What the Data Make Possible
“You can’t do anything without good information; it’s as simple as that,” says Al Benoit. “For programs, for policies, for everything—you need to gather the evidence if you’re going to make good decisions and be effective.”
Like Al Benoit, those who have supported the UAPS see the data as a potential starting point for a range of initiatives: organizing and capacity-building in the cities studied; dialogue among Aboriginal networks and organizations about urban realities in different parts of the country; policy discussions at all levels of government; public dialogue; and, of course, further research.
Currently, the Environics Institute is preparing to begin an enagement process in the eleven cities that shared their insights and told their stories. “A huge community of people have been touched by this process,” says Michael Adams. “Our advisors and funders, our dozens of Aboriginal research partners, and of course the 2,700 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people who exercised the generosity to talk to us. Our responsibility now is to make sure that this information goes back to those communities and is shared with the greatest respect for those who offered it.”
In addition to advancing policy discussions and informing the Canadian conversation about social changes among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, some have suggested the UAPS may plant the seeds for increased solidarity and pride among urban Aboriginal peoples. Ginger Gosnell-Myers says, “When urban Aboriginal peoples are researched it’s often about problems like homelessness and sexual exploitation. There are hundreds of thousands of us living in cities, and there are a lot of positive things happening in our communities; it’s not all crisis. But unless someone comes along and says, ‘This is interesting. Tell me about your choices, tell me about your community,’ then people don’t notice that they’re part of a wider social change. It’s just life.”