Ministerial Question Period: Indigenous-related Training

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: Welcome, Minister Wilkinson. Last October, the CBC reported that few federal public servants are taking part in the Indigenous-related training offered by the Canada School of Public Service, or CSPS. Given their key role in the design, implementation and maintenance of laws, policies and other measures that may adversely impact Indigenous people, those findings are alarming.

Could you please confirm whether you support issuing a directive to make Indigenous-related training mandatory for employees at Natural Resources Canada and all other federal departments and agencies?

Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources: I certainly agree with you that the training you mentioned is extremely important. I am more than happy to come back to you with how Natural Resources Canada is performing relative to other departments, if that would be of interest.

Natural Resources Canada has been a leader with respect to many issues. In fact, the portion of the department that used to be called the Major Projects branch is actually now named Nòkwewashk, which is an Anishinaabe word, and is really more about partnership. We have worked hard to ensure that we are thinking about this in a completely different way.

One area we are looking at is how we can ensure, on a go-forward basis, that Indigenous communities benefit not just in terms of six jobs and three procurement contracts but in a long-term, sustained way from projects that take place in their traditional territories. We also want to ensure they have a voice in terms of how these projects are undertaken.

So I am very supportive of the work you mentioned. Typically, though, directives to staff within the departments fall within the purview of the deputy minister, who is responsible for the employees. But each and every day, I am and my deputy minister is encouraging the department to do better on those issues. I would be very surprised if we were not one of the best departments in the system.

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