While the national media often focuses on aboriginal protests, portraying a picture of conflict between Indigenous peoples at odds with modern society, underneath a quieter, more transformative change is taking place across Canada and internationally. Globally, Indigenous communities are reasserting their identity as a people and their collective ability to determine their own futures. In doing so, they are finding new ways in which they can govern themselves while being part of society, not apart. Like other governments, they are concerned with how to best provide for their citizens, which requires interacting with the modern economy. In order to do so effectively, they need to rebuild effective governance institutions that also integrate traditional governance arrangements and practices with modern institutions The proposed International Research Roundtable directly addresses this challenge by asking: how are Indigenous peoples integrating their traditional values into effective governance systems for land stewardship and economic development?
This research Roundtable will include perspectives from four countries - Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand - that share a history of European settler colonialism. In the present, they also share Aboriginal leadership in common law jurisprudence and self-government with a continuum of government-to-government initiatives. We have invited Aboriginal leaders, community members and leading scholars to share their views as each country offers different examples of emerging Indigenous governance in distinct national contexts. It is important that academics, policy makers, Aboriginal leaders and community members come together to identify what methods of self-governance have been successful in helping Indigenous people’s determine what they want to accomplish and how to get there. There is an additional benefit from drawing on the experience of participants from four different countries, to understand how external environments and different political settings can influence the opportunities facing Indigenous nations and the type of governance systems they adopt.
A principal goal of this Roundtable is to identify what community and economic development strategies in modern day circumstances have been successful while respecting traditional values and decision-making. The benefit of drawing together experts and leaders to discuss this point is that it draws on years of practical experience these individuals have in creating a Nation’s vision, developing policies and implementing constitutional and statutory laws. While these Nations have already developed political and organizational structures that are currently in practice, there remains an ongoing struggle to incorporate traditional systems of governance such as hereditary rights, clan families, and social justice community members and elders council into decision-making around these development strategies and associated issues. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges facing modern society today is how to create more economic prosperity but not at the expense of the environment, and there are larger lessons to be learned from examples of how the Indigenous peoples in their respective territories are successfully balancing development while sustaining their environment.
Background of Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies International Roundtable
The International Research Roundtable program was created to offer opportunities for UBC and international scholars to explore big ideas, and examine pressing social, health, economic or other research questions, creating the foundation for new and innovative research. The program fosters both basic and applied research, and has been designed to ensure that the roundtables are catalytic in the development of new knowledge and potential solutions to important problems. The International Research Roundtables have brought together leading scholars, policy makers, scientists and artists from across the globe to develop serious research plans to address specific problems that require interdisciplinary thinking. They have captured the public’s imagination through lectures and performances that convey the importance of the research, and have set scholars and graduate students on new trajectories in their research.