Operating context

As part of the journey towards reconciliation, the Government of Canada has taken an important step to renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, by announcing a profound shift in the way the Government delivers services and advances self-determination and self-government of Indigenous peoples. In order to develop structures that are better aligned to support reconciliation, on August 28, 2017, the Prime Minister announced the intention to create 2 new departments:

A key step was the taken on November 30, 2017, with the creation of ISC, formalizing the creation of a new department that brings together essential and mutually reinforcing services: First Nations and Inuit health services (formerly with Health Canada), education services, essential social services, child and family services programs, and housing and infrastructure services (formerly with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada).

In 2020–21, ISC will focus, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, on the following interconnected priority areas: health, education, children and families, infrastructure, economic prosperity and a new fiscal relationship.

ISC has been mandated to create systemic change in how the federal government delivers services to Indigenous peoples and ultimately transfer the design, the planning, management and delivery of these services under to Indigenous control. This is to be achieved by promoting consistency and quality, improving accountability to Indigenous peoples, taking a distinctions-based approach in the delivery of services and developing partnership models.

In advancing in its mandate and modernization, ISC will have to build a culture of services and a supportive internal environment. This will be possible by engaging Indigenous partners in the ISC governance and by building the national and regional organizational structures that allow greater participation of Indigenous partners in departmental operations and create the foundations for the emergence of successful devolution models. It will also be sustained by promoting cultural safety and Indigenization of organizational practices, including an increased Indigenous representation in the workforce.

The Government of Canada recognizes that the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples has been built on colonial structures, which has contributed to the current unacceptable socio-economic gap. While day-to-day realities in Indigenous communities must continue to be addressed directly, there must also be a path to systematic change.

Following the establishment of the CIRNAC and ISC mandates, there is now an opportunity for the federal government to implement a new organizational culture — a new way of delivering services — developed in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners.

However, this is only the beginning. The full composition of ISC, including the possible inclusion of additional services, will be shaped in partnership with Indigenous peoples, recognizing the rights of Indigenous peoples and the distinctions between and among First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nations. The end goal is not only that the design, delivery and control of services — in all areas — are led by and for Indigenous peoples, but also that ISC will disappear over time.

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