A First Nations researcher says she thinks it is time the scope and aim of the duty to consult policy was widened to cover social needs.

Bonita Beatty of the University of Saskatchewan’s International Centre for Northern Governance and Development recently contributed to a book on social policy making in Saskatchewan.

In the work, Beatty says when the duty to consult process is mentioned, people automatically think of lands and resources — but she says that has to change:

“So in areas or matters that affect their children, housing, education, health and so on, they have a duty to sit down and talk with them and work with them as opposed to making decisions above their heads and enforcing it in some ways.”

She feels too much attention tends to be placed on the differences between the two sides or when one party offends the other, and that needs to change.

Beatty says that means looking more at formal relationships that actually deal with specific files like education or housing.

She adds a higher standard of Aboriginal engagement is required to push things forward.