School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Photo of Bob Watts
​Bob Watts

Adjunct Professor 

 

 

Bob Watts has been involved in many major Indigenous issues in Canada over the past 20 years and led the process, with support from across Canada and internationally, to establish Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is examining and will make recommendations regarding the Indian Residential School era and its legacy. He was Interim Executive Director of the Commission and was a member of the team, which negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

His current activities include working with Mediate BC to recommend ways for Aboriginal communities to respond to changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act and working on the Siting Process with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. He is an adjunct professor and fellow in the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, and a frequent speaker on Aboriginal issues.

Mr. Watts is also a former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations, served as the Chief of Staff to the Assembly of First Nations‘ National Chief Phil Fontaine, and is a former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Government of Canada. He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and fellow at the Harvard Law School. Mr. Watts is from Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry and is a member of the Six Nations Reserve.


Indigenous Policy and Governance (IPG) Faculty Profile:

Photo of Bob Watts
​Bob Watts

Adjunct Professor 

 

When Bob Watts is asked to serve on a national committee, board or panel related to Indigenous rights in Canada – which happens frequently – one of his stipulations is that he have the flexibility to continue teaching in the Indigenous Policy and Governance stream of Queen’s Professional Master of Policy Administration (PMPA) program.                                                                                                                                                                                         

“This is something that I really enjoy and I think is important to do,” says Mr. Watts, a former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations, who helped negotiate the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement when he was interim Executive Director of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “Students in this program come from an interesting mix of backgrounds, some bringing unique experience from the public service sector and others immersed in the academic stream, but wanting to know, ‘What’s going on out there?’” he adds.

Having worked at senior levels of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous government in Canada, Mr. Watts, an Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies, is well-versed to answer that question. Along with academic rigour in terms of course content, he says that he tries to inject real-life experience – both his own and that of other colleagues – into his teaching.

 “This gives learners the opportunity to engage firsthand with folks who are in the field, and to think through how it could apply to their careers. They can take something that might be a really nice academic paper and manifest that in terms of partnerships, policies and programs.”

Role play is a key element of Bob’s courses, as well. Students have a chance to get hands-on experience rather than just thinking about situations in the abstract, he says. “They can take what they’ve learned and apply it in a safe environment.”

While obtaining his Master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Mr. Watts was able to work with a U.S. Senator in helping to get a bill passed. He remembers this practicum as a highlight of his learning experience there and considers his current role at Queen’s somewhat as coming full circle.

Since many participants in the PMPA IPG program already hold key policy roles in Indigenous community organizations or other government agencies, Mr. Watts often meets former students in a professional capacity after they graduate. Being able to work with them – and from time to time hiring people who have been in his class – is always thrilling, he says.

Of his strong attachment to teaching in this program, Mr. Watts points out that Queen’s was one of the first universities to have a graduate level course on reconciliation – “long before the TRC did their final report,” he notes.  “I think that’s significant, and a credit to the university.”