Creating Choices: Rethinking Aboriginal Policy.


142 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 978-0-88806-677-5
DDC 305.897'071'021





Reviewed by Susan Manitowabi

Susan Manitowabi is an assistant professor of Native Human Services at
Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.


There is much debate about the direction that Aboriginal policy should take. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal perceptions vary greatly between “what is and what should be and why” with respect to Aboriginal policy. Richards’s book is about the issues surrounding Aboriginal policy in Canada at all levels—federal, provincial, and Aboriginal. Aboriginal people are consistently and significantly less well off than other Canadians for a myriad of reasons, including the impacts of historical federal government “Indian” policy, the adoption of new social programs in the 1960s, and the increased scrutiny of Aboriginal policy.


Richards argues for a review of Aboriginal policy at all levels of government. Richards indicated that governments are judged based on actual performance measures of the following criteria: education outcomes, health outcomes, and average income levels. The premise is that “better educated populations tend to be healthier and better able to get better paying jobs.” Thus, many of the recommendations centre on reform of the on-Reserve Aboriginal education system, use of affirmative action programs, integration of Aboriginal and provincial health care systems, elimination of federal tax exemption, institution of a taxation system, and development of an intertribal social assistance agency. While Richards provides a great rationale through the use of evidence to support these recommendations, his view on the direction that Aboriginal policy should take has the potential to spark debate among Aboriginal leadership who are not quite convinced that this is the appropriate solution.


Creating Choices not only offers an alternate vision for Aboriginal policy in Canada, it also it raises critical issues that need to be addressed and prompts debate about Aboriginal policy that considers many points of view and allows for thinking outside the box.


Richards, John., “Creating Choices: Rethinking Aboriginal Policy.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,