Nepotism Still Significant Issue on Many Reserves: Survey suggests aggressive action needed to address problem

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Frontier Centre


Fairness in Hiring On-Reserve

One important dimension of good governance is fairness in hiring for government jobs. Unfortunately, the responses to our questions here  suggest nepotism and preferential hiring distort the job market in many Aboriginal communities. To evaluate fairness in hiring, we asked our respondents to tell us whether, and to what extent, being a member of the Chief’s family would help an individual in obtaining a job on reserve. The following chart illustrates the responses.


Source: The Third Annual Aboriginal governance Index. Available at
·         When asked how being a member of the Chief’s family would impact an individual’s job prospects, approximately one third of those who responded said that it would “guarantee” a job.
·         An additional third of respondents said that such a relation would “help” an individual get a job, and a further 16 per cent said that it would be a “small help.”
·         Just 17 per cent of respondents said that being related to the chief would either be no help, or would make it more difficult to get a job on the reserve.
It is a fundamental principle of good governance that hiring decisions for government positions must be based on the merit of the applicants, and not on who the applicants happen to know or be related to. Unfortunately, our respondents gave the clear impression that nepotism exists within many reserve communities. This sort of preferential hiring can lower the quality of on-reserve governance and breed anger, resentment and division within communities. The responses to our survey show that aggressive action is required in many communities to address this problem in order to eliminate the distortions in local labour markets which are currently being caused by preferential hiring.

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