The Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi) was founded as a result of the Aboriginal Policy Research Conference (APRC) held in Ottawa, Canada.
The first Aboriginal Policy Research Conference (APRC) was held in 2002. The conference was co-hosted by The University of Western Ontario (UWO, now Western University) and Indian and Northern Affairs Development Canada (INAC, now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada [AANDC]) with the participation of nearly twenty federal departments and agencies, and four national, non-political Aboriginal organizations. The conference was the largest of its kind ever held in Canada, with about 700 policymakers, researchers, scientists, academics, and Aboriginal community leaders coming together to examine and discuss cutting-edge research on Aboriginal issues.
By promoting interaction between researchers, policy-makers, and Aboriginal peoples, the conference was intended to:
- Expand our knowledge of the social, economic, and demographic determinants of Aboriginal well-being;
- Identify and facilitate the means by which this knowledge may be translated into effective policies; and
- Allow unresolved policy needs to shape the research agenda within government, academia, and Aboriginal communities.
The main portion of the conference spanned several days with over fifty workshops. In addition, several federal departments and agencies independently organized pre- and post-conference meetings and events in order to capitalize on the confluence of participants. Most notably, for example, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), held its first major consultation on Aboriginal research as an extension (post-conference) session. This launched the process leading to the Tri-Council guidelines on ethical research with Indigenous peoples.
In March 2006, INAC and UWO joined hands with the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). We had three co-chairs for the conference: Jerry White of the University of Western Ontario; Peter Dinsdale of the National Association of Friendship Centres, and Dan Beavon of the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
The 2006 Aboriginal Policy Research Conference (APRC) was intended to:
- Expand our knowledge of Aboriginal issues;
- Provide an important forum where these ideas and beliefs could be openly discussed and debated;
- Integrate research from diverse themes;
- Highlight research on Aboriginal women’s issues;
- Highlight research on urban Aboriginal issues; and
- Allow outstanding policy needs to shape the future research agenda.
This conference brought together over 1,100 researchers and policy makers from across Canada and around the world. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal delegates representing government, Aboriginal organizations, universities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks came together to assess and push forward evidence-based research and policy development. Ms. Elsa Stamatopoulou, Chief, Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, chaired a United Nations world consultation on measuring Indigenous people’s well-being during the conference.
In 2009, the third triennial meeting hosted over 1,300 delegates and over 150 workshops. It continued where the first two conferences left off. INAC, the UWO, and the NAFC joined forces once more to bring together researchers, students, policy makers, Aboriginal leaders and other interested parties nationally and internationally to present, consider, and debate exciting new research and discuss existing and new policies. The goal was to provide Aboriginal leaders and policy makers a chance to become aware of the implications of this research for both public policy and Aboriginal peoples across Canada.
In 2010, the decision was taken to formalize the networks that had grown from the APRC and the Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi) was founded. Jerry P. White of Canada was named as the first Director of the APRCi and permanent members were accepted from Canada, Russia, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
From 2010 to the present, the APRCi has launched a series of projects. It sponsored the founding of the International Indigenous Policy Journal (IIPJ) in 2010, IndigiLINK (2014), and most recently IndigiBASE (2015). It was a partner in the establishing of the Indigenous Health and Well-being Initiative (IHWI) and the International Summer School on Research with Indigenous Communities at Western University.
The current step forward in this evolution is to re-create the APRCi as a hub or gateway to the many active projects and people worldwide.