We maintain, however, that recognition of the distinct place of Aboriginal nations in the Canadian federation and accommodation of Aboriginal culture and identity should be regarded as a core responsibility of public institutions rather than as a special project to be undertaken after other obligations are met. Educational institutions have a pivotal role in transforming the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and Canadian society.
– Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Final Report, Volume 3: Gathering Strength (1996, p. 477)
British Columbia is the only province that does not have historic treaties within its provincial boundaries, with the exception of Treaty 8 in the northeast of the province. The first modern-day treaties, such as the Nisga’a Treaty and the Tsawwassen Final Agreement, are changing the responsibilities of public organizations, including educational organizations. As public post-secondary teachers and instructors, we have a responsibility to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills necessary to work with and build relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. This includes a working knowledge of the changing political and social landscape and emerging and re-establishment of rights and title of First Nations, Métis, Inuit organizations and communities. It also includes incorporating the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous issues can no longer be considered a fringe concern; instead, Indigenous views, perspectives, and self-determination form part of the learning landscape in our institutions.