Witness the white people demanding we strip away democratic Indigenous autonomy and deny First Nations the benefits of resource development

Next year will mark a quarter century since the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) released its final report, a five-year undertaking that laid out a proposed architecture for a new relationship between the Canadian government and its Indigenous peoples. As Canada remains convulsed by a full-blown economic and transportation crisis that has utterly paralyzed our governments, it’s useful to look back at that landmark document to see how we failed.

The blueprint contained in the RCAP report was, in some ways, fundamentally unrealistic. (One key recommendation, for instance, was that Canada’s 600-plus Indigenous communities would voluntarily consolidate into 60 to 80 regional agglomerations that would share wealth and power among themselves.) But in other ways, the RCAP earned praise and respect — even from some conservatives, such as University of Calgary professor Tom Flanagan, who noted that the commissioners were focused on leading Indigenous people out of the welfare traps that exist on reserves.

Seen by today’s lights, moreover, the RCAP report was a laudably plain-spoken and practical document.