May 26 2023
The Senior Common Room met today at 10: am to discuss the Canadian Indigenous question.
We had 14 attendees.
The topic for discussion was the Indian Act. The topic was introduced and lead by Doug Gilpin.
As usual, the level of discussion was great with comments from every participant, including those steeped in experience with historical i, educational, racial, medical,legal, cultural, etc. aspects.
Attached is a message from Doug Gilpin reporting to participants following the session:
To the participants in today’s SCR.
I thought that the meeting was excellent, and one could actually detect a path forward for enhancing the lives of the Indigenous communities. Certainly, education is a key factor in this path, and as Paul Taylor and others pointed out, full support of each of leaders in each individual community would be crucial for success. It's a huge undertaking.
I don't know much about Indigenous culture, but I do know something about implementing change and management of change, primarily in corporate cultures but some basics still should apply. It isn't easy and rapid. My experience has been that success requires at least the following ingredients:
1. A clear statement of the results expected. These may be different, if only for timing, and developed for each community.
2. Clear accountability and ownership of results.
3. Full support of the community leadership, with their continual participation and assistance in problem-solving. As pointed out, this could be the hard part, requiring great skills on the part of the accountable implementing manager and resources. Without this support, success would be impossible. As Lloyd and Paul highlighted, however, most Indigenous leaders want life to be better for their communities.
5. Provision of skilled people, as well as physical and technical resources, probably designed for each community. Special training will likely be necessary, supported by people with appropriate cultural heritage.
6. Overall accountability and regular review of results, pinpointing successes, progress, and weak spots in the change management process. Honesty and attention to detail matter.
Patience and sensitivity are important. I have found that, inevitably, with change of any magnitude, someone will be hurt. Not everyone is good at handling difficult issues and situations as the arise, and such situations will be normal.
The above sounds a bit like a classic corporate management process, and it is, with a difference. One can't just parachute in a team and force change; and fire people who disagree. Consultation, respect and honesty are important.
I don't know if I'm adding much with these thoughts, but it seemed to me that I've seen mismanagement of basic processes at various levels of government, and that it could be worthwhile to document a few basics.
Our discussions today expressed our collective concern; this is important.
Thanks to all,