On the evening of Monday, May 29th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. The meeting will start at 6:00pm. If you are interested in joining, please email email@example.com for further details.
You can also check out policybookclub to see what other books are on the reading list.
From the publisher:
100,000 years ago, at least six species of human inhabited the earth. Today there is just one.
How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?
In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical — and sometimes devastating — breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, palaeontology, and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?
Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power…and our future.
The IPAC Saskatchewan Regional Group is pleased to invite you to a live webcast:
Engaging Indigenous Governments and Businesses is the Canadian Economy
Kelly Lendsay, President and CEO of Indigenous Works, asks “Why do First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities continue to be excluded from the mainstream economy?” Canada’s GDP could grow by $270 billion and social remedial costs reduced when Indigenous peoples attain the same levels of education and employment. The benefits to be gained on all sides are clear, yet there remains a great divide between Indigenous businesses and organizations and corporate Canada.
Indigenous Works has just completed baseline research that provides new insights into the current state of relationships between major Canadian businesses and Indigenous peoples. Kelly Lendsay will present the study’s findings, and discuss the role that all governments and others can play in bridging the divide and fostering beneficial partnerships.
Webcast moderated by: Christian Kittleson, Associate Partner – Ernst & Young – Victoria Practice Lead – Government & Public Sector Advisory
June 28, 2017
Second Floor Boardroom 210 at 2 Research Drive, University of Regina
IPAC Sask Annual General Meeting: 3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Webcast: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Networking and refreshments to follow
Hors d’oeurves will be served. Cash bar.
$10 non-member, free for members. Pay at door (cash only). Registration required by June 26, 2017 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the IPAC Saskatchewan Regional Group Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be taking place just prior to the webcast at 3:30 pm. Non-members are welcome to attend the AGM but cannot vote. The webcast will begin promptly at 4:00 pm.
The New Professionals Subcommittee of IPAC Saskatchewan invites you to join us on Wednesday, June 7th for a speed networking event.
If you are a new professional in the public service that is interested in expanding your network in a fun and casual atmosphere, join us for an evening of speed networking, where you will have the chance to connect with other new professionals in Regina.
The event will be held at Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Ave. Informal networking will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the event starting at 5:45 p.m. Appetizers and a cash bar will be available.
For additional information, or to RSVP, please contact Meaghen Boiteau at email@example.com
Please RSVP by June 2nd, 2017.
5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – open networking
5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. – opening remarks, event explanation
I encourage you to consider nominating a public servant, or a public service team, for the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of the Saskatchewan Regional Group of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC).
This prestigious medal recognizes a person or work team that has demonstrated distinctive leadership and exceptional achievement in public administration in Saskatchewan. The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan will present this award on September 21, 2017 during a ceremony at Government House hosted by the Saskatchewan Regional Group of IPAC.
Previous recipients of this award include meritorious public servants from all levels of government and a variety of fields of interest and public sector specialization across Saskatchewan.
Annually we also accept nominations for an award to honour promising new public sector professionals in Saskatchewan. I invite you to nominate an outstanding new professional for the Saskatchewan Regional Group of IPAC’s Promising New Professional award.
This Promising New Professional award recognizes an individual or team of individuals with less than five years of cumulative experience in public service who demonstrates:
leadership potential within the public service;
the ideals and values of public administration; and
the ability and potential to contribute to excellence in public service in Saskatchewan.
On the evening of Monday, April 24th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil. The meeting will start at 6:00pm. If you are interested in joining, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
You can also check out policybookclub to see what other books are on the reading list.
From the publisher:
We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.
But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.
Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health.
O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours) by Harold R. Johnson
University of Regina Press, 2016
Over the last several years, the University of Regina Press has published a number of books dealing with the history of and current challenges facing Indigenous Peoples. From Clearing the Plains to The Education of Augie Merasty to Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours), U of R Press has brought forth three national bestsellers that present stories of both abject horror and ultimate hope for the future. In honour of 2017: IPAC’s National Year of Dialogue, we are presenting reviews of these important works.
Released in 2016, Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours) is Harold Johnson’s testimony to a problem he passionately and in a deeply personal way argues has taken and is taking a devastating toll on the lives and communities of Indigenous Peoples across Canada. Johnson writes from the perspective of a Cree Crown Prosecutor working in Northern Saskatchewan with direct experience of the problem. The book is a direct and clearly heartfelt plea for Indigenous People (and indeed all Canadians) to take a deep and serious look at the role of alcohol in their lives. The book also asks for a re-examination and re-definition of the stories that have been told (and are being told) that continue to create beliefs that no longer serve a healthy purpose in the lives of Indigenous Peoples.
“This small book is a conversation between myself and my relatives, the Woodland Cree. Its purpose is to begin a discussion about the harmful impacts of alcohol consumption and to address the extreme death rate directly connected to the use of alcohol in our Northern Saskatchewan communities.”
Harold R. Johnson
I must state for the record that I am not an Indigenous Person; indeed, I am kiciwamanawak. This is the first book in which I have encountered this Cree term for Non-Indigenous People. Firewater is full of Cree vocabulary like this along with traditional narratives that Harold Johnson utilizes to illustrate how powerful stories can be in defining both a people and an individual. This use of Cree terminology and traditional stories is a key element of Firewater that made the book such a powerful read for me.
As I was reading, it was never far from my consciousness that I was consuming this book as kiciwamanawak and that I would have to take great care to try and suspend some of the ingrained stories that I hold dear that have shaped my own beliefs and with which I live my life. In the end, I discovered some new facts not only about an important issue for the future of Saskatchewan but also something about myself – something about stories and the power they have over our destinies. Although I am kiciwamanawak, the book became deeply personal to me in a way that I could not have imagined when I first picked it up. Indeed, I have read and internalized Harold Johnson’s words and I believe that they are tremendously helpful. I hope to use them in a good way.
“I speak, however, only to my people, the Woodland Cree. I have no right to speak to anyone else. But if you hear my words and if these words help you, then take them and use them in a good way. If you cannot use them in a good way, then leave them here.”
Harold R. Johnson
I could go on and restate the facts outlined in the book (as many other reviewers have) regarding how alcohol and its use is causing dire problems in the lives of Indigenous (and also Non-Indigenous) Peoples across Saskatchewan and Canada. I could quote the statistics regarding accidents, violence, and death that Harold Johnson provides. But those cold, hard facts are only the foundation of the book and a way to scope and size the problem. What I think is much more important about Firewater is the argument that weaves its way throughout that stories and the way that they have been adopted and have formed a set of beliefs about alcohol is the core problem that needs to be addressed. Johnson presents the case that these stories and the beliefs that they perpetuate are the real root of the problem and that Indigenous Peoples need to take back control of their stories in order to find a better, healthier way forward. This strikes me as a very compelling argument for all people whose lives are being negatively impacted by alcohol (or any other negative influence for that matter). We all need to become mindful of and take back control of the stories that we believe and hold dear.
“We can live any story that we want. We can live a romance, or a tragedy, or a comedy, or a mystery, or a fantasy, or a fable, or a fairytale. We can decide which story we want to be in and tell it to ourselves. The only limit on our ability to choose our own story is the story into which we are born. We have all been raised in a particular story. When we recognize it as story, it loses its power. This is especially true of victim stories. All of what we refer to as ‘society’ is the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.”
Harold R. Johnson
There is a message here for all people – what stories are we living out in our lives? Do they serve a healthy and uplifting purpose? Even if we believe that we are living out healthy stories, are we actually living consistently with them? For example, Harold Johnson cites the behaviour of legal teams that fly into Northern Saskatchewan to deal with alcohol-related problems, subsequently putting people in jail, and then getting back on a plane loaded with booze for their trip back home. As a result, there is also a message here for all kiciwamanawak public servants who are tasked with attempting to deal with and help contribute solutions to the problems that are facing Indigenous Peoples – deeply consider the stories that we are living by and whether or not they are also part of the problem.
Book review by Christopher Malnyk, IPAC Saskatchewan Communications Chair.
The following is an interview with Harold R. Johnson on his book Firewater from CBC Radio’s “The Next Chapter”:
On Monday, March 27th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “Pre-Suasian: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade” by Robert Cialdini. If you are interested in joining, email email@example.com. You can also check out policybook.club to see what other books are on the reading list.
From the publisher:
The author of the legendary bestseller Influence, social psychologist Robert Cialdini shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered.
What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using the same combination of rigorous scientific research and accessibility that made his Influence an iconic bestseller, Robert Cialdini explains how to capitalize on the essential window of time before you deliver an important message. This “privileged moment for change” prepares people to be receptive to a message before they experience it. Optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”
His first solo work in over thirty years, Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion draws on his extensive experience as the most cited social psychologist of our time and explains the techniques a person should implement to become a master persuader. Altering a listener’s attitudes, beliefs, or experiences isn’t necessary, says Cialdini—all that’s required is for a communicator to redirect the audience’s focus of attention before a relevant action.
From studies on advertising imagery to treating opiate addiction, from the annual letters of Berkshire Hathaway to the annals of history, Cialdini draws on an array of studies and narratives to outline the specific techniques you can use on online marketing campaigns and even effective wartime propaganda. He illustrates how the artful diversion of attention leads to successful pre-suasion and gets your targeted audience primed and ready to say, “Yes.”
Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples has emerged – at long last – as a national priority. The Government of Canada under Prime Minster Trudeau has made improving relations with Aboriginal Canadians a “whole of government” commitment. The underlying issues are numerous and substantial, ranging from widespread poverty, housing crises in many communities, cultural loss, to local economic development and major issues with local infrastructure. For federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments there is a substantial list of urgent needs and conflicting priorities. For Indigenous governments, many with growing administrative responsibilities and increased financial resources, the challenges are even more pressing.
The national commitment to reconciliation places major responsibilities on the backs of the country’s civil servants. Indeed, substantial and sustained reconciliation is impossible without the deep engagement of the civil service with the rebuilding of relationships with Indigenous peoples. Given the fundamental importance of government social service programs, community infrastructure development, policing, environmental assessment, fire protection and safety, education and health services, and other areas of engagement, civil servants clearly play a significant role in working with Indigenous communities and enhancing quality of life outcomes. At this point, where many civil servants have limited engagement with Indigenous issues, the basic reality is that the profession needs to learn how to learn about Indigenous peoples, communities and public policy issues.
In many governments, particularly those (like the Government of Canada) that have adopted a “whole of government” approach to Indigenous affairs, many civil servants have some responsibility for Indigenous issues. These are important obligations. Successful civil servants contribute substantially to the resolution and management of vital issues that range from health care provision and road construction to resource development and constitutional affairs. At the same time, civil servants who are poorly prepared for work with communities, who do not understand cultural protocols or appreciate the nature and responsibilities of Indigenous governments, add to inter-governmental difficulties and slow development projects.
Civil servants, many finding their work intersecting with numerous Indigenous communities, face the challenge of developing cross-cultural skills, an understanding of the affected Indigenous peoples and the managerial abilities needed to engage effectively with diverse communities. They need to be alert to the fast changing political and legal developments in Indigenous affairs while also being aware of the legacy of generations of paternalism and colonialism that shapes Indigenous understanding of the role and values of the Canadian civil service. Working successfully with Indigenous organizations, in other words, can be difficult and professionally risky, particularly if a particular government unit involved does not have a history of successful collaboration and outreach.
Canadians look to their governments to provide role models for the effective application of national and sub-national policy priorities. This was the case with bilingualism, with the federal civil service setting the standard for the development of inclusive French-language services. Federal and provincial governments showed the way on Canadian multiculturalism, both by hiring employees from diverse backgrounds, building awareness of cultural differences into their service delivery models, and promoting multi-cultural engagement generally. The civil service should be, but is not in the main, using government innovation with information technology to pave the way for greater technology application across the country as a whole. The civil service can shape the national character, but it is not inevitable that they will do so.
The country will – and should – look to the Canadian civil service for leadership on reconciliation. The political arm of government can address most of the ceremonial and high profile elements of rebuilding relations with Indigenous peoples. The civil service is called to convert promises and commitments into core government actions. This will necessitate greater employment of Indigenous workers, new styles of collaboration and consultation with Indigenous communities, widespread integration of Indigenous issues into program and departmental activities, and outreach to Indigenous organizations. Staff training and professional development should involve much more engagement with Indigenous governments and communities and not just conversations about Indigenous issues. Civil servants need to visit Indigenous settlements or urban facilities so that they get a personal sense of the achievements and challenges facing the communities.
There is a test for the civil service and it is one, sadly, where progress has been slow. For more than a generation, Indigenous leaders have argued that they should be recognized as an additional level of government. Many Indigenous communities are functioning as governments. Indigenous administrations, typically reporting to a Chief and Council, manage government funds, hire and train staff members, develop policies, raise income (including taxes in some instances), supervise the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, and provide a variety of community-level services. Their work shares a fair bit in common with municipal or regional governments, but also with elements of provincial/territorial and even federal responsibilities. In other words, Indigenous administrations look like governments, act like governments, and have civil service employees, like all governments.
The Canadian civil service, through its professional associations, conferences, and organizations, has to reach out to their Indigenous colleagues, to share resources, to learn from each other, and to improve collective understanding of Canadian governance issues. Some organizations have reached out and broadened their understanding of government and the civil service to incorporate Indigenous communities, although the engagement has typically been through the discussion of Indigenous issues more than active participation with Indigenous civil servants and governments. This is, for the Canadian civil service, an early and obvious test of their openness to real reconciliation. Treating Indigenous governments and their employees as part of the Canadian civil service community – not coopting them culturally or institutionally – but as professional colleagues whose work intersects and whose presence in the country is a force for good and effective governance. Civil services cannot encourage reconciliation between Indigenous and other Canadians unless it takes the first step and reaches out to Indigenous governments in an effort to find and expand common ground.
Little real cross-cultural learning will take place if civil services deal with Indigenous peoples and communities as a “problem” or interact with Indigenous governments only at a conceptual and policy-level. Working at the policy level with Indigenous issues is categorically different than interacting with Indigenous colleagues, visiting their communities, and partnering on policy development. The Canadian civil service can lead reconciliation in Canada, but it will require a commitment to learning from Indigenous Canadians and an acceptance of Indigenous governments as being integral to the governance system in Canada.
Dr. Ken Coates is the Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan and is a Munk Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute