A photo taken at a National Indigenous Peoples Day event in Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park in Prince George, B.C. on June 21, 2019. (Photo: Coldsnap Festival/Flickr via Creative Commons)

Topics: Justice | Indigenous

How an Indigenous Peoples Fund would actively further reconciliation

While it may be a time for settlers to listen and learn, they also need to engage and act


UPDATE: The Citizens’ Group for the 1% Indigenous Peoples Fund, of which Maggie Dieter is a part, has released an updated version of their proposal. You can find it here.

I was ordained by The United Church of Canada, the same church that administered the Indian residential school my father attended. This reality is not separate from my call to serve a church that, I believe, has a core purpose of speaking truth about inequity and acting for the dignity of all people. Indigenous Peoples understand that all life is connected in a web of relationships. The apostle Paul shared this same understanding with the community of Corinth when he wrote: If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.”

In July of 2021, I was introduced to a small group of retired and active leaders (five Indigenous and one settler), who, acting on their commitment to concretely build a respectful and just relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada, were developing a paper called the “Concept Proposal towards Transforming Indigenous and Settler Relations.”

The paper provides three steps for Canada to gain traction in transforming Indigenous/settler relations.

  • First, it calls on Canada to mandate the creation of an Indigenous Peoples Fund (IPF). The IPF would be resourced by a one percent tax on all real estate sales in Canada.
  • Secondly, the IPF would build on the capacity of Indigenous Peoples and their communities by supporting human development initiatives in areas that address existing social and economic gaps.
  • Finally, the IPF would be administered by a pan-Canadian Indigenous agency of Indigenous, Inuit and Metis Peoples.

The document offers a brief overview of how 500 years of imposing colonizing tools like the Doctrine of Discovery and the Indian Act of 1876 have impacted Indigenous Peoples, revealing the dire need for change.

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The proposed IPF will provide an opportunity for Canadians to become active participants in righting this relationship. While initiatives like land acknowledgments in city and town halls have a role to play in building awareness, they will not bring wellness, clean water and mould-free dwellings and wellness to families and communities. The IPF will advance the acknowledgment of the history of and relationship with the land to an act of justice and reparation.

A public draft of the concept paper was recently circulated to a number of leaders and organizations asking for their reaction. While the feedback was generally supportive, more work is needed to sharpen the focus on the longstanding inequitable relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples. This is a relationship that the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples described as one “… built on a foundation of false premises.”

A reworking of the document will refer to other documents and reports that offer solutions to renew this troubling relationship, documents like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Cash Back, A Yellowhead Institute Red Paper. The paper will also require input and support from national Indigenous organizations and leaders. Seeking action from the Parliament of Canada to mandate the creation of an IPF will be no small task. More study and more dialogue is needed. Champions and leaders are also needed to educate and build momentum.

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While it may be a time for settler neighbours to listen and learn, there is also an urgency to engage and to act. Debunking ideas that Indigenous Peoples receive free education and are exempt from paying taxes would be a decent start. Even more pressingly, Canadians need to understand that the dreadful statistics that speak to the poverty and social problems endemic to Indigenous communities are not the result of a peoples’ inability to thrive but arise from the tools of subjugation used to colonize them.

The solutions, including the IPF, are there for Canada to enact. The final reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are other examples of pathways towards deconstructing this colonial relationship that was formed on false and unsustainable premises. 

The time to act beyond word and gesture is now.


Maggie Dieter is an ordained United Church of Canada minister currently serving in New Hamburg, Ont. Maggie is Cree. Her homeland is on the Treaty Four Territory, the Peepeekisis First Nation (Saskatchewan). Maggie has served communities of faith within the Saugeen-Ojibway Nation Territory, the Neyasshingaming and Saugeen First Nations, and has served as the Executive Minister, Indigenous Ministries and Justice at The United Church of Canada’s General Council office.  Maggie is a mother, a grandmother and an intergenerational survivor of the Indian Residential School system.

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  • says:

    The proposal makes sense as a talking point, but I wonder why a one percent tax on real estate sales, when renters don't buy and sell and some properties remain in family hands for generations. It seems an IPF surtax on all annual property taxes nationwide (residential, farms, raw land, industrial, and commercial) would share the burden more equally, provide more total revenue, and be easily administered along with tax collections that already are in place. I am not sure of the rationale beyond the one percent rate, and some numerical adjustments may be warranted.

  • says:

    I believe you are taking 1 Corinthians 12 WAY out of context to prove a point.

    In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul is speaking to Christians and the common thread of having the Holy Spirit indwell in us. This passage in NO way is addressing humans in general, or "all living beings" in general.

    I agree that something needs to be done to improve our relationship with one another; but throwing money at another's feet is not the answer either. Both sides need to work towards a common good, and I fail to see it happening on either side.

  • says:

    "First, it calls on Canada to mandate the creation of an Indigenous Peoples Fund (IPF). The IPF would be resourced by a one percent tax on all real estate sales in Canada."

    From the Canadian Real Estate Association, wrt data for 2021, for homes only, no commercial properties:

    A) Number of Cdn Home sales = 650,000 (approx)
    B) Average Sale price = $ 700,000

    A x B x 0,01 = $ 4,5 Trillion with a 'T'

    And I thought 40 Billion was a lot ! Don't be surprised if the settlers suggest another metric.

  • says:

    Correction to prior comment - My mistake - way too many zeros. the correct figure is 4.5 Billion with a ' B' . This seems more reasonable if a one time shot.

    650,000 homes x $700,000 x 0,01 = $ 4,5 B approx for 2021

    Next time I'll use my fingers to operate a calculator rather than count zeros.

  • says:

    I'm a First Nation survivor of Indian Residential School and the Sixties Scoop and now live Ottawa. I'm encouraged by the work being done in healing in Vancouver and interested in starting a healing circle in Ottawa with other survivors. My education and training background in counseling, workshop facilitation provided the skills and group support through my healing and personal growth process that I believe can help other survivors. I've been walking in faith for 50 years and am now 70 years in age and would like to start healing circles and arts workshops here in Ottawa and also in need of start up funding. Please contact me if there are funding sources available.
    Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.