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University of Winnipeg 'Steps Up'

Bill Gallagher, commentary for First Nations Voice Strategist-lawyer-author: Resource Rulers: Fortune and Folly on Canada?s Road to Resources

It was one headline-making event after the other as the new Prime Minister made it clear to all Canadians that he was intent on prioritizing the native file for a host of reasons - so let's start with the front page headlines as they amplify the story:

Nov 28 G&M - Climate policy helps path to pipelines: Carr
Dec 05 G&M - Throne Speech signals 'real change'
Dec 09 NP - Trudeau vows 'total renewal' of ties with First Nations
Dec 16 G&M - PM promises blueprint for reconciliation, while heeding calls to action
Dec 19 NP - Liberals halt First Nations sanctions
Dec 21 NP - Big plan on campus: 'Indigenization' courses

What an amazing climax to the rise of native empowerment. From Paris to Parliament to the Assembly of First Nations to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to Vancouver; every step of the way prioritized the Crown-Native relationship in a manner that Canadians had never witnessed before in our history. For example, here's how the Prime Minister responded in Vancouver when asked about his opposition to Northern Gateway:

"Public trust (in the regulatory process) is no longer assured and on this project it simply wasn't there. There needs to be social license with communities and partnering with First Nations. Projects have to be in the best interests of Canadians and future generations. The Great Bear Rainforest is no place for an oil pipeline, which was and continues to be my stated position. Social license is simply not available. That is why all the steps (that my government has just taken) on climate change, renewables, environmental stewardship, all fold into this equation."

Clearly, this is where natives fit in as resource rulers, because this Prime Minister implicitly understands the remarkable rise of native empowerment in the resources sector. Natives are the determinative factor as to whether projects can earn social license on the road to resources; backed up by the biggest winning streak in Canadian legal history, now approaching the 225 mark.

Which is why the University of Winnipeg stands out as a national leader with a plan to show the way forward under the direction of Wab Kinew, VP Indigenous Affairs: 

"Whether or not you have indigenous blood, if you're here in Canada, some part of your identity has been formed by indigenous culture and people. Yet it hasn't always been included or celebrated".

This quote by itself is an excellent definition of 'reconciliation'; making the main headline 'Big plan on campus' as important as all the other headlines that together signal a refreshing tone and change of course under the new Liberal government.

Because if we have any hope of bringing on mines, hydropower, transmission lines, forestry and pipelines; then we as a country need to become properly educated along the lines of what the University of Winnipeg is setting out to accomplish with its Indigenization Program. It's an important and essential development.

Moreover, it's something to 'celebrate'!

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