1. 5 mins Water Reconciliation and the Encyclical (Oct. 22, 2016)

“Laudato si’ (Medieval Central Italian for “Praise be to you”) is the second encyclical of Pope Francis. The encyclical has the subtitle “On Care For Our Common Home”. In it, the Pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls all people of the world to take “swift and unified global action”.

Humans need water to live. In Canada some people have much less access to good water than others. The Church and academic institutions are bringing together Catholic students and indigenous students for a day to talk about drinking water on reserves. By focusing on a concrete problem like safe water, the broad issue of reconciliation, a more abstract concept, becomes real. It will be a busy day. Discussions on reconciliation, collaboration, clean water for First Nation reserves will challenge the participants as they experiment with the broad goal of finding a way towards reconciliation. What we clearly know, beyond a shadow of doubt, is the status quo has failed us all, and is not an option. The Catholic Church and these young folks are on to something – collaborating and working together, uncommon partners to an end that is long overdue and that benefits us all by creating a more just Canada.

2. 1 min Water Protectors (Oct. 23, 2016)

This article is brief but foreboding. The issue of indigenous treaty rights and the threats posed by pipelines is escalating in this region. Conciliation efforts are desperately needed. If a situation ever cried out for a specific resolution based on a commitment to reconciliation, this is it. Water is fundamental to life, and treaties are the foundation of what allowed the creation of Canada and the United States. These two fundamental truths require the attention of skilled negotiators to find a feasible path forward.

3. 5 min Voting for Reconciliation in Yukon (Oct. 21, 2016)

Election day is fast approaching in Yukon. The relationship between the public government and the Indigenous governments has taken on a greater importance with the election of the Federal Liberals a year ago. Can the Yukon Party, in power for the last 12 years win re-election, in spite of a fractious, litigious relationship with Indigenous governments, environmental groups and the public? Reconciliation, self-government, land claims, the carbon tax, the Peel Watershed planning battle…all are issues of critical importance in Yukon. What they share with all regions in Canada is whether there is a commitment to working with Indigenous governments using a collaborative approach, rather than the litigious, adversarial approach so common in the past. So as Yukoners vote they should be looking to which ever party best represents their interests and reflects their values when it comes to issues like reconciliation and collaboration with Indigenous governments and people.

4. 1 min Fibreoptic Opportunities (Oct. 25, 2016)

Indigenous communities that have had substandard technologies for too long can pass over the typical technological progression and move directly through to advanced capabilities such as fibre optic technology, as this article explains. We call this “leapfrogging” and all that is needed is creativity to figure out how leapfrogging can build many positive opportunities for communities. While the current initiative in this article is about extending fibreoptic to band offices, it should be extended to community members homes also. What businesses are possible if an indigenous nations – and their members – now have access to fibre optic capability? Which entrepreneurs can be supported in related business opportunities given the education, health and technology doors that are opened? Maybe a community member could become an Internet service provider? All that is required is the vision to invest. This is an exciting opportunity for these Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation governments.

5. 3 min Nation-to-Nation Diplomacy Needed (Oct. 25, 2016)

Further to our article comment last week, again, we see evidence of escalating tensions over development that will impact Indigenous (and, by the way, non-Indigenous also) lands and waters. Sadly, we see the influence of law and order thinking, which while appropriate and justified if public safety is at issue, will not really address the problem. What is needed is a nation-to-nation approach. When one nation has concerns about the actions of another nation, the response is usually a high-level diplomatic one meant to demonstrate that the relationship between the nations matters (regardless of whether the nations agree at first instance on the matter at hand). Nations seek amicable relationships based on fair and just agreements where no party unduly bears the brunt of any harm. The Muskrat Falls did this (the Premier met and reached resolution with the Indigenous peoples) and the folks in North Dakota should really consider a similar high level diplomatic outreach (on all sides).