October 3, 2011, BC throne speech commitment:

Government will work with Aboriginal partners, the federal government and local governments to develop an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan to achieve better education and job training, healthier family life, and strengthened cultures and traditions. (p.20)

Background

The Off-Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan (ORAAP) is a unique collaboration that involves partners at all levels of government and community groups to share resources, knowledge, and creativity with the goal of creating positive changes for urban Aboriginal people living in B.C.

With growing numbers of Indigenous people in British Columbia living in urban settings, support systems that can address their unique needs and challenges are required.

Indigenous people in B.C. face a disproportionate number of barriers compared to non-Indigenous people, including lower graduation and employment rates, alarmingly high levels of poverty, youth in care, and youth suicide.

ORAAP has been developed to support Indigenous people's efforts to participate and prosper in BC's economy with a renewed sense of self and community. 

Through ORAAP, partners are working together to close socio-economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and build better futures for urban Aboriginal families in the province. This is done primarily through activities that improve education and employment outcomes, as well as strengthened traditions and cultures.

Who is involved?

The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) was tasked with coordinating and leading the development of ORAAP through the Provincial Coordination Team (PCT). The PCT is comprised of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), the Metis Nation BC (MNBC), MARR, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). These organizations have come together in a spirit of co-creation and innovation to facilitate urgent and important work required for better social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people who live in the towns and cities of British Columbia.

ORAAP Achievements

A unique model of collaboration has been achieved through ORAAP. Notable successes contributing to the well-being of urban Aboriginal people in British Columbia achieved through ORAAP include:

  • Improving employment outcomes through the BCAAFC's 'Five by Five' Aboriginal Jobs Strategy, and aligning the Jobs Strategy with the BC's Skills for Jobs Blueprint through a signed protocol agreement between BCAAFC and MARR

  • Conducting research in B.C.'s urban Aboriginal communities with over 2,000 surveys to understand the barriers and opportunities to increased participation in the economy for Aboriginal people and developing regional plans as part of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy

  • Supporting the development of Social Enterprise and Social Innovation as a means to attaining self-sufficiency and create jobs, services and supports to Indigenous families

  • Sector research and partnerships to promote hiring of Aboriginal people and gain a better understanding of the barriers employers face in hiring Aboriginal employees

Other initiatives facilitated through the ORAAP partnership include:

  • Gathering our Voices national Aboriginal Youth Conference (GOV)

  • Working with the federal and provincial governments to establish Five by Five Centres of Employment in BC Friendship Centres

  • Campaign against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in northern communities

  • Labour Market Partnership (LMP) projects with the BC Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training (JTST) to strengthen the Aboriginal Non-profit sector

  • Hosting the Aboriginal Distance Education Conference at Royal Roads (Nov 5-6, 2015).

  • Aboriginal Family Literacy Initiative (AFLI) in Friendship Centres, increasing literacy levels in a familial environment to better prepare children for school and assist parents

  • Facilitating the establishment of affordable and culturally safe daycare spaces in Friendship Centres to create jobs and allow parents to pursue education and career opportunities

Future Vision

Looking forward, many important initiatives will be pursued through ORAAP in the following four priority areas:

  1. Aboriginal Community Capacity Building: increasing the capacity of Aboriginal organizations and communities to meet their needs.
  2. Socio-Economic Development: building strong social structures to ensure Aboriginal people have the supports they need to be successful, which may be different than mainstream definitions.
  3. Aboriginal Participation in the Economy: removing systemic educational and employment barriers and creating new safe and supportive learning and working opportunities that encourage the full participation of Aboriginal people in the economic life of B.C.
  4. Reconciliation: ushering a 'cultural shift in relations' among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal citizens of B.C. through increased awareness of the legacy of colonialism and the conditions that promote racism, violence and inter-generational trauma experienced by Aboriginal people.

Web links:

Speech from the Throne (p.20): Speech from Throne Oct 20,2011

BC Government ORAAP info page: off-reserve-aboriginal-action-plan-oraap

ORAAP Backgrounder: http://www.pgnfc.com/offreservebackgrounder.pdf

Report highlights off-reserve action plan progress: report-highlights-off-reserve-action-plan-progress