The anger expressed in Elijah Harper's killing of the Meech Lake Accord and the events at Oka, Quebec, in the summer of 1990 galvanized the Mulroney government to action and resulted in the establishment of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Reporting six years later, the commission offered the most comprehensive survey and assessment of the state of Native peoples in Canada ever made. In extended hearings among Native and non-Native alike, the commission listened to people from coast to coast to coast. A unique feature of the commission was the attempt to balance Native and non-Native voices, an effort reflected in the composition of the commissioners-the co-chairs were former Assembly of First Nations chief George Erasmus and René Dussault, a Quebec Court of Appeals judge. The commission was founded on the premise that the situation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada was a national problem, not an exclusively Native one. The commission thus actively sought input from all Canadians, giving Natives an opportunity to voice their experiences in a national forum. The result of the commission's work was a massive report that not only surveyed the problems but attempted to set out a blueprint for action. The basis of this plan was a restructuring of the relationship between Native and non-Native in Canada, in essence recreating or restoring the original partnership between the "Natives and newcomers." Different aspects of the restructuring process were to focus on Aboriginal self-determination through self-government, economic self-sufficiency, and the healing of Native peoples and communities, within the context of a reorganization of the Canadian political system as it deals with Native peoples. The comprehensive nature of the commission's blueprint, the implications for the Canadian political system, and not least the anticipated cost of this overhaul-estimated at more than $30 billion over 20 years-have proven impediments to the government's wholehearted embrace of the proposed solution. Some elements have been acted upon, but the piecemeal approach continues to characterize the official response to the commission's recommendations.

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