Richard Feehan
Minister of Indigenous Relations


Born: Edmonton, 1960/2/11 (age 56)
Education: BA, U of A; BSW, U of C; MSW, Wilfrid Laurier
Prior to provincial politics: Teacher, U of C Faculty of Social Work (Edmonton); program director, Edm. Social Planning Council; VP, Catholic Social Services; private social work practice
First elected: 2015/5/5
Constituency: Edmonton-Rutherford
Sworn in as Minister of Economic Development: 2016/2/2

Responsibilities: Aboriginal consultation; stewardship and policy integration; First Nations relations; Métis relations; UNDRIP; land claims; Aboriginal women’s services; other initiatives (e.g., Aboriginal Business Investment Fund)
Number of lobbyist registrations for “Aboriginal Affairs”: 85
Sample lobbyists:Oil Sands Developers Group (re Aboriginal consultation); Stone Creek Resorts (re Canmore development); Lower Nicola Indian Band (re TransMountain Pipeline)

Minister contact:
Deputy Minister: Donavon Young (

Grade: C

Feehan spent his first year on the job meeting First Nations leaders and doing the powwow circuit. The former social worker speaks of the systemic causes of inequality; his government sees a “discriminatory funding gap” between federal and provincial social services, which shortfall contributes to thirdworld conditions on some reserves and to Aboriginal-filled jails. Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, however, argues the province’s own child welfare system also fails First Nations kids. The province says that by adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “consistent with the Constitution and Alberta law”—way easier said than done—it will encourage self-determination and improve social outcomes. A provincial “framework deal” last April promises the same for Treaty 8 First Nations. In May Feehan led the repeal of Alberta’s Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act; he hasn’t yet said how he’ll legitimize consultation. His ministry hasn’t been given a formal mandate, but Feehan’s 2016–19 business plan pledges to repair homes at Siksika and Stoney Nakoda flooded in 2013 (why wasn’t this done earlier?) and finish a geo-data mapping project. Feehan will also grant $2.5-million to First Nations for solar panels. New proposed K–12 curriculum—an Education ministry effort—will explore how the Indian Act and residential schools underpin today’s inequality. Slow progress—but progress all the same. #

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