Implementation Evaluation and Socio-Economic Impacts

This report contributes to the work undertaken as part of the Modern Treaties Implementation Research Project’s Implementation Evaluation and Socio-Economic Impacts research theme, which aims to develop an approach to gathering evidence that will assist policy makers in improving Modern Treaty implementation. The following review of literature was conducted to identify potentially relevant and culturally adapted quantitative and qualitative indicators of well-being for measuring the impacts of treaties on indigenous peoples in Canada. Drawing on current initiatives in Canada and abroad, this report explores the processes, approaches and benchmarks used to identify, measure and monitor indigenous well-being through indicators.

Drawing on Indigenous well-being assessment frameworks and initiatives in Canada and abroad, it explores the processes, approaches and benchmarks used to identify, measure and monitor indigenous well-being through indicators. This report first outlines a definition of indigenous well-being, then explores how quantitative and qualitative approached can be used for data collection and analysis. National frameworks for measuring components associated to Indigenous well-being and socio-economic disparities among Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations are subsequently examined, namely Australia’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, New Zealand’s Living Standards Framework, the United States’ Human Well-Being Index. International organisations which either offer frameworks or identify measures adapted to Indigenous realities are later discussed, including the frameworks developed by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the key elements outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for grasping the particularities of Indigenous economic development. Academic studies and projects on Indigenous well-being are then discussed, with a particular focus on three specific research projects, followed by a presentation of several well-being initiatives undertaken in Canada.

This report reveals the diversity of frameworks that attempt to define the conditions and capacities required for Indigenous people to lead satisfying, rewarding and fulfilling lives without compromising the well-being of future generations. Each is founded on a vision, such as to examine the changing situation of a population within a given time interval or period; to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, or to determine whether indigenous populations are doing better or worse on certain well-being indicators, expressed through general objectives and specific targets. While there is no single indicator or framework that can perfectly capture the multiple, complex and inherently personal experiences of well-being, the concept of well-being offers a practical lens through which one can examine the factors or conditions that contribute to the ability of persons and communities to live healthy and meaningful lives. These determinants include the transient needs and requirements that emerge from the events shaping a person’s life course, as well as the social structures, systems and institutions responsible of the enduring health inequities between particular subgroups of a given population.

Aside from evaluating and monitoring the well-being of Indigenous communities and Nations, well-being frameworks and indicators are capable of fostering constructive public discussions over development priorities and objectives, to monitor trends across key dimensions, inform planning and decision-making process, and ultimately reinforces the legitimacy, capabilities, resources and accountability of governments. Frameworks should build on the conclusions drawn from academic studies, as well as relevant government and international initiatives, and promote cooperation between different societal actors, groups, organizations as well as governments. This report also highlights the importance of documenting the process and outcomes of initiatives currently being implemented to measure and monitor Indigenous well-being across Canada to allow other communities and nations, interested in potentially using data to inform planning and decision-making processes, to collaborate, to learn from their realizations, as well as their mistakes.