population by both sexes, total - age, 2016 % distribution, Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-402-X2016009. Ottawa. Released 25 October 2017, http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/hlt-fst/abo-aut/Table.cfm?Lang=Eng&T=102&D1=4&D2=1&D3=1&RPP=50&PR=0&SR=1&S=84&O=D.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724328

Over the last ten years, the urban Indigenous population in Canada has been growing steadily. Figure 4.5 illustrates that during the last decade, many of Canada’s major cities have seen significant growth in the overall proportion of the city population reporting Indigenous identity versus non-Indigenous People (Statistics Canada, 2017b). This rapid rate of growth can be attributed to a number of common demographic factors, such as: fertility, mobility and migration. Another important factor is the increasing tendency for people to identify themselves as Indigenous, who may not have done so in previous censuses.

Figure 4.5. Aboriginal identity population by both sexes, total - age, % change (2006 to 2016), Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data
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Note: Only the 2016 counts provided in this table are unadjusted. The growth rates for the Aboriginal identity population for the periods 2011 to 2016 and 2006 to 2016 have been adjusted for incompletely enumerated Indian reserves and Indian settlements, and other changes in reserves to allow for comparison of the different census year periods.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Aboriginal identity population by both sexes, total - age, % change (2006 to 2016), Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-402-X2016009. Ottawa. Released 25 October 2017, http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/hlt-fst/abo aut/Table.cfm?Lang=Eng&T=102&S=84&O=D&RPP=9999.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724347

Understanding the socio-economic outcomes of Canada’s urban Indigenous population

When comparing the percentage of the population not in the labour force, one can see large gaps between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population across Canada’s largest cities. The gap was particularly high in Winnipeg, Quebec City, Thunder Bay, and Edmonton.

While Indigenous socio-economic outcomes often trail the non-Indigenous population, Statistics Canada notes that Canada's urban Indigenous population is also very mobile. One in four urban Indigenous People were living in a different residence one year prior to the 2006 Census, by moving within the same city or moving from a different community, like a First Nation Reserve or another urban or rural area (Statistics Canada, 2010). This high rate of mobility creates some challenges for accessing and providing services, particularly services like education, employment training and housing.

Figure 4.6. Percentage of Indigenous and non-Indigenous identity populations not in the labour force, ages 15-64, most-populated Canadian metropolitan areas, 2016
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Note: Thunder Bay refers to the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Greater Sudbury – Thunder Bay. Tri-Cities stands for Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, data extracted by Employment and Skills Development Canada, received 11 April 2018.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724366

Figure 4.7 shows the employment rate gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups across Canada’s largest cities. On this indicator, there are fairly significant gaps, especially in places such as Thunder Bay (22.1%), Winnipeg (17.1%), Edmonton (13.9%), and Hamilton (13.8%). In contrast, Ottawa-Gatineau (5.5%) and Montréal (5.6%) have the lowest gaps in employment rates between the outcomes of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population (Statistics Canada, 2016b).

Substantial differences can also be seen within the unemployment rate (see Figure 4.8) between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population. In Ottawa-Gatineau, Québec City and Montréal, there is at least a 3 percentage point difference between the two groups. While Montreal was the highest performer in 2016, with very similar outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups at one of the lowest unemployment rates within Canadian CMAs, Ottawa-Gatineau and Québec City have also improved their outcomes over the past five years (Statistics Canada, 2011; Statistics Canada, 2016b).

Figure 4.7. Employment rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous identity populations, ages 15-64, most-populated Canadian metropolitan areas, 2016
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Note: Thunder Bay refers to the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Greater Sudbury – Thunder Bay. Tri-Cities stands for Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, data extracted by Employment and Skills Development Canada, received 11 April 2018.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724385

Figure 4.8. Unemployment rates of Indigenous and non-Indigenous identity populations, ages 15-64, most-populated Canadian metropolitan areas, %, 2016
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Note: Thunder Bay refers to the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Greater Sudbury – Thunder Bay. Tri-Cities stands for Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA.

Source: Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, data extracted by Employment and Skills Development Canada, received 11 April 2018.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933724404

Urban Indigenous policies and programmes in Canada

Urban Programming

Delivered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Urban Programming for Indigenous People, which replaces the former Urban Aboriginal Strategy, is designed to assist First Nations (status and non-status), Inuit and Métis People living in or transitioning to urban centres. The programming has four streams of funding including organisational capacity, programmes and services, coalitions and research and innovation. Through targeted programme support for youth, women, vulnerable populations, transition services, outreach, and community wellbeing, the Urban Programming for Indigenous People will directly contribute to the improvement of the socio-economic opportunities for urban Indigenous Canadians. Funding for this programme is CAD 43 million annually over five years (2017-2022).

The national Indigenous stakeholders involved in the implementation of programmes are the Métis Nation, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the friendship centre movement. This programme has a specific funding stream to support Local Coalitions. These Coalitions will bring together all orders of government, local organisations, and other stakeholders to identify local needs and priorities and ensure efficient and coordinated delivery of urban Indigenous programmes. The primary goals are to promote collaboration at the local level, identify local needs and develop local plans on how to best address and prioritize needs. The Coalitions need to demonstrate inclusiveness and encourage the active participation of a wide range of stakeholders. Non-Indigenous stakeholders include the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and provincial and municipal governments. Other federal departments/agencies providing complementary programmes and services for urban Indigenous People are also involved in the implementation of new programming.

In the summer and fall of 2016, INAC conducted a multifaceted engagement regarding the needs of the urban Indigenous community, and how these needs could be addressed through renewed urban programming. Engagement included the following activities: twenty-one roundtables across Canada, town hall meetings hosted by parliamentarians, specific engagement activities organized by National Indigenous Organizations targeting their respective members. Specific sessions were also held with the Métis Nation through the Métis National Council, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council and the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services.

Outreach efforts

In keeping with the Canadian Government’s approach to ensure inclusive growth, ESDC and Service Canada have undertaken important outreach efforts, to further identify and address barriers that may impact access to the benefits by these more vulnerable communities. Specifically, outreach by Service Canada is focused on:

  • Establishing or strengthening relationships with Reserve and Northern communities;

  • Understanding barriers to uptake and the extent in each community, and

  • Tailoring outreach support in a manner respectful of the communities and increase the likelihood of increasing uptake.

Initial efforts confirmed a potential challenge with benefit uptake on reserves, and further outreach was undertaken to help define it. To help accomplish this, Service Canada and the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) have been engaging with Reserve and Northern communities across the country to raise awareness of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). Efforts include information sessions on the CCB, and other benefits, and how to access. Social Insurance Number (SIN) services on reserves have also been provided.

Moving forward, Service Canada and the CRA will continue to visit Reserves and Northern communities to support tax filing and the benefits application process. As more analysis of uptake becomes available, ESDC will continue to refine the outreach approach to maximize the effectiveness of this activity.

Indigenous initiatives managed at the city level – lessons from the case studies

The City of Winnipeg

Winnipeg has the largest Indigenous population of any city in Canada with 92 810 people identifying as Indigenous — First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Looking across Canada, the Métis population (587 545) had the largest increase of any of the groups between 2006 and 2016, rising 51.2%. The largest population is in Winnipeg, which had 52 130 Métis in 2016, an increase of 28%. Given the significant number of Indigenous People within the city, a number of initiatives have been launched to improve labour market and economic development outcomes while also supporting the reconciliation process.

For example, in July 2010, the City of Winnipeg partnered with the Province of Manitoba as well as the Canadian federal government to sign a memorandum of collaboration to work together to better align resources to improve the socio-economic outcomes of Indigenous People in Winnipeg. An Intergovernmental Strategic Indigenous Alignment (ISIA) Working Group was established to develop a five year strategic plan. The working group included: City of Winnipeg, Manager of Indigenous Relations; Manitoba Indigenous and Municipal Relations, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives; and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Manitoba Regional Director.

The three levels of government identified four strategic areas of intergovernmental collaboration: 1) Education, Training, and Lifelong Learning; 2) Employment and Economic Development; 3) Building Capacity, Community Supports and Personal Engagement; and Supporting Community Wellness and Safety. The initial memorandum of collaboration also identified nine principles, which would guide how the three levels of government would work together.

An evaluation on this multi-governance collaboration was carried out in 2015 by the City of Winnipeg. It found that there are multiple options for intergovernmental alignment: however alignment is only a means to an end, and deep alignment is difficult to achieve. The evaluation noted that the volume, pace and quality of ISIA work was limited by side-of-the-desk participation, membership turnover, and insufficient resources for coordination support. One of the key recommendations from this evaluation was the need to establish a dedicated coordination support unit and consider a shared pool of funding to develop joint projects and programmes.

Going forward, in 2015 the ISIA Working Group has developed an Administrative Letter of Understanding with a supporting Statement of Work which outlines four priority areas, strategies and activities the group will collaborate on and have defined:

  • Welcoming Winnipeg: to create a welcoming environment in the City of Winnipeg, increase cultural awareness through highlighting Indigenous People’s roles and contributions in the evolution of the City of Winnipeg and engaging newcomers and visitors to build on lasting relationships for our shared future;

  • Urban Reserves: to support Indigenous Communities to develop Urban Reserves or Urban Economic Development Zones within the City of Winnipeg and to support the City of Winnipeg in its efforts to negotiate Municipal Development Service Agreements (MDSAs) with various First Nations, and

  • Sustainable Livelihoods Model project: to update a current database of services accessed by Winnipeg’s Indigenous population, the project will examine and layer on demographic information to try to determine if the existing programmes and services match where the Indigenous population of Winnipeg may be at. This information will increase knowledge about community programmes and services for individuals, community organisations, and funders.

Local leadership in Winnipeg has been critical in building a sense of community awareness and aligning efforts to improve Indigenous outcomes. Recently, the Mayor of Winnipeg established the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle (MIAC) which is a promising example of partnership working that could be emulated in other cities in Canada (see Box 4.2).

Box 4.2. City of Winnipeg – Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Council

In 2015, the Mayor of the City of Winnipeg announced the establishment of a Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle (MIAC). The role of the MIAC is to advise on policies the City of Winnipeg can implement to continue to build awareness, bridges and understanding between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community. Meetings of the Advisory Circle are held quarterly and members include Indigenous elders, First Nation Chiefs, as well as members from the education and university sectors, and Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.

A key achievement of the MIAC is the Indigenous Accord, which was adopted by City Council on March 22, 2017. The Indigenous Accord is living document to guide the shared commitment to the Journey of Reconciliation in Winnipeg. Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord is not a single-time event, but an ongoing responsibility accepted by signatories, who through becoming partners to the Accord agree to report the success of their commitment to reconciliation. It outlines a vision of reconciliation as well as a series of important commitments and principles.

Source: City of Winnipeg (2018), Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, available at:

http://www.winnipeg.ca/Indigenous/WIA/default.stm.

The City of Calgary

The City of Calgary is situated in the traditional territory of the Niitsitapi and the people of Treaty 7 at the confluence of the Elbow River and the Bow River. Calgary Indigenous population comprises 17 955 First Nations, 22 220 Métis, and 440 Inuit.

The Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee (CAUAC) has been established as a collaborative effort between The City of Calgary and Indigenous communities to address and resolve issues pertaining to urban Indigenous residents. On behalf of City Council, the CAUAC investigates areas of concern to people of Aboriginal ancestry and makes recommendations on policies and resolutions that give urban Indigenous People a more meaningful role within the Calgary community.

After consultations with Treaty 7 traditional knowledge keepers, urban Indigenous People and City stakeholders, the CAUAC proposed the Indigenous Policy and Indigenous Policy Framework. Together, they recommend and guide meaningful long-term efforts to bring Indigenous identities, histories, cultures, languages, traditions, principles, world views, relationships and ways of knowing into municipal planning, advising and decision-making efforts. City Council approved the policy and framework in April 2017.

The purpose of this Council Policy is guide the city council on how best to listen to, learn from, and act on ways forward with Indigenous communities in planning, advising and decision-making. The City’s Indigenous Policy Framework consists of four ways forward that include: 1) Ways of Knowing; 2) Ways of Engaging; 3) Ways of Building Relationships; and 4) Ways Towards Equitable Environments. There are several proposed policy statements, emerging from the Policy Framework (see Box 6.3 for a summary).

In 2017, City Council adopted the Indigenous Policy Framework to help guide the City’s efforts to be responsive to the needs of Indigenous People in Calgary (see Box 4.3).

Consultations and partnerships with Indigenous People is also a central piece of the 10 year Economic Strategy of Calgary, which was last updated in 2014. The Strategy was developed through a deep stakeholder consultation process, led by the Mayor of Calgary with key organisations having been requested to serve on the Leadership and Implementation Committee which meets three times annually to discuss progress. The 10 year Economic Strategy outlines 31 actions of which a key component is assisting First Nations and Indigenous People to build their professional networks. The strategy also highlights the importance of developing entrepreneurial programmes specific to First Nations and Indigenous youth.

The city also plays a key role as a service contact point for many First Nations and Indigenous People, often coordinating and connecting these individuals to services offered by organisations in the city such as Community Futures Treaty Seven, Aboriginal Futures Career and Training Centre, as well as Métis Nation of Alberta Employment Services Zone III.

One interesting programme is the Indigenous Awareness E-learning programme which is targeted to employers and designed to help an employer or supervisor of Indigenous employees understand the current social, economic, and political situation of Indigenous People and provide tools to increase Indigenous employment and retention. This E-learning course can be taken at any time and modules taken in any order. 

Box 4.3. Indigenous Policy Framework for the City of Calgary

The City of Calgary has established an Indigenous Policy Framework, which outlines the following actions along four pillars:

Ways of Knowing

  • The City of Calgary should undertake formal cross-cultural awareness and education on Indigenous histories, cultures, languages, worldviews, Indigenous and treaty rights, Treaty 7, and relationships, as professional development for City staff and Council and part of broader awareness for Calgarians where appropriate.

  • The City of Calgary should support learning opportunities for City Administration to share and exchange knowledge with Treaty 7 First Nations on matters of historical, traditional, and cultural significance due to their traditional territory and urban Indigenous People on matters of contemporary significance.

Ways of Engaging

  • The City of Calgary will support and advance multiple projects to respectfully engage Treaty 7 First Nations Knowledge Keepers by identifying opportunities early in the planning of City projects, processes and events related to matters of historical, traditional, and cultural significance to Treaty 7 First Nations.

  • The City of Calgary will develop engagement processes and opportunities with Treaty 7 First Nations on matters of historical, traditional, and cultural significance due to their traditional territory.

  • The City of Calgary will develop engagement processes and opportunities with Indigenous communities, leadership, and organisations on matters of contemporary significance.

Ways of Building Relationships

  • The City of Calgary will prioritize, form and maintain beneficial leadership-to-leadership relationships with Treaty 7 First Nations and urban Indigenous communities based on mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility.

  • The City of Calgary shall work together with Treaty 7 First Nations to:

    • Strengthen understandings of the diverse identities, histories, cultures, languages, worldviews, relationships, and connections to the land of individual Treaty 7 First Nations;

    • Identify matters of common interest and understand community priorities;

    • Improve communication through dialogue and formal agreements;

    • Explore opportunities to collaborate on joint initiatives, policies, strategies, and decision making processes;

    • Explore opportunities for The City to reflect on the shared foundations and history of the traditional territory through communication, ceremony, practices and capacity-building, and

    • Find common ground from which to reconcile matters of historical, cultural, and traditional significance, including territorial matters with Treaty 7 leadership.

  • The City of Calgary will work together with urban Indigenous People, community leaders and organisations when related to corporate matters to:

  • Strengthen understandings of the diverse identities, histories, languages, cultures perspectives, and lived experiences of First Nations, Métis and Inuit People who call Calgary home or have an historical association with the land within the boundaries of Calgary;

    • Identify matters of common interest and understand community opportunities;

    • Improve communication through dialogue and formal agreements;

    • Explore opportunities to collaborate on joint initiatives, policies, strategies, and decision-making processes;

    • Explore opportunities for The City to reflect on the shared foundations and history of the traditional territory as it relates to urban Indigenous communities through communication, ceremony, practices, and capacity-building and

    • Find common ground from which to reconcile matters of contemporary significance.

Ways Towards Equitable Environments

  • The City of Calgary, when updating existing policies and/or practices, will strive to understand the potential impacts on Treaty 7 First Nations and other Indigenous communities.

  • The City of Calgary will explore opportunities for Administration to collaborate with Indigenous communities to produce inclusive and equitable amendments to include Indigenous practices.

The City of Calgary, when developing new policies and/or practices, will explore opportunities to collaborate on meaningful and innovative strategic directions and approaches with Treaty 7 First Nations and other appropriate Indigenous communities.

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Ontario is Canada’s second largest and most populous province, covering approximately 1 million square kilometres. In 2017, Ontario’s population increased by 1.6% to a total of 14 193 384 people (Statistics Canada, 2017a). The 2016 census counted 1.67 million Indigenous People in Canada accounting for approximately 4.9% of the total population. As of 2016, a total of 179 970 Indigenous People resided in Ontario, representing 1.34% of the provincial population.

With a population of 124 200, Thunder Bay is the largest city in North-western Ontario and is home to nearly half of the region’s population. It is located on the north shore of Lake Superior and is often referred to as the Lakehead because it is situated at the head of the Great Lakes. In 2016, 12.7% (15 445) of the population of Thunder Bay had an Indigenous identity (Statistics Canada, 2017a). In the latest available Canadian Census, among all CMAs in the country, Thunder Bay's Indigenous People accounted for the highest proportion (12.7%) of the overall population.

In Thunder Bay, an Aboriginal Liaison Strategy has been established by the City Council. The Aboriginal Liaison plays a lead role in establishing relationships within the City’s growing urban Indigenous community as well as with those organisations, agencies and groups representing and serving the Indigenous community within the City. The City aims to strengthen understanding between the Indigenous community and the City. This process of engagement will lead to the identification and agreement of urban Indigenous priorities within Thunder Bay. In addition, the Aboriginal Liaison will work within the City to raise awareness and understanding of the cultural protocols and sensitivities involved in engaging with and serving the Indigenous community.

The plan will be reviewed each year, to identify the areas of focus for the next working year and the financial supports that will be required. Indicators of success have been identified as:

  • Improvements to Statistics Canada numbers (Employment, education, homelessness, poverty);

  • Increased participation by the Indigenous community in City services and programmes;

  • Indigenous People becoming more engaged in municipal politics and governance (boards and committees);

  • Feeling welcomed and respected;

  • More and on-going involvement with Mayor, Council and Administration and

  • Seeing Indigenous People being positively represented in the community.

Interestingly, one of the strategies outlined in Thunder Bay’s Aboriginal Liaison Strategy includes focus on the City’s role as an employer of Indigenous People. The Strategy notes the City of Thunder Bay should become an employer of choice for Indigenous People. This includes developing culturally sensitive and specific recruitment materials to market working at the City to Indigenous communities as well internship programmes to provide work experience opportunities. The City also outlines the importance of cultural sensitivity training to all new employees as part of their orientation.

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick. The city is nestled in the west-central portion of the province, along the shores of the Saint John River, which stands to be the prevailing natural feature of the area. Being one of the main urban centres in New Brunswick, the city had a population of 101 760 in the 2016 census. In 2016, 15% of Indigenous People in New Brunswick lived in Fredericton. Of those, 76% identified as First Nations (Statistics Canada, 2017a).

In 2017, the City of Fredericton announced a Transit Fare Assistance Program, which provides regular single-ride and Para Transit tickets to 36 community agencies or programmes – many of whom work with Indigenous People and clients. The programme is designed to provide additional support to community groups as they assist their clients’ efforts to attend medical appointments, access education and training, seek employment or visit service providers.  

In the area of economic development, the City of Fredericton works with Ignite Fredericton, which is the region’s business focused economic development corporation offering assistance to business to start, grow, and locate in Fredericton. Ignite Fredericton offers a range of business advice services and would assist in connecting Indigenous People to customised supports. The City of Fredericton does not have an overall Indigenous policy framework, which can be found in the other cities examined at part of this OECD study. This is likely because of its smaller size and capacity relative to Calgary, Winnipeg, and Thunder Bay.

Critical success factors identified from the case studies

Policy coordination among federal, provincial, and local governments

Under the Indian Act, the federal government has traditionally defined its responsibility to Indigenous People as focused only those persons living on-reserves. Furthermore, provinces and cities in Canada have tended to see all Indigenous People (even those in cities) as a federal responsibility (Carli, 2013).

While the examples from Winnipeg, Calgary, and Thunder Bay show strategic efforts to align programmes and services to meet the needs of urban Indigenous People, policy coordination and partnership working with Indigenous communities across levels of government remains an on-going challenge. Some researchers have suggested that federal, provincial, and municipal governments rarely agree upon financial responsibility for Indigenous People in an urban setting, often resulting in a “policy patchwork” with jurisdictional ambiguities (Marcie Snyder, 2015). Frequently, Indigenous People experience difficulty in obtaining service information and are not aware of what services are available – both in situations where an Indigenous person may be moving from an on-reserve setting to a city or even when an Indigenous person may be moving within a city.

At the local municipal level in Canada, there is a broad mix of federal, provincial, and municipal programming which aims to improve the outcomes of Indigenous People, who are often face multiple barriers to employment. In some cases, Indigenous service delivery can often overlap and create duplication with several organisations operating in the same policy space. Other researchers have observed instances of infrequent communication reducing key partners’ impact at the local level (Alcantara & Nelles, 2016). Increased frequency and quality of communication between service providers can be a critical success factor in producing successful outcomes within partnerships.

Good governance is important to make decisions that are informed, open and transparent. By collectively conversing with local stakeholders, organisations can make assessments that reflect the broad interest of the community and in turn promote community confidence.

Across the case studies examined for this OECD study, all are interested in constantly engaging with key stakeholders to discuss workforce gaps and arising opportunities. It was noted by many of the case study representatives that by having an open dialogue, all parties are aware of communities’ vision for the future and can better align programmes and services to meet Indigenous People’s needs and local opportunities.

Coordinating access to services for urban Indigenous People

A clear theme that emerged from the case study analysis of this OECD study is the need to better coordinate access to services for urban Indigenous People. Many urban Indigenous People often find it difficult to know where and how to access programmes and services, which can further exacerbate their disadvantage. Furthermore, often times, many service delivery organisations operating within cities across Canada would not necessary provide culturally sensitive services to Indigenous People. This situation can be especially challenging for Indigenous People who are moving from an on-reserve setting into an urban area. There is a need to coordinate services at the municipal level to ensure that clearer information is provided to indigenous person on where to go to access employment, skills development, and other training services.

Local leadership

There is a clear and important role to be played at the city level by Mayors, who bring together local service delivery organisations alongside the federal and provincial governments to align funding and policy objectives. Mayors regularly participate in local meetings with Indigenous communities to hear about their challenges and identify opportunities to labour market success. The examples from Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, and Calgary show a clear leadership role being taken by the municipal government to raise awareness of the importance of providing specific and customised supports to Indigenous People. These cities are also demonstrating leadership by articulating strategic policy frameworks targeted to the urban Indigenous population which is fundamental for better coordinating services and designing policy interventions.

Developing social capital and community-driven initiatives

In addition to enhanced policy coordination, a sense of community capital can further enhance local co-operation. In the literature, this has been defined as communities having a shared civic identity (Alcantara & Nelles, 2016). Many local initiatives can gain momentum because the communities (e.g. Indigenous and non-Indigenous People) identify and empathise with each other. Often, the most significant improvements in lives of Indigenous People come from within the community itself. While some initiatives have been small in scale, their impact is substantial. Many of these programmes also have the potential to be scalable depending on the local context in which they were and implemented and if the community desires.

These initiatives for Indigenous People should be led by Indigenous People, seeking to understand the needs of the population while simultaneously giving the Indigenous People their own autonomy and resources to achieve their goals. Approaches that disproportionately focus on the deficiencies of Indigenous communities are inaccurate and unhelpful. Therefore, any policy or programme that seeks to ameliorate the outcomes of Indigenous People needs to ascertain and centralise how Indigenous People wish to define success in the given context.

References

Alcantara, C. and J. Nelles (2016), Indigenous communities and local governments are powerful partners, http://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/august-2016/indigenous-communities-and-local-governments-are-powerful-partners/ (accessed on 28 August 2017).

Carli, V. (2013), The City as a "space of opportunity": Urban Indigenous Experiences and Community Safety Partnerships, Thompson Education Publishing.

City of Winnipeg (2018), Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, available at http://www.winnipeg.ca/Indigenous/WIA/default.stm.

Indigeneous and Northern Affairs Canada (2018), Urban Indigeneous Peoples, https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100014265/1369225120949.

Marcie Snyder, K. (2015), “Examining the Urban Aboriginal Policy Gap: Impacts on Service Delivery for Mobile Aboriginal Peoples in Winnipeg, Canada”, Aboriginal Policy Studies, pp. 3-27.

OECD (2017), National Urban Policy in OECD Countries, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264271906-en.

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Statistics Canada (2016), 2016 Census of Population. Canada and census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data, data extracted by Employment and Skills Development Canada, received 11 April 2018.

Statistics Canada (2017a), Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/171025/dq171025a-eng.htm.

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