Well, we are all continuing to decompress from the “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy” forum (2010) at Mount Royal University (held a few weeks ago now!).  Contrary to the insinuations that additional security would be needed, everyone acted in a very collegial (although sometimes passionate) manner.  Important lessons were learned about the benefits of public debate.  Censorship and professed “offence” will not help us to understand and address complex and difficult policy problems.  A number of faculty members from Mount Royal University chose to boycott the forum, but many others stated that, while they disagreed with many of the opinions that were expressed, censorship was an unacceptable response in an academic environment.  I even witnessed Gary McHale and Wes Elliott having a long and polite conversation with one another in the Faculty Centre. 

Mount Royal University should be commended for standing up to the intimidation, and allowing such an historic exchange to take place.  Once again, the Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Robin Fisher, the Dean and Associate Dean of Arts (Manuel Mertin and Sabrina Reed), and the Department of Policy Studies (especially the Chair, Bruce Foster) have shown themselves to be leaders in supporting academic freedom and critical inquiry.  The other sponsor of the forum, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, should also be thanked for providing partial funding for the event.

Over the following days, additional materials will be posted on the “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums” page on this blog.  I have already posted my opening remarks – “The Kindly Inquisition Influencing Aboriginal Policy Formulation”.  It is hoped that these additional materials will further stimulate debate on aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations.  I am already starting to think about next year’s forum – to be held in the first two weeks of May 2011 (it is still not clear when the best time is for the event).  It is hoped that with the additional contacts that I am making that next year we can begin to have more of an organized exchange on three questions concerning native economic development, aboriginal governance and “indigenous knowledge”/education/research.  It is also hoped that, on each panel, there will be two speakers directly supporting or opposing a question concerning a particular aspect of aboriginal policy, much like the Intelligence² debates on the BBC.

The keynote speaker, Don Sandberg, gave a very interesting overview of his thoughts on “The State of First Nations in Canada Today”.  In this presentation, Mr. Sandberg focussed on a number of the most significant challenges facing aboriginal peoples, especially in the areas of governance, economic development and education.  I was also interested in Sandberg’s comments about some of the problems concerning “traditional medicine”; in his presentation, Sandberg noted that some people in an aboriginal community were afraid that “bad medicine” was being thrown at them, causing them a great deal of  stress and unhappiness. 

The first panel, “Private Property and Native Economic Development”, featured a spirited exchange between Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary) and Albert Howard (Independent Researcher) about whether private homeownership could improve economic conditions in aboriginal communities (Flanagan stated that he disagreed with practically everything that Howard said, except for Howard’s comments about rentierism).  Albert Howard’s presentation will be posted on this site soon, and it is an encouraging development that Flanagan’s ideas are now being subjected to critical analysis, rather than being dismissed as “offensive”.  Joseph Quesnel also provided an interesting commentary on how the unviability of reserves could be addressed.

The second panel, “Aboriginal Sovereignty, Indigenous Nationalism, and the Rule of Law”, had presentations from Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina), Gary McHale (CANACE), Mark Vandermaas (Caledonia Victims Project), and Wes Elliott (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory).  It was unfortunate that Bourgeault’s work, which is very significant and underutilized in academe, was upstaged by the arguments concerning the Caledonia dispute.  Wes Elliott provided a diagram of his vision for achieving reconciliation in Caldedonia.  McHale and Vandermaas’ presentations contain too much memory to be posted on this site, but they can be accessed on the “Caledonia Victims Project”  website - http://caledoniavictimsproject.wordpress.com/   There is also a video recording of McHale and Vandermaas’ presentation on this site for those who are interested..

The third panel, “Traditional Cultural Revitalization and Aboriginal Education”, had presentations by Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher) on Australian education policy, Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta) on bilingual education in Nunavut, and an exchange between David Newhouse (Trent University) and myself on “indigenous knowledge”.  I will be posting PowerPoint slides and the written comments for my presentation in the next week or so on the “New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums” page of this website.  It is also hoped that David Newhouse will submit his slides.  In my opinion, the exchange between Dr. Newhouse and myself was the most cordial and intellectual that I have ever seen with respect to this subject.

Although it is a very busy time of year because of the upcoming Congress, I will do my best to post these materials in a timely manner.  I also want to put out a call for presenters for May 2011.  An aboriginal member of the audience made the comment that she felt the panels were “stacked” in favour of the integrationist/assimilationist position.  I informed her that I had tried for months to obtain representation from people who would sit at the same table and challenge the views of Flanagan, Howard, McHale & Vandermaas, and myself, but was told that they did not want to be a part of such an event (fortunately, Wes Elliott called me and stated that he wanted to debate McHale and Vandermaas – an encouraging development).  Funds are limited, but we usually have enough for two or three speakers (depending upon where they live).

Please note:

With respect to Wes Elliott, a mistake has been made.  He is not a negotiator, but is on the negotiating team.  I apologize for the error.

FW 

***

The final program for the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy forum at Mount Royal University on May 5, 2010 has just been completed.  It is posted on the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums page and is cut and pasted below.  The posted program now contains the abstract for the presentation of Wes Elliott  (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) – “Allies of the Crown: Honouring the Treaties is the Formula for Peace”.  The abstract states that

“The Great Law of Peace contains the principles which the Creator gave to the Houdensaunee people to live in harmony with one another and the land. This foundation formed the oldest confederacy of nations in the world. It is our Constitution. When European contact came, two wampum belts or treaties, were agreed upon: the Two Row and the Silver Covenant Chain. They became the Law of the Land. Today they are still the Law of the Land. They govern the conduct between our nations. They supercede any laws created for so called justice.

In Caledonia, both treaties have been violated. In Brantford, both treaties have been violated. In negotiations, both have been violated.  We have never been conquered. We are the only native nations in Canada that are allies to the Crown. We have our own language, culture and history, but most of all, we uphold our part of the Treaties. The basic understanding of these treaties, the honouring of them, then abiding by them, is the formula for peace”.

We are very pleased that Mr. Elliott has agreed to make this presentation and to critically engage the position of Mark Vandermaas and Gary McHale.  Once again, the forum does not endorse either position; its only goal is to present diverse points of view.  Although many will not agree with the arguments presented, Mount Royal University is a strong supporter of academic freedom and critical inquiry.  It is by being exposed to challenging points of view, in fact, that enables all people to develop intellectually.

***

New Directions in Aboriginal Policy

Free Public Forum at Mount Royal University

Nickle Theatre (Main Building, West Gate)

Calgary, Alberta, May 5, 2010

Sponsored by:

Mount Royal University’s Department of Policy Studies,

Arts Scholarly Events Committee, Office of Provost and Vice-President, Academic,

and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

8:30-9:00              Coffee

9:00-9:20              Opening Remarks

Sabrina Reed (Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts, Mount Royal University) – Welcome

Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University) – The Kindly Inquisition Influencing Aboriginal Policy Formulation

9:20-10:00            Keynote Address

Don Sandberg (Frontier Centre for Public Policy) – The State of First Nations in Canada Today

10:00-10:15         Coffee

10:15-12:00         Panel I – Private Property and Native Economic Development (Chair: Kari Roberts)

Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary) – Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights

Albert Howard (Independent Researcher) – Field of Dreams: “Building” Aboriginal Economies with Property Ownership

Glenn North Peigan (University of Lethbridge) – The Treaties, Economic Development Funding and Aboriginal Dependency

Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre For Public Policy) – The Politics of Cutting Your Losses: Non-viable Reserves and Aboriginal Economic Development 

12:00-1:00            Lunch Break

1:00-2:45              Panel II – Aboriginal Sovereignty, Indigenous Nationalism, and the Rule of Law (Chair: Miriam Carey)

Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina) – The Aboriginal National Question: Colonialism, Self-Determination and the New Right

Wes Elliott (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) – Allies of the Crown: Honouring the Treaties is the Formula for Peace

Gary McHale (CANACE) – The Face of Aboriginal Sovereignty Versus the Rule of Law in Caledonia

Mark Vandermaas (Caledonia Victims Project) – Listening to Victims: A Fresh Approach to Reconciliation and Healing

2:45-3:00              Coffee

3:00-5:00              Panel III – Traditional Cultural Revitalization and Aboriginal Education (Chair: Jennifer Pettit)

Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta) – Bilingual Education in Nunavut: Trojan Horse or Paper Tiger?

Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher, Australia) – Aboriginal Educational Successes in Australia: Mass Tertiary Education and the Development of an Indigenous Academic Class

David Newhouse (Trent University) – Canada Meets the Good Mind

Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University) – The Good Mind and Critical Thinking: Exploring the Implications of “Indigenous Knowledge” Meeting the Academy

5:00-8:00              Reception (Faculty Centre)

The final version of the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum program is now available on the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums page on this blog (it is also cut and pasted below).  Work that has been undertaken by the various presenters also has been posted on that page.  One new development is that there has been an agreement between David Newhouse and myself to hold an exchange on incorporating “indigenous knowledge” into the academy in Panel III (“Traditional Cultural Revitalization and Aboriginal Education”).  This exchange will concern Newhouse’s article “Ganigonhi:oh: The Good Mind Meets the Academy”, Canadian Journal of Native Education, 31(1), 2008, pp. 184-197.  Another addition is Glenn North Peigan, who, along with Albert Howard, will be responding to Tom Flanagan’s views on aboriginal property rights.

FW

***

New Directions in Aboriginal Policy 

Free Public Forum at Mount Royal University

Nickle Theatre (Main Building, West Gate)

Calgary, Alberta, May 5, 2010

Sponsored by:

Mount Royal University’s Department of Policy Studies,

Faculty of Arts Scholarly Events Committee,

and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

8:30-9:00              Coffee

9:00-9:20              Opening Remarks

 Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University) – The Kindly Inquisition Influencing Aboriginal Policy Formulation

 9:20-10:00            Keynote Address

 Don Sandberg (Frontier Centre for Public Policy) – The State of First Nations in Canada Today

 10:00-10:15         Coffee

 10:15-12:00         Panel I – Private Property and Native Economic Development (Chair: Kari Roberts)

 Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary) – Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights

Albert Howard (Independent Researcher) – Field of Dreams: “Building” Aboriginal Economies with Property Ownership

Glenn North Peigan (University of Lethbridge) – The Treaties, Economic Development Funding and Aboriginal Dependency

Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre For Public Policy) – The Politics of Cutting Your Losses: Non-viable Reserves and Aboriginal Economic Development

12:00-1:00            Lunch Break

1:00-2:45              Panel II – Aboriginal Sovereignty, Indigenous Nationalism, and the Rule of Law (Chair: Miriam Carey)

Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina) – The Aboriginal National Question: Colonialism, Self-Determination and the New Right

Gary McHale (CANACE) – The Face of Aboriginal Sovereignty Versus the Rule of Law in Caledonia

Mark Vandermaas (Caledonia Victims Project) – Listening to Victims: A Fresh Approach to Reconciliation and Healing 

2:45-3:00              Coffee

3:00-5:00              Panel III – Traditional Cultural Revitalization and Aboriginal Education (Chair: Jennifer Pettit)

Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta) – Bilingual Education in Nunavut: Trojan Horse or Paper Tiger?

Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher, Australia) – Aboriginal Educational Successes in Australia: Mass Tertiary Education and the Development of an Indigenous Academic Class

David Newhouse (Trent University) – Canada Meets the Good Mind

Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University) – The Good Mind and Critical Thinking: Exploring the Implications of “Indigenous Knowledge” Meeting the Academy

5:00-8:00              Reception (Faculty Centre)

The draft program for the forum is available on the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums page.   This program will likely change a little after additional information is received.  It is hoped that this program will be completed by the end of next week.  I am still attempting to find additional aboriginal academics and activists to present perspectives on aboriginal sovereignty and indigenous “ways of knowing”.  The hope is to have as wide a range of viewpoints as is possible presented at the forum.

FW

***

New Directions in Aboriginal Policy

Free Public Forum at Mount Royal University

Nickle Theatre (Main Building, West Gate)

Calgary, Alberta, May 5, 2010

Sponsored by:

Mount Royal University’s Department of Policy Studies,

Faculty of Arts Scholarly Events Committee,

and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

8:30-9:00              Coffee

9:00-9:20              Opening Remarks

Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University) – The Kindly Inquisition Influencing Aboriginal Policy Formulation

9:20-10:00            Keynote Address

 Don Sandberg (Frontier Centre for Public Policy) – The State of First Nations in Canada Today

10:00-10:15         Coffee

10:15-12:00         Panel I – Private property and native economic development

Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary) – Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights

Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre For Public Policy) – The Politics of Cutting your Losses: Non-viable Reserves and Aboriginal Economic Development

Albert Howard (Independent Researcher, Canada) – Field of Dreams: “Building” Aboriginal Economies

12:00-1:00            Lunch Break

1:00-3:00              Panel II – Aboriginal sovereignty, indigenous nationalism, and the rule of law 

Gary McHale (CANACE) and Mark Vandermaas (Caledonia Victims Project) – TBA

Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina) – TBA 

3:00-3:15              Coffee Break 

3:15-5:00              Panel III – Indigenous “ways of knowing”, critical thinking and education

Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta) – Bilingual Education in Nunavut: Trojan Horse or Paper Tiger?

Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher, Australia) – Indigenous Education in Australia: Standard Tertiary Programs and the Development of an Indigenous Academic Class

David Newhouse (Trent University) – TBA

5:00-8:00              Reception (Faculty Centre)

Things are beginning to firm up for the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum at Mount Royal University.  The forum is free and open to the public and is intended to stimulate public debate on aboriginal policy.  People with very different perspectives on aboriginal economic development, governance and education have been invited because it is assumed that bringing together opposing viewpoints enables all people to move closer to the truth.  The tentative program and confirmed participants are cut and pasted below.  I am still hoping to find more people who can present arguments supporting aboriginal sovereignty and indigenous “ways of knowing”.

FW

***

New Directions in Aboriginal Policy, Free Public Forum in the Nickle Theatre, Mount Royal University, May 5, 2010

8:30-9:00, Coffee

9:00-9:30, Opening remarks – The kindly inquisition influencing aboriginal policy development

9:30-11:30, Panel I – Aboriginal sovereignty, indigenous nationalism, and the rule of law

11:30-1:00, Lunch break

1:00-2:45, Panel II – Private property rights, the Indian Act, and economic development

2:45-3:00, Coffee Break

3:00-4:45, Panel III – Indigenous “ways of knowing”, critical thinking and education

5:00-8:00, Reception

Confirmed participants (in alphabetical order)

Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina), Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary), Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta), Albert Howard (Independent Researcher, Calgary), Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher, Australia), Gary McHale (CANACE), David Newhouse (Trent University), Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre for Public Policy), Don Sandberg (Frontier Centre for Public Policy), Mark Vandermaas (CANACE), Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University)

With the amazing success of the 2009 New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum held at Mount Royal College (now Mount Royal University), interest was expressed in making the event an annual affair.  Therefore, I am pleased to announce the tentative date of next year’s New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum – May 5, 2010.  It is hoped that Mount Royal University will be able to host this event each year at the beginning of May.

The purpose of these forums is to stimulate open and honest debate about aboriginal policy.  Effort is being made to bring in a wide variety of perspectives for the benefit of students, faculty, and interested members of the public.  It is hoped that the free exchange of ideas in a collegial environment will help to reduce the ideological policing that has plagued discussions of aboriginal policy for so long.

Although the funding arrangements are still being worked out, a number of researchers and scholars have expressed interest in participating in the forum.  In addition to myself and Albert Howard, other potential participants include Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary), Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre for Public Policy), Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina), and Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta).   There is also hope (funding permitting) of bringing in researchers and scholars from Australia and New Zealand to discuss aboriginal policy developments in these countries.

Those interested in this forum should keep an eye on the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums page on this blog.  This page will make the draft program available, as well as work from the scholars and researchers presenting at the forum.  The page also will keep a record of information from past forums.

The 2010 New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forum is already promising to be a very interesting event.  Tom Flanagan will likely be discussing the ideas in his forthcoming book, written with Christopher Alcantara and André Le Dressay, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights (see the New Directions in Aboriginal Policy Forums page for a description)As readers of Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry will know, Albert Howard and I are very critical of arguments that propose property rights as a solution to aboriginal dependency and marginalization.  This viewpoint, however, has not been extensively debated in the academic community because it is easier for members of the Aboriginal Industry to dismiss Flanagan’s ideas than to subject them to critical analysis.

For more information on this forum, please feel free to contact me at fwiddowson@mtroyal.ca or 403-440-6884.

***

Program update – April 2010

New Directions in Aboriginal Policy, Free Public Forum in the Nickle Theatre, Mount Royal University, May 5, 2010

8:30-9:00, Coffee

9:00-9:20, Opening Remarks – The kindly inquisition influencing aboriginal policy development

9:20-10:00, Keynote Address – The State of First Nations in Canada Today 

10:00-12:00, Panel I – Private Property and Native Economic Development

12-1:00, Lunch break

1:00-2:45, Panel II – Aboriginal Sovereignty, Indigenous Nationalism, and the Rule of Law

2:45-3:00, Coffee Break

3:00-5:00, Panel III – Traditional Cultural Revitalization and Aboriginal Education

5:00-8:00, Reception

Confirmed participants (in alphabetical order)

Ron Bourgeault (University of Regina), Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary), Andrew Hodgkins (University of Alberta), Albert Howard (Independent Researcher, Calgary), Joseph Lane (Independent Researcher, Australia), Gary McHale (CANACE), David Newhouse (Trent University), Glenn North Peigan (University of Lethbridge), Joseph Quesnel (Frontier Centre for Public Policy), Don Sandberg (Frontier Centre for Public Policy), Mark Vandermaas (CANACE), Frances Widdowson (Mount Royal University)