Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

A path forward for reconciliation

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with the Queen’s community about the future of Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Canada.

Canada’s first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General has added her voice to the illustrious line of national figures who have given lectures in the Tom Courchene Distinguished Speaker Series hosted by the Queen’s School of Policy Studies (SPS). The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould (Puglaas), who is also Canada’s first elected female Independent Member of Parliament, spoke to the Queen’s community and attendees from across the country in a virtual event on May 19.

A longtime advocate for Indigenous rights, Wilson-Raybould focused her talk on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Government of Canada’s proposed legislation to implement the declaration into federal law. While she sees this as a first step, Wilson-Raybould argues much more needs to be done to work towards true reconciliation in Canada.

“Adopting the UNDRIP standards alone without clear mechanisms, processes, and structures for operationalizing them – and without nations leading the way based on self-determination and doing the hard work of nation and government rebuilding – will not provide the answers to our current challenges,” said Wilson-Raybould in her lecture.

Among many obstacles to true reconciliation in Canada, Wilson-Raybould identifies insufficient political will and the legacy of colonialism. At the same time, she sees growing awareness of Indigenous issues in the country and an increasing desire of non-Indigenous Canadians to serve as allies.

“Let me be clear: I am positive. I remain positive,” said Wilson-Raybould. “Nations are doing the hard work in new ways, with innovation. Canadians are adding more of their voices to this important work every day, with a greater understanding amongst more people about what must be done. The ten principles remain on the books. The UNDRIP legislation, while not perfect, is a starting point and a step forward. For the long overdue and urgent change that is needed, we need people to stick their necks out. But not just leaders. All of us, everywhere. We all have a role to play.”

Warren Mabee, Director of SPS, was on hand to introduce Wilson-Raybould and moderate the event, which included a Q&A session with online participants after the lecture.

“The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould is one of the country’s most powerful voices on Indigenous rights and she gave a thought-provoking lecture that I encourage anyone who did not attend the virtual event to view when they have time,” says Mabee.

Watch the full lecture on the SPS YouTube channel.

The Tom Courchene Distinguished Speaker Series

The Margie and Tom Courchene Endowment Fund was established to create a permanent speaker series in SPS, to be known subsequently as the Tom Courchene Distinguished Speaker Series. The series aims to serve as a bridge between the academic and professional policy communities and to engage faculty, students, policymakers, politicians, and other opinion leaders in discussion on major policy issues.

Past speakers in the series have included former Prime Minister The Right Honourable Paul Martin and The Honourable Murray Sinclair, who will become the 15th Chancellor of Queen’s on July 1.

Learn more about the Tom Courchene Distinguished Speaker Series on the SPS website.