At the start of autumn, and as part of the Wales in Canada Year, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales (FCG), Sophie Howe, visited Canada to strengthen existing, and build new relationships between Wales and Canadian stakeholders around well-being and sustainable development.
It was a jam-packed week full of meetings, events and engagement opportunities with various First Nations, Federal and Provincial stakeholders and governments. We had the opportunity to learn about Canada’s initiatives around well-being and sustainable development and also to share Wales’ experience of developing and implementing our own Well-being of Future Generations legislation.
We kicked off the visit in Canada’s capital, Ottawa with an insightful meeting with the Quality of Life Team at the Canada Treasury Board Secretariat. We learned about Canada’s Federal Government approach to well-being and shared how Wales’ Future Generations Act ensures long-lasting, positive changes are made to current and future generations.
Later that day the FCG gave a presentation on the Well-being of Future Generation's work in an excellent session hosted by Policy Horizons Canada. The presentation was followed by an in-depth conversation between the FCG and an audience of over 200. It was incredible to see so many questions coming through from people who wanted to learn more about Wales’ progressive approach to developing policies and laws.
The next day, we headed to Montreal and joined the Canadian Wellbeing Knowledge Network to hold a Wales-Canada webinar hosted by the McGill University.
The Canadian Wellbeing Knowledge Network (CWKN) is an emerging initiative of a growing group of organisations and individuals from public, private, academic and community sectors.
With the FGC invited as keynote speaker, the session focussed on lessons learned on moving beyond GDP as a central measure of progress to achieve real, long term, and sustainable prosperity. It was amazing to have Wales join the conversation with Yukon, Nova Scotia and Federal Government in Canada. We also learnt that that Wales’ Well-being of Future Generation's Act is often referenced in Canada as a model to aspire towards.
We then headed off to Vancouver where our focus shifted to engaging and listening to First Nations Communities in British Columbia. We also had representatives from Wales Arts International (WAI) join us. WAI have recently launched a new programme - Gwrando - which presents an opportunity for people in Wales to nurture the art of listening to other languages, and for indigenous artists to share their work and their relationship with language through a co-designed collaborative project that focuses on the current loss of language diversity in the world.
Wales had the honour of joining Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) policy roundtable to focus on first nations’ approach to well-being. VEC is an external agency of the City of Vancouver and its purpose is to build a prosperous, inclusive, zero-carbon and resilient local economy. Dr Dara Kelly joined the FCG in giving a presentation on 'Centering First Nations Concepts of Wellbeing'.
Dr Dara Kelly is from the Leq’á:mel First Nation, part of the Stó:lō Coast Salish. She is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Business at the Beedie School of Business, SFU and her work challenges conventional economical practices whilst informing positive change by drawing on knowledge of Indigenous economics.
While Wales was the first to legislate for future generations, the Act has roots in the Seventh Generation Principle, which is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future. It was therefore a rich and important discussion around how we can take the lead from First Nations people to protect future generations from global crises.
FCG, Sophie Howe said:
“I’m proud that Wales has a Well-being of Future Generations Act, but we can use it to go further, allowing First Nations thinking and the experiences of people who live in sympathy with their environment, to guide our route to a better future.”
We finished off with a visit to the Museum of Anthropology in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.
The day honours the indigenous children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The evening began with an orange lantern procession in honour of residential school survivors and finished with a powerful night of Indigenous dance and reflection.
We'd like to thank all partners involved for giving Wales a warm welcome, for sharing your vision and ideas and for your engagement in Wales' progressive approach. It was truly heart-warming to find common goals between our two nations and strengthen the relationships between Wales and Canada around well-being and sustainable development.
Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015
The Well-being of Future Generations Act gives us the ambition, permission and legal obligation to improve our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being.
The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change.
The Act is unique to Wales attracting interest from countries across the world as it offers a huge opportunity to make a long-lasting, positive change to current and future generations.