Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future

The Legacy of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

Katherine Graham (Editor), David Newhouse (Editor)


Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future looks to both the past and the future as it examines the foundational work of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the legacy of its 1996 report. It assesses the Commission’s influence on subsequent milestones in Indigenous-Canada relations and considers our prospects for a constructive future.

RCAP’s five-year examination of the relationships of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples to Canada and to non-Indigenous Canadians resulted in a new vision for Canada and provided 440 specific recommendations, many of which informed the subsequent work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). Considered too radical and difficult to implement, RCAP’s recommendations were largely ignored, but the TRC reiterates that longstanding inequalities and imbalances in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples remain and quite literally calls us to action.

With reflections on RCAP’s legacy by its co-chairs, leaders of national Indigenous organizations and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and leading academics and activists, this collection refocuses our attention on the groundbreaking work already performed by RCAP. Organized thematically, it explores avenues by which we may establish a new relationship, build healthy and powerful communities, engage citizens, and move to action.


"Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future provides a critical assessment of the limited progress made in implementing RCAP’s recommendations and consideration of the actions needed to move forward with the TRC’s Calls for Action – that might be a second chance to truly decolonize the situation of Indigenous peoples with homelands in the Canadian territory."

Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

"In the current political landscape Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future is an important and necessary work that brings a wealth of scholarship into conversation with post RCAP and TRC realities. By centering the vision of RCAP and asserting decolonial pathways toward Indigenous sovereignty, it will trouble the notion of reconciliation and what that really means in a settler colonial state."

Jennifer Brant, Assistant Professor Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, University of Toronto

"Sharing the Land makes use of a range of different modes of writing that includes addresses, critical scholarly articles, and a speculative thinkpiece. Among its authors are scholars and political figures and activists, including the RCAP co-chairs. Because of this diversity of perspectives, its conclusions are almost necessarily [...] ambiguous. The best we might be able to say is that RCAP’s legacies are controversial and multiple."

Andrew Nurse, BC Studies

"This book is an indictment of settler society and governments in Canada. [Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future] will be important for everyone working in Indigenous-settler relations."

Don Schweitzer, University of Toronto Quarterly

About the Authors

Katherine A.H. Graham has been an active scholar on Indigenous and Northern issues for over four decades. She served in several senior research and policy roles with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

David Newhouse is Professor of Indigenous Studies and Director of the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University. He was a member of the policy team on economics for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

Other contributors: Marlene Brant Castellano, Frederic Wien, Frances Abele, Erin Alexiuk, Satsan (Herb George), Catherine MacQuarrie, Yvonne Boyer, Josée Lavoie, Derek Kornelson, Jeff Reading, René Dussault, Georges Erasmus, Perry Bellegarde, Natan Obed, Clément Chartier, Robert Bertrand, Carolyn Bennett, Francyne Joe, Jo-ann Archibald (Q’um Q’um Xiiem) Jan Hare, Jennifer S. Dockstator, Jeff S. Denis, Gérard Duhaime, Mark S. Dockstator, Wanda Wuttunee, Charlotte Loppie, John Loxley, Warren Weir, Caroline L. Tait, Devon Napope, Amy Bombay, William Mussell, Carrie Bourassa, Eric Oleson, Sibyl Diver, Janet McElhaney, Cindy Blackstock, Jonathan Dewar, Lynne Davis, Chris Hiller, Aaron Franks, Daniel Salée, Carole Lévesque, Michael Adams

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Completing Confederation: The Necessary Foundation
Chapter 2: Twenty Years Later: The RCAP Legacy in Indigenous Health System Governance—What about the Next Twenty?
Chapter 3: Address by René Dussault, Co-Chair, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Chapter 4: Video Address by Georges Erasmus, Co-Chair, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Chapter 5: Address by Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
Chapter 6: Address by Natan Obed, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Chapter 7: Address by Clément Chartier, President, Metis National Council
Chapter 8: Address by Robert Bertrand, National Chief, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Chapter 9: Address by Francyne Joe, President, Native Women’s Association of Canada
Chapter 10: Address by Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Chapter 11: Thunderbird Is Rising: Indigenizing Education in Canada
Chapter 12: Insights into Community Development in First Nations: A Poverty Action Research
Chapter 13: Indigenous Economic Development with Tenacity
Chapter 14: Powerful Communities, Healthy Communities: A Twenty-Five Year Journey of Healing and Wellness
Chapter 15: Cultural Safety
Chapter 16: What Will It Take? Ending the Canadian Government’s Chronic Failure to Do Better for First Nations Children and Families
Chapter 17: The Art of Healing and Reconciliation: From Time Immemorial through RCAP, the TRC, and Beyond
Chapter 18: Engaging Citizens in Indigenous-Non-Indigenous Relations
Chapter 19: SSHRC and the Conscientious Community: Reflecting and Acting on Indigenous Research and Reconciliation in Response to CTA
Chapter 20: Canada’s Aboriginal Policy and the Politics of Ambivalence: A Policy Tools Perspective
Chapter 21: Executive Summary, Canadian Public Opinion on Aboriginal Peoples
Conclusion: What’s the Way Forward?