CANADIANS FOR A NEW PARTNERSHIP CEASES FORMAL OPERATIONS

Ottawa, ON – Friday, December 1, 2017: Stephen Kakfwi, President and CEO, announced today that Canadians for a New Partnership (CFNP) would cease formal operations as of December 31, 2017.

CFNP was launched in September 2014, a time when intense conflict, tension, and despair characterized relations between Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Canada.

We invited Canadians to join with us by signing a Declaration which stated in part, “We must embrace the notion of partnership fully and place it at the very heart of our endeavours. Then, and only then, will we enjoy a foundation of trust sturdy enough to overcome the shame of historic harm and contemporary injustices and realize future possibility.” To date, more than 5,300 Canadians have signed the document, making public their commitment to change.

Our goals included: supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in its important work of bringing the tragic history of the residential school system and the courageous stories of Survivors to the public; persuading political leadership to address the urgent social and economic issues in Indigenous communities across the country; and undertaking education and dialogue efforts about these issues and the importance of building a new partnership between Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian public.

In the fall of 2015, the political environment changed dramatically with the election of a new federal government and the personal commitment of the Prime Minister that, “No relationship is more important to this government than that with the Indigenous Peoples.” Shortly after, the TRC released its Final Report, and with their Calls to Action made public earlier that June, they provided a blueprint for reconciliation for governments and civil society. These two events added enormous momentum to the decades‐long efforts to make a fundamental change in the relationship between Indigenous and non‐Indigenous Peoples.

From the beginning, it was decided that CFNP’s role was to assist and support the efforts of others and encourage networks rather than build a large programming effort. Board members reached out to thousands of Canadians through dozens of speeches, panels, and meetings with the message of making the building of a new partnership a national priority as well as encouraging federal, provincial, and territorial governments to implement the 94 Calls to Action. Because of the stature and collective experience of its members, CFNP has been called upon for support and advice by many organizations and individuals working on reconciliation efforts and initiatives.

Through three years CFNP operated on very slim resources and as a mostly volunteer operation with one paid staff. We are grateful to several foundations, individuals, banks, and Directors and Members for their generous donations and support. However, fundraising efforts, though vigorous and far-reaching, were ultimately unsuccessful to support major and sustained efforts and over the long run. We came to understand that our approach of supporting others’ efforts and encouraging networks rather than undertaking major programming ourselves was not an attractive proposition for funders keen for prominent recognition and to see their names attached to major events.

CFNP efforts were, of course, undertaken for the most part in the context of the remarkable work and roadmap for action that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided and the new government’s own historic and oft-quoted commitment to a new relationship and to implementing the Calls to Action and the UNDRIP. These events, and Canadian society’s reactions, have created a much greater momentum for change than we ever imagined possible when CFNP was launched amid much tension and conflict. For these reasons, the Board of Directors believes CFNP has run its course and has made the difficult decision to wrap up the organization at the end of the year.

Mr. Kakfwi stated, “In reviewing our activities over the past three years, we believe we have much to be proud of. Together, we made an important contribution to a more positive environment in which to bring about real change and build more genuine and positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. We learned a great deal and were constantly impressed and inspired by the diversity and number of people and organizations, big and small involved in this work across the country.”

There is much work still to be done if the fundamental goal for this country of true Nation-to-Nation, Inuit-to-Crown, and Government-to-Government relationships based on trust, respect, sharing and mutual responsibility are to become a reality. It is also evident that commitment to these shared goals on the part of each person who has been involved in this critical effort has only deepened. Our Board and Members intend to stay in touch in an informal network and each, in his or her own way, will continue to find avenues to help ensure that government’s feet are held to the fire, that bold and courageous leadership remains necessary among all concerned, and that governments are reminded that the positive but fragile public opinion and good will of civil society sparked by the TRC Final Report ‒ and encouraged by the commitments of the Prime Minister ‒ must be maintained and reinforced if lasting change and irreversible progress are to be the legacy of this important time.