December 4, 2018 - No. 43
Opposition to Government's Bogus "Recognition and Implementation
of Indigenous Rights Framework"
December 4 -- 11:00 am
Youth Action in Ottawa to Stop the
- Barbara Biley -
Liberals' New Attempt at a "Final Solution"
- Pauline Easton -
• Trudeau's Dance of Deception on
- Pam Palmater -
• Rejection of Federal Recognition
and Implementation Framework
- Resolution 32-18 Passed at All Ontario Chiefs
June 26-27, 2018 -
• Rights Recognition Framework
Engagement Needs a Hard Reset
- Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, September
Inuit and Métis (Excerpts)
• Aaron Detlor, Haudenosaunee
- October 2, 2018 -
• Ghislain Picard, Chief, Assembly
of First Nations
of Quebec and Labrador
- June 12, 2018 -
• Christopher Sheppard, President,
of Friendship Centres
- May 9, 2018 -
• Francyne Joe, President, Native
Women's Association of Canada
- May 9, 2018 -
On the National
Inquiry into Murdered and Missing
Indigenous Women and Girls
• National Inquiry "A Complete Waste of Time"
Unless It Dramatically Transforms Power Structures
- Union of BC Indian Chiefs -
Government of Canada
• New Ministers to Support the
with Indigenous Peoples
- August 28, 2017 -
• Principles Respecting the
Government of Canada's
Relationship with Indigenous
- Department of Justice, February 14, 2018 -
Unwavering Opposition to Government's
and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework"
Indigenous Youth Action in Ottawa
to Stop the Framework
On December 4, under the banner Stop the Framework,
Indigenous youth and allies are holding a demonstration on
Parliament Hill at 11 am, followed by a march to the Ottawa
Westin Hotel where the youth will address the Chiefs and
delegates attending the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs
Assembly taking place there December 4-6. The initiative was
taken by the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI)
who issued "A Call to Action to Protect Our Ways -- Empowering
the Youth to Stop the Framework." The Indigenous Activist
Network -- Idle No More, Truth Campaign and Defenders of the Land
-- are calling for a national day of action across the country in
solidarity with the AIAI and youth leading the Ottawa
Youth raise funds at special assembly of Chiefs of Ontario, November
2018, to bring more
youth to December 4 rally in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, the Special Chiefs Assembly organized by the
Assembly of First Nations is being held on the theme "Acknowledging our
Challenges, Successes, and Opportunities." More than four hours
are allotted for federal Ministers and Party Leaders; no details
are provided. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
and Northern Development, is expected to speak on the "Indigenous
The Trudeau Liberals have
been attempting throughout
year to bully or cajole selected Indigenous individuals and
groups to sign onto their plans for new legislation, which they
call "Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights
Framework." This plan was introduced by Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau in the House of Commons on February 14, Valentine's Day,
which is also the day of the annual Women's Memorial March in
various cities across the country to honour murdered and missing
Indigenous women and demand solutions.
The announcement on February 14 says, "To truly
relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples, the
Government of Canada must make the recognition and implementation
of rights the basis for all relations between Indigenous Peoples
and the federal government." It says, "The Contents of the
Framework will be determined through national engagement
activities led by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and
Northern Affairs." Minister Bennett is known to have held
spurious meetings with selected groups and individuals. This
process was to have been carried out throughout the spring so as
to be able to table legislation in the House of Commons before
the end of this year with the aim of having it passed before the
Both the content of the government's proposals and the
of "consultation" have been condemned by Indigenous organizations
and many individuals, including legal experts and people who have
participated in studies and negotiations in the past.
Women's Memorial March, Vancouver, February 14, 2017. (M. Bush)
In response to the firestorm of opposition and the
that the process be stopped or 'reset' which culminated in the
summer, on September 7 the government issued a lengthy document
entitled "Overview of a Recognition and Implementation of
Indigenous Rights Framework." The document caused even more
concern. It lays out in no uncertain terms that the Liberal
government's conception of "rights," a word which appears 83
times in the document, is actually a cover for extinguishing
rights and dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their lands and
resources. Among its many proposals it repeats time and again
that the recognition of Indigenous nations and collectives is the
prerogative of the government. Everything that flows from the
concept of rights -- not as inherent, hereditary and treaty rights,
but as privileges flowing from whether or not there is recognition
by the federal government -- is precisely designed to dress the old
colonial rule in modern garb.
One of the themes that the
government has stressed in
attempt to impose the Indigenous Rights Framework is the need for
"certainty." The Trudeau government, which belatedly "signed on"
to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2016 for self-serving reasons, continues to
substitute phony "consultations" for Free, Prior and Informed
Consent, forcing Indigenous peoples and others to repeatedly take
governments to court over projects such as pipelines and hydro dams
that affect the environment and violate the rights
of Indigenous peoples and others. Minister Bennett argues that
the "Framework" will bring "certainty" and save Indigenous peoples
the cost of going to court. But Trudeau and his ministers have
made it crystal clear throughout the year that the "certainty"
they are seeking is the certainty that whatever projects the
international oligarchs want and need will be made to happen. If
it were otherwise it would not be the federal government that is found
to have failed to even "consult" and which is virulently opposed to the
court challenges that it must defend Indigenous rights in the here and
now. It would not be the stand of the federal government which admits
the courts keep saying the government has to consult so it goes through
the motions on the basis of saying "Make no mistake -- the Trans
Mountain Pipeline Project will go ahead."
The stand to "Stop the Framework!" is needed.
Nation-to-nation relations demand the establishment of a process
which adheres to the principles of the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These principles recognize
hereditary rights and existing treaties. The aim is to provide
real problems with real solutions that recognize the right of
the people to take the decisions which affect their lives. They
have to put racism, paternalism and colonial arrangements into
the garbage once and for all.
Community meeting in Oneida, Ontario on the Framework, November 25,
Trudeau Liberals' New Attempt at a "Final Solution"
Extinguish Hereditary Rights
To explain its new Indigenous rights framework and what
is up to, the Trudeau government says: "A clear Recognition and
Implementation of Rights Framework across the federal government will
partnership -- from coast to coast to
coast. " (TML Weekly emphasis). The key words are
"clarity," "certainty," "Canada's responsibilities," "a
respectful, cooperative partnership." What do these things even
TML Weekly is using
the occasion of the action
Parliament Hill, organized by the Association of Iroquois and
Allied Indians, to inquire into what the government is up to. We
deduce the meaning of what the government says it seeks to
accomplish from what it is doing and what various Indigenous
chiefs and organizations are telling the government.
When Europeans first set foot on this land, the
inhabitants established nation-to-nation relations between
themselves and the Crown. Their explanation of what
nation-to-nation relations are -- what they meant at the time of
contact and thereafter and what they mean today -- is as clear as
clear can be. Canada's attempts to carry out the genocide of the
original inhabitants and implement a "final solution" to get rid
of "the Indian problem" once and for all are also as clear as
clear can be. Nonetheless, all relations must be carried out on a
nation-to-nation basis. What this means will be resolved by
actually doing it. But this is not what the government is doing.
It is imposing arrangements on the descendants of the original
inhabitants of this land called Canada, which define this country
in a manner which stinks of colonial injustice, paternalism,
racism and genocide. This concerns the descendants of the
original inhabitants referred to variously as First Nations,
Aboriginal Peoples, "Indians" and Inuit, as well as the Métis
nation who are the victims of government attempts to impose the
so-called new arrangements and framework. It also concerns every
man, woman and child who lives on this land.
The new arrangements and framework the government is
to establish as the law of the land are dictated to it by the
international financial oligarchs and money lenders, resource
extraction conglomerates and their hangers-on. Canada is doing
the bidding of the United States, the Pentagon, and NATO and its
North Atlantic Council. The buzz words about "clarity,"
"certainty" and "responsibilities" to establish "respectful,
cooperative partnerships" come from them, their think tanks,
security services and secret meetings. They reveal a very
pathetic Prime Minister who clings to a sycophantic (obsequious,
servile, subservient, deferential, groveling, toadying, fawning,
flattering, ingratiating, cringing, unctuous, slavish...) belief
that he can present a sow's ear as a silk purse.
The problem the victims of this framework
both those referred to as Aboriginal peoples, in lieu of names
they use to refer to themselves, Inuit and Métis and the members
of the Canadian polity -- is that everything is being done on the
basis of secret backroom deals, signed between nobody knows who
and murky counterparts, in exchange for what benefits, nobody
knows and to whom these benefits accrue, nobody knows.
To use the powers of the
state to expropriate the
erase all trace of hereditary, treaty and constitutional rights on the
basis that they are legally replaced with new arrangements
without anyone knowing what is going on is, to say the least,
cowardly. To then speak about achieving "clarity" and "certainty"
merely shows that the people must speak out and denounce
The government obviously has the power to pass laws and
declare what it is doing is legal and necessary and a matter of
national security but there is a sea of humanity lying between what it
is doing and is considered legal and what constitutes justice. Rights
cannot be given or taken away and they cannot be forfeited in any way.
They belong to the people by virtue of their being. This fact the
government cannot overcome. It is as clear as clear can be and we are
certain of that.
Join the Youth to Stop the Framework!
this issue, TML
extracts from statements which clearly explain what the government is
up to as concerns the "Indigenous Rights Framework" as well as the
Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It is
also reproducing the government's so-called ten principles on which it
bases its framework, all of which put decision-making in the
hands of treacherous lying characters who emit a very bad smell.
Trudeau's Dance of Deception on Indigenous Rights
On Feb. 14, 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
his plan to develop a new legislative framework called the
"Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework" intended to
recognize Indigenous rights and avoid litigation. This
announcement came after the incredible not guilty verdict in the
Gerald Stanley murder trial -- the farmer who killed Colten
Boushie from Red Pheasant First Nation -- and the subsequent
nationwide rallies and protests by Indigenous peoples.
There is no doubt that Trudeau was trying to deflect
attention from the deep-rooted racism within Canada's justice
system -- but also in his own government's failure to take
substantive action on any of the injustices facing Indigenous
peoples. Despite his many pre- and post-election promises to
Indigenous peoples -- Trudeau has been all talk and little
Aside from the opportunistic nature of his
is important to note that this is nothing new. Since his
election, Trudeau has made the same core promises to recognize
and implement Indigenous rights in a multitude of strategically
timed announcements. He campaigned on reviewing and repealing all
laws imposed on First Nations by the former Conservative
government headed by Stephen Harper. He promised to implement the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(UNDRIP), including the provision of free, prior and informed
consent which he confirmed meant a veto for First Nations.
After he was elected he reconfirmed that his government
renew the nation-to-nation relationship based on rights
recognition. However, his mandate letters to his cabinet tended
to focus more on specific social programs than any rights-based
agenda. Despite these very telling mandate letters, Trudeau
managed to maintain the fanfare around his government's
commitments at the Assembly of First Nations' (AFN) Chiefs in
Assembly meetings in 2015 and 2016. With very similar impassioned
speeches, he re-announced his government's commitment to repeal
all of Harper's laws, review all Canadian laws to ensure their
compliance with section 35 Aboriginal and treaty rights and
However, year after year, he has not taken any
steps in this direction. Therefore, when yet another announcement
was made in June 2017, this time about a Memorandum of
Understanding between the AFN and Canada, there was some
expectation of concrete deliverables. Like all other
announcements to date, the pomp and circumstance celebrating the
MOU overshadowed the fact that the only hard commitment in the
MOU was to meet with the AFN three times a year to talk.
This is the
well-choreographed dance used by Trudeau to
Canadians and Indigenous peoples believe that he is making great
strides, "absolutely historic" advancements, or engaging in a
"fundamental rethink" of the relationship with Indigenous
peoples. Sadly, the AFN has become a willing partner in this
deception. Had the AFN been doing its job, it would have advised
First Nations not to count on the speeches and announcements, but
to force hard commitments on paper. It should have been concerned
that Trudeau's legislative framework idea is yet another federal
government idea, much like the creation of two Indian Affairs
departments -- neither of which was requested or developed by
We know from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
the most recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission report that
every time Canada imposes solutions on us -- our lives get much
worse. This announcement is no exception. Despite trying to
distance himself from his father's legacy, Justin Trudeau is
covertly trying to do what his father Pierre Trudeau tried to do
In 1969, then Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau,
with his Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chretien released the
1969 White Paper on Indian Policy. The goal was to repeal the Indian Act,
dissolve Indian Affairs, eliminate Indian status, get
rid of reserves and treaties.
There was tremendous opposition to this plan by First
Nations, including protests and several official responses,
including Citizens Plus -- dubbed the Red Paper -- from First
Nations in Alberta and Wahbung: Our Tomorrows from First Nations
in Manitoba. In both of these responses, First Nations said they
did not want the Indian Act
repealed and that any amendments had
to be done with their consent. They also said that their separate
status as Indians and treaty beneficiaries were to stay. Most
importantly, they reconfirmed what First Nations have long said:
that they need their lands, resources and jurisdictions
recognized so they can rebuild their Nations. Trudeau abandoned
the 1969 White Paper, but subsequent governments have never
stopped trying to fulfil its objectives.
Now, Justin Trudeau, who did
not consult with First
nationally, has made unilateral decisions about Indigenous
peoples including changing the name of the department, creating
two new departments, limiting nation-to-nation relations to
meetings with the AFN and a new legislative framework to limit
Indigenous rights. We know that this legislation will limit
rights because of the code words used by Trudeau during his
announcement. His focus on "certainty" is a Justice Canada word
used to extinguish Indigenous rights and title. His comment that
this process is not about getting back what was lost -- is code
for no return of lands and resources or compensation for the loss
of use or benefit.
Trudeau's confirmation that no amendments would be made
the Constitution means that no substantive recognition of
Indigenous jurisdiction will be made. Finally, his focus on doing
this to avoid the courts is another way of saying that he doesn't
want any more court cases upholding our rights to land and our
right to decide what happens on our lands. Justice Minister Jody
Wilson-Raybould made it very clear that free, prior and informed
consent (FPIC) in UNDRIP "does not equate to a veto" -- a stark
contrast from Trudeau's promise that FPIC "absolutely" equates to
Trudeau's dance of deception has the potential to gut
Indigenous rights, treaties, title and jurisdiction in Canada,
especially if he is permitted to ride the pomp and circumstance
of these carefully worded, flowery announcements to royal assent
before the next election -- as he promised. Conflict is coming and
the true test of reconciliation will be over our right to say
Pam Palmater is a Mi'kmaw citizen and member of the
River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. She has been a
practicing lawyer for 18 years and is currently an Associate
Professor and the Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson
Rejection of Federal Recognition of Rights and
Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Grand
Chief Joel Abram, surrounded by chiefs from Ontario, speaks against the
Framework at a press conference September 12, 2018.
1. First Peoples on Turtle Island have inherent rights
recognized in their own Indigenous legal systems and Nations.
There are pre-existing Nation-to-Nation agreements between many
of these Nations that existed well before Europeans arrived in
Canada. The First Nations in Ontario are descendants of those
First peoples and the communities today safeguard those laws,
customs, and traditions of the pre-existing societies as
recognized in the Calder Decision of .
2. Guided by the Chiefs in Assembly, the Chiefs in
observe and recognize the self-determination efforts of all the
nations, the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe, and Lenape
peoples in protecting and exercising their inherent rights and
3. On February 14th, 2018, Prime Minister Trudeau
the government's intention to table a Recognition and
Implementation of Rights Framework and Legislation, to be passed
before the October 2019 federal election. The Rights Framework
and associated processes will only support the further
infringement of jurisdiction and rights for First Nations in
Ontario and is separate from the fulfilment of long-held Canadian
4. The federal government continues to emphasize the
supremacy of the Canadian constitutional order and Section 35
jurisprudence, which almost fully constrains any true exercise of
self-determination by First Nations and Indigenous Nations in
5. Canada is bound by legally enforceable obligations
Canadian and Indigenous law to the treaty First Nations,
especially in regard to the sharing of land, and those First
Nations continue to hold legal systems of land tenure over those
shared lands, and that must be fully understood by both Ontario
and Canada. Canada represents the Crown who we entered into
Treaties with and the "Framework" erodes not only the "Honour of
the Crown, but also the honour of our sacred Treaty
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the Chiefs in
1. Reject the Recognition and Implementation of
Rights Framework, and will take all necessary steps to prevent
the passing of any legislation, especially "opt-in" legislation
created by the federal government in 2018-2019;
2. Develop an educational strategy, in partnership with
treaty regions, about the legally enforceable obligations held by
Ontario and Canada in the region of Ontario. These Crown
obligations include understanding and legally defining the land
rights of First Nations in a fair and independent process that is
consistent with International law and the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This should be
done through an Indigenous lens, recognizing our views of the
3. Direct the Regional Chief to establish a working
give life to Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI)
thirteen Principles, and report to the Assembly of First Nation
4. Encourage like-minded First Nations to continue to
their sovereignty through our own nation-to-nation governance
structures and processes.
Rights Recognition Framework Engagement
Needs a Hard
The federal government continues to advance a deeply
flawed engagement process concerning the Rights and Recognition
Framework after significant resistance from not only Indigenous
legal and cultural experts, but First Nations from across
On other issues, we have made positive forward movement
the federal government. That's why its troubling that while they
are listening, they aren't hearing the First Nation voices and
the messages being conveyed. First Nations across Ontario are
opposed -- and do not believe this framework was made in
The Chiefs of Ontario stand by our RESOLUTION 32-18
OF FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF RIGHTS AND IMPLEMENTATION FRAMEWORK,
passed by the Chiefs in assembly at the June 2018 All Ontario
Chiefs Conference. We continue to encourage like minded First
Nations to assert their sovereignty through their own
nation-to-nation governance structures and processes.
The federal government must do a hard reset on this
so that we may examine the best way forward together. First
Nations need to be leading the efforts on anything that affects
their inherent and treaty rights. These joint principles cannot
be developed unilaterally -- this must be a collaborative
partnership with mutually agreed upon terms -- that will form a
strong foundation for our relationship going forward. We have a
real opportunity to take a hard pause and transform the current
relationship between First Nations and the federal government -- a
process to the benefit of all.
I also need to be clear that the Chiefs of Ontario do
purport to speak on behalf of or over any of the other regions.
We respect their decisions, processes and opinions on their
views. This is Ontario's point and state of opposition to the
process that has happened.
Testimony to Senate Standing Committee
on Aboriginal Peoples,
Inuit and Métis (Excerpts)
Aaron Detlor, Haudenosaunee Development Institute
[...] the Haudenosaunee would very much oppose and
object to a
characterization of them as Indigenous, Aboriginal and/or Indian. [...]
The term Aboriginal is racist, the term
Indigenous is racist and obviously the term Indian is racist. They
attempt to aggregate different groups of people into one preconceived
notion of what is easiest to manage from an
administrative perspective. This is what the Indian Act did
back in 1860s. I'm going to use the terms Aboriginal, Indigenous and
First Nations somewhat interchangeably, but I'm
going to do it with that objection noted.
[...] Beginning back into the 1600s, the Haudenosaunee
number of treaty relationships with the Crown. I'm going to refer to
the Crown as not the Government of Canada. The
Crown, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, is a different entity
from the Government of Canada. [...] the Haudenosaunee perspective,
from a historical framework, is this long treaty
relationship dating back to the two-row wampum. [...] The basic
principle of the two-row wampum is that it's a white background with
two blue solid lines running through, and there's
usually three wampum in between. The agreement was that the Crown was
going to stay in their boat and that their government was going to
govern their people, and the Haudenosaunee
would stay in their canoe and they would not attempt to colonize the
settlers. That was the agreement that went on for decades, if not
hundreds of years.
The Two-Row Wampum.
We come forward today to the process that Canada is
with respect to this quote/unquote new relationship. This new
relationship is a relationship that undermines and
denigrates sacred and solemn promises that were made vis-à-vis
the two-row wampum.
I'm just going to go through the working group
structure. As far as
I can tell, these 10 principles on the new relationship were struck by
a working group that was commissioned by the
Prime Minister. This working group was structured and struck without
any input or engagement, without any consultation. It absolutely
frustrates me and astounds me that you can say that
you're going to start a new relationship with someone and not engage or
consult with them on who is going to be steering the boat with respect
to the relationship moving forward. It's
mind-boggling from the Indigenous perspective. I want to start a new
relationship with you, and I'm going to unilaterally choose the people
who are going to make a determination on what
that relationship looks like.
The second issue is that this working group then comes
these 10 principles. I have no evidence that has been given to me or
that I've found through reasonably diligent
research that these 10 principles were ever rolled out to anyone in an
engagement or consultation process prior to their finalization.
So you've got a working group that's been established
appointed solely by the Prime Minister, and the working group has no
relationship with the Crown. The working group
then comes up with 10 principles that look to me -- I've been a lawyer
since 1996 and I've been doing negotiations and litigation with the
Department of Justice in and around land claims
for 20-plus years -- like something that just came out of DOJ. This
looks to me like the white paper was dusted off and someone got the
thesaurus out and said, "We need some new words
on how to reconstitute the municipalization of Indigenous people in
I'm going to drop down to the fourth paragraph, and
this is the
first principle: "The Government of Canada recognizes that all
relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on
the recognition and implementation of their right to
self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government."
I'm here to say that this is a falsehood approaching a
Government of Canada wants to begin a new relationship by saying
something that is a falsehood approaching a lie. The
reason I say that is because they talk about the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and then they go on to
say, "Canada's constitutional legal order recognizes
the reality that Indigenous peoples' ancestors owned and governed the
lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown's assertion of
How did the Crown get to assert sovereignty? If you're
have a nation-to-nation relationship, how does one group get to say,
"We're sovereign and you're not?" That's racism.
One group has rights, power and control that they get to exert over
another, regardless of what the other thinks about it. The
Haudenosaunee have never agreed to this. Never have the
Haudenosaunee said, "I give you the right to colonize me and turn me
into a Canadian." When did this happen? How did this happen?
This is what the Government of Canada does when they
come up with
these well-meaning principles. They perpetuate a falsehood and a lie.
In the 1780s, when the Haudenosaunee came north to what
Canada, after the American Revolution, the group that had come up
settled at two different places primarily. There
had already been a significant Haudenosaunee presence in Ottawa and
Montreal. One was Tyendinaga, where I'm from, and one was Six Nations,
near Brantford. They came up with
something in the range of 265,000 British pounds. My numbers might be
The Crown said to Joseph Brant, "We're going to take
that you have and we're going to put them in a trust fund. The money
that's coming off of your land, we're going to
lease out your land and sell some of your land and it's going to go
into a trust fund."
Joseph Brant said to them, "That's excellent. That's a
We should put this in trust for the benefit of the Haudenosaunee
people. I would like to be a trustee. I want to be a
And they put up their hands and said, "Oh, no, you are
British subject." Joseph Brant was not a British subject by the
acknowledgment of the British Crown.
So my question is: How and when do Indigenous people
subjects? How do they become Canadian citizens? When did this happen?
How did this happen? More
importantly, if I hold up the two-row wampum, or if the Cree hold up
any number of their treaties, or if any of the Indigenous people in
Canada hold up their relationship and their original
treaties with the Crown, none of them make them subjects of the Crown.
So I hold up my two-row treaty and say, "You know what,
read through your principles on a new relationship. The principle that
you claim to have sovereignty over me
impairs, interferes and otherwise infringes my right to
self-determination, which is memorialized in the two-row wampum. So
explain to me how and when you reserved to yourself the
unilateral right in a colonial manner to tell me that I have to be
you." It's the ultimate insult.
Number two, the Government of Canada recognizes that
reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution
1982. Again, a falsehood. Section 35
was originally supposed to be an open box. I trust some of you have
heard the open box, closed box theories about who has to prove what a
right is and who doesn't have to prove what a
right is. It still boggles my mind that as soon as the British Crown
arrives in North America, suddenly, as an Indigenous person, I have to
prove that I have a right to them. I don't
understand why the onus isn't reversed, why they don't have to say they
have a right. But in the mists of time somewhere, there's some doctrine
of discovery that they are relying upon --
sorry to get off track -- and where is the doctrine of discovery
mentioned in this new relationship? It's not.
They say in the first item that Canadian sovereignty is
Why? Canadian sovereignty is premised on the doctrine of discovery. The
doctrine of discovery is premised on the idea
of terra nullius. Terra nullius is premised on the
idea that Indigenous
people don't have souls and aren't people. So the only way Canada can
maintain its sovereignty is to maintain the legal
fiction that I don't have a soul, that I'm not a real person? That's
what's going on.[...]
Number two talks about reconciliation as a fundamental
section 35. That's what the Government of Canada wants section 35 to
be. The Government of Canada wants
section 35 to be about reconciliation. That's not what section 35 says.
The Supreme Court of Canada has inferred that reconciliation is one of
the primary motivations or one of the primary
directives informing an analysis on section 35, but that's not what
section 35 says. It simply says they're going to recognize rights that
are existing or that come along. The reason that they
want to infuse this idea of reconciliation is because it denies to
Indigenous people choice. It denies choice to Indigenous people to say,
"You must reconcile yourself to Canadian
sovereignty. You have no choice."
We're going to recognize rights, but we're not going to
or address the underlying falsehoods that have gotten us to where we
are, so we're essentially building this new
relationship on something that is a fiction, in its most innocuous --
and if I was skeptical and bitter and jaded after 20 years of doing
this, I would say it's a purposeful lie.
When they say that the Government of Canada -- this is
-- recognizes that the honour of the Crown guides the conduct of the
Crown and all of its dealings with
Indigenous peoples. This is not a new relationship. This is a cut and
paste from the Supreme Court of Canada. This is DOJ apparatchiks
cutting and pasting something from the Supreme
Court of Canada that is, in my opinion, empty and meaningless words.
The Government of Canada recognizes that it must uphold
of the Crown, which requires the federal government and its
departments, agencies and officials to act with
honour, integrity, good faith and fairness, while we pick the working
group that's going to decide all these issues. How the heck do you get
to honour, integrity, good faith and fairness
when the Government of Canada says, "We're going to decide who is on
the working group that is going to come up with the answers and the
solutions." It's ridiculous. It's farcical.
Number four is that the Government of Canada recognizes
Indigenous self-government is part of Canada's evolving system of
cooperative federalism and distinct orders of
government. I'm going to repeat that: "... the Government of Canada
recognizes that Indigenous self-government is part of Canada's evolving
system of cooperative federalism and distinct
...." This one sentence on this principle encapsulates Canada's new
passive-aggressive approach to colonization. We're going to recognize
that you have a right to self-government, but it's
ours. It's Canada's. It's not your right. So I'm going to say to you,
in government speak, that I am going to recognize your right to
self-government as part of Canada.
I have taken any number of choices off the table for
you, as an
Indigenous people, to actualize your aspirations, individually, clan,
nations and confederacies. I'm going to remove your
ability to self-actualize as an individual. I'm going to remove your
ability to self-actualize as a clan. I'm going to remove your ability
to self-actualize as a nation and/or as a confederacy.
And regardless of what you decide that you want based upon government
structures that have existed since time immemorial, I'm going to say
you're now part of us. That's not honest.
That's not fair. That's not equitable and it's not justified. Where is
the justification for this?
Number five: The Government of Canada recognizes that
agreements and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous
peoples and the Crown have been and are
intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and
That's not true. That is simply not true. The two-row
about reconciliation. It's not about the Haudenosaunee reconciling
themselves to Canadian sovereignty. The Nanfan
Treaty of 1701 was not about the Haudenosaunee reconciling themselves
to Canadian sovereignty. There is a famous quote after the 1701
negotiations, and it concludes -- and this is the
1701 of Port Alberni. At the same time, contemporaneously, the
Haudenosaunee were negotiating a treaty of peace in Montreal. With
respect to the British negotiations, the British
representative steps forward and says, "If you think that the
Haudenosaunee surrendered anything or agreed to British sovereignty,
you better have a good army at your back." That's what
the Crown understood and recognized. So what happened?
Number six: The Government of Canada recognizes that
engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior and
informed consent when Canada proposes
to take actions which impact them and their rights, including their
lands, territories and resources. This is reciting much of the language
that comes out of the United Nations Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
It's important to recognize how they fudged -- sorry
for using such
a technical, legal term -- the UNDRIP and the idea of consent that the
Supreme Court of Canada articulates in the
case of Delgamuukw. The Supreme Court of Canada, in Delgamuukw,
contemplate veto power to First Nations, so you actually have to get
their consent. What the Government of Canada
is doing with these fudgey words is saying, "We're aiming." Aims to
secure. What does that mean? We aim to secure, which means we don't
have to secure it. I do not have to obtain your
consent if I'm just aiming for it because maybe I'm playing lawn darts.
I'm getting close, but not that close. I gave some perfunctory words
about trying to get your consent, but I never
took it seriously. That's exactly what just occurred with Trans
I think you have to take seriously and meaningfully the
someone to say no. If you and I are in a relationship and I get to say
to you every single time, "I'll take what your
concerns are but it's always going to be my way," then that's going to
build up some resistance in you over time. You will likely get a little
irritated. What happens is that you begin to lose
track of the substantive issue of the goodness of any particular
project. You have so much pent-up angst over the fact that I just told
you it's going to be my way.
If I say to you, "Listen, I'm going to give you the
right to say
no," then you will likely not exercise that right very often. You'll
sit down with me in a much more comfortable
position, much more prepared to engage and much more confident about
your ability to articulate your needs and desires. If I continue to
say, "No, you can't," that's the problem. The
Canadian government doesn't take the idea seriously that an Indigenous
group can say no. Some of them will say yes.
On the pipeline, maybe you move the pipeline. If I said
to you, "I
want to run something through your backyard," and you tell me no, and
then I say, "Well, your neighbours over here
don't seem to mind," then you might say to me, "Well, run the whole
thing through there." That's not what's on the table, this idea of
respect and respecting your ability to say no.
[... The explanation of the 10 principles gets cut off
6 when time is called. A question and answer session follow. ...]
After the announcement [about the framework] was made
a number of Haudenosaunee representatives came up to speak to members
of government about what this new
framework was going to look like, and we asked to participate. We met
with the Department of Justice, we met with a number of entities, and
we never heard from them again. The reason
we never heard from them again is because they and the framework
indicate that they're only dealing with band governments. This
engagement process that's going on is only being
undertaken with political territorial organizations and with band
entities. The Haudenosaunee do not acknowledge that any kind of band, Indian Act entity,
is capable of representing their
interest as a confederacy or a nation. That's the technical part.
The engagement is cursory, to say the least, because
much of the
engagement that has been done, in my opinion, has been done in a
non-transparent and non-accountable fashion with
political territorial organizations that do not hold treaty or
Aboriginal rights. That's my initial statement.
Certainly there is room in reworking a legislative
accommodate these issues, but I will ask a question back to you,
senator. Why would anyone suggest that the resolution
of dealing with my right to self-determination needs to be articulated
in legislation that you pass? If I'm self-determining, why wouldn't I
pass my own legislation and you adopt it? That's
the fundamental issue here. They're trying to do heart surgery with
Band-Aids, and they have Band-Aid after Band-Aid piled up on top
without addressing fundamentally the issue of
relationship. Why would I get to legislate to you about your
self-determination? [...] I went to law school, and one of the things I
remember is something that made no sense to me. It's
called the nemo dat quod non habet principle: You can't give
what you don't have. It's a maxim that informs much of the Canadian
legal processes, from commercial law and
constitutional law. It actually goes on a little longer, but you can't
give what you don't have.
I desperately wish that the Government of Canada would
grips with that in terms of its legislative approach. You can't give
someone self-government. It's not yours. [...]
On Bill C-262 [ An Act to ensure that the laws of
Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights
of Indigenous Peoples
], first off, I'm going to
make some comments that might sound counter-intuitive to my earlier
positions because there's a lot of positive movement in the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, if it's taken seriously.
However, as an Indigenous nation, why are you putting
me at the
back of the bus? I don't want to be UNDRIP. I want a seat at the
General Assembly. Even if UNDRIP was passed in
its entirety, it is discriminatory and racist because it accepts the
Westphalian system of nation states that says that Indigenous people do
not get a place at the table. "We are going to
recognize your right to not be a full partner in an international
Article 18 (of UNDRIP, which basically says that First
Nations get to choose their own governments) says:
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in
in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives
chosen by themselves in accordance with their
own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own Indigenous
That's all well and good, and if that got implemented I
very happy, but it still doesn't give me the ability to talk to my
representative who is a member of the General
As well, if you take seriously what article 18 says, I
choose my government, and I don't know if I necessarily would choose
Canada. Maybe I do. Maybe I don't. The
Government of Canada doesn't appear to be open-minded, fair and honest
about the discussions that flow from things like article 18.
There is an increasing corporate influence. I've been
for 20 years so I know how things work. I know how Members of
Parliament make decisions, I know how MPPs make
decisions and I know how municipal governments make decisions. They
don't make decisions after talking to Indigenous people. They make
decisions based upon who is giving them
money. So let's just say it: They make decisions based upon who is
giving them money to get elected. So all of this stuff that's been
written down, all of these fancy words and these
laudable goals and aspirations, I'll say it again, it's farcical in the
face of what's really going on.
This goes to the issue of clan mothers, because the
clan mothers is often one that has a broader generational view. Until
you support broader generational views,
institutionally and structurally, you're going to have trouble getting
them to come forward to participate because their primary concern --
I'm speaking generalities and I apologize because
it's not always true. But when you have short-term decision-making
that's often fuelled by men and money, that's diametrically opposed to
what many clan mothers tell me are their
motivators in terms of decision-making.
Structurally, how do clan mothers, and/or women, for
that sake --
how do the institutions provide support for women to participate in
governance? Take, for instance, Question Period.
If a clan mother or a woman wants to participate in Question Period,
the role is for one side to get up and say something and the other side
to stand up and yell at them. [...]
Again turning back to structural, I'm not suggesting
necessarily rewrite the parliamentary rules of order, but there has to
be some way to start to have a broader imagination
about what a new relationship looks like. Going back to the framework
and going back to the principles, it has had its imagination neutered.
There's no sense of wonderment. There's no
sense of discovery. There's no sense of anticipation or of excitement.
These things that the Government of Canada is doing aren't opening up
the idea of the promise of a new and better
future. What they're doing is saying, "We're going to rest our platform
on the cold hard table of the past," and there's not much room for
women or clan mothers in that system.
Ghislain Picard, Chief, Assembly of First Nations
colleague, Chief Karen
Loran from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, who is also co-chair
of our AFNQL Elected Women for Quebec and Labrador. I felt it
important for her to join me this morning because it is very
clear to me that the perspectives of leadership from women are
very key and very important.
I also want to acknowledge the Algonquin Nation and the
that they are welcoming these proceedings on their traditional
I certainly want to more specifically acknowledge the
community of Kitigan Zibi. I believe they just had an election
this past Sunday and their chief, Jean Guy Whiteduck, has been
re-elected as leader of that community.
I am going to make my presentation in French. I know
colleague, Chief Loran, will make hers in English. Although I
have my presentation in both languages, and even though Quebec is
not represented at this table, I am still going to do it in
Once again, thank you.
The purpose of your reflection is important,
necessary, but to begin this reflection I would like to ask a
question: how can we synthesize over 500 years of history and
relationships in an exchange lasting less than two hours? In
other words, how can we discuss solutions that can restore
balance in the face of the injustices experienced by our nations,
who have never surrendered or abandoned their territories?
First and foremost, our shared history does not date
first year of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.
Rather, it is a history with many setbacks, but which, at least
initially, was one of allies and based on a nation-to-nation
relationship. The doctrine of terra nullius was not part
of the equation at the time.
History consistently reminds us of how the eradication
"Indian" problem was the aspiration of the colonizer. Our
presence in our territories had become problematic. It was an
obstacle to accessing resources and territory.
This is how the rupture of the nation-to-nation
occurred. We went from being allies to becoming undesirables on
our own lands. A problem, a serious problem that meant that the
Indian question had to find its solution in assimilation policies
and a process of settlement, to pave the way for the seizure of
our territories to the benefit of the colonizers. Not
surprisingly, for a time the Indigenous question was the
responsibility of the Department of Forestry and Mines.
Subsequently, other attacks on this relationship were
out to eliminate our relationship and our presence. The adoption
of the Indian Act -- remember that its original name was
the "Act of the Savages" -- the creation of reserves, the
carrying out of a policy of assimilation, and the implementation
of Indian residential schools are some historical examples that I
will not dwell on since they are widely documented, although they
are important to remember.
Now, attempting to reflect on the notion of a
nation-to-nation relationship in 2018 will take more time than
can be manufactured by the ambition to fix everything within a
political mandate that has a fixed duration, and which must
culminate in the fall of 2019. The openness expressed by this
government must be recognized as an opportunity, but at the same
time as a certain threat, because to us, failure is not an
option. Failure would risk driving us too far away from a
necessary perspective of reconciliation. This reconciliation,
this renewal of the relationship, so often spoke about and
desired by the Liberals, requires adequate time, and trying to
fit it into one electoral mandate is not a condition for success.
The emergence of unilaterally defined conditions for the renewal
of this relationship opens the door to the development of yet
another episode of failure and leads us to fear the worst, that
is to say, another attempt to settle the Indian question under
the pretext of reconciliation.
By definition of the federal government itself, the
Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and
renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on
recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
However, the current dialogue all too often resembles a
monologue. The proposed co-development and partnership is not in
keeping with our definition of respect and co-operation: an
imposed legislative framework, rapid-fire consultations in which
Minister Bennett is quick to set the tone, the flip-flop of Prime
Minister Trudeau on the Trans Mountain file, the multiple
"transformations" imposed on national "Indigenous" organizations
to render the provisions of the Indian
Act obsolete one by one,
surreptitiously and without even involving the primary parties
concerned. These are just a few of the examples, important
indications that represent anything but a foundation of respect,
co-operation and partnership.
One nation in Quebec, the Cree Nation (Eeyou), is a
to a modern treaty that satisfies them and which we respect,
because if it corresponds to their aspirations, we too are
satisfied. Other communities are in the process of completing a
negotiating process that has gone on for nearly 40 years; we
understand that this approach seems to match their aspirations as
well. Other nations defend their historic treaties to assert
their rights. However, we must not forget that beyond these
realities, many communities are at a standstill in their
relationship with the Government of Canada. To whom should we
attribute this uncertainty, this void?
We are the first founding peoples of the Americas and,
too often, we are reduced to the status of underdeveloped,
undereducated, and poor peoples who always ask and never give,
while we all aspire to individual and collective wellness. We do
not need pity or criticism, even less do we need racism and
discrimination, prejudice and myths that we never get free of.
What we need is true respect, true co-operation and partnership,
equality in all government systems and an equal opportunity to
flourish in our territories, to exercise our rights and customs,
to speak our languages, to be considered as allies and not
The government has unilaterally adopted 10 principles
the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples.
The government has also adopted the United Nations Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We cannot rewrite history, but
its course has definitely changed. It remains to be seen how the
government will, in fact, show its willingness to renew our
relationship by implementing this new law in all the proposed
domains, in its own way.
In Quebec, we are well aware that the government is
struggling to make progress in recognizing our Aboriginal and
treaty rights. The already fragile political relationship is
fraught with failures. We are painting a grim picture, but in the
context where the provincial authorities are trying to reproduce
a system of dependencies that has harmed and destroyed us, how
else can we see it?
Denying us access to our territories, denying us access
our resources, reducing us to being observers, leads to the
eradication of our millennial bond to our territory, the very
source of our identity, and will always remain a factor
contributing to the failure of a true nation-to-nation
Who we are as first nations has its source in our
relationship with our territories, denied to us through the
pursuit of a known ambition, that of seeing us disappear, of
integrating and assimilating us. This is exactly how this form of
cultural genocide that we know all too well is cultivated,
despite the resilience shown by our peoples.
We face enormous challenges, including in our
because we have a duty to ensure that our youth have a future
filled with hope and opportunity. We also have enormous
challenges dealing with governments that come and go election
after election. But one thing is certain, each of these
governments will find us standing in front of them, no matter the
election, the party or the term of office.
In conclusion, this reflection session raises many more
questions than answers. Suspicions as to the government's real
intentions regarding the relationship with First Nations, the
historic ambitions in place since the 1969 White Paper, seem to
be back on the agenda. What is the real plan of this
We are the first to say that things must change and
change must also come from ourselves, but how can this change
come about without true partnership? This is a question that
Christopher Sheppard, President,
I would like to begin by acknowledging the Algonquin
territory whose unceded land we are meeting on today.
I want to thank you, Madam Chair and members for the
committee, for the opportunity to visit with all of you to
discuss the new relationship between Canada and First Nations,
Inuit and Metis people on behalf of the National Association of
My name is Christopher Sheppard, I am an Inuk from
Nunatsiavut. I now live and work in St. John's, Newfoundland and
Labrador. I grew up in the Friendship Centre Movement, beginning
at the age of 19 on our youth council, and I am now President of
With our time together I would like to give you a brief
overview of the NAFC, the urban Indigenous population and the new
relationship between Canada, First Nations, Inuit and Metis
people of Canada, and to answer any questions you may have to the
best of my ability.
According to the 2016 census, more than 1.6 million
identified as Aboriginal. Of these, more than one million people
or 61.1 per cent lived in one of Canada's cities. This number is
up from approximately 623,000 in 2006, meaning that the urban
Indigenous population has increased by more than 60 per cent in
just 10 years.
Furthermore, the Indigenous youth population, including
who live in the city, are among the fastest growing population in
Canada. As the general population is aging with many baby boomers
set to retire in the very near future, young Indigenous people
are increasing expected to play a vital role in ensuring Canada's
future economic growth.
Many of today's Indigenous people migrate to urban
from reserves and northern or remote communities for a number of
reasons, including but not limited to employment, education and
improved quality of life, while others represent the second,
third and even the fourth generation of urban Indigenous people
who have only ever known life in the city.
Unfortunately, we as urban Indigenous people face
challenges. We experience racism and discrimination. We are more
likely to live in poverty, be unemployed or underemployed, and
suffer homelessness, experience violence and be affected by the
criminal justice system.
Overcoming these challenges can be a complicated and
process, one that requires various levels of support, and
sometimes this support must be individualized to ensure that
people are met where they are. This is the role of the Friendship
Centre Movement. Urban Indigenous migration has been happening
since the inception of friendship centres. This is not a new
concept, nor a new reality for friendship centres or the
As data proves, the urban Indigenous community
grow. Now is the time to recognize the impact of an inequitable
distribution of resources based on population data and an
identified need. To be clear, the resourcing has never been
adequate to properly support Indigenous people regardless of
where they live, and in a distinctions-based approach urban
Indigenous people are oftentimes invisible.
As a status-blind organization from the very beginning,
friendship centres have been community-driven, grassroots
organizations guided by volunteers in the community at every
level and serve everyone, whether they be First Nations, Inuit or
Metis. They serve as sites of reconciliation and play a vital
role in the broader community by bridging a cultural divide.
In 2015, friendship centres saw over 2.3 million client
contacts, and they provided over 1,800 different programs and
services in the areas of health, housing, education, recreation,
language, justice, employment, economic development, culture and
community wellness. Friendship centres are known for meeting
people where they are and for creating much-needed support
structures that help people move forward in their healing
journeys. They transform lives, families and communities.
While this has enabled friendship centres to be
community needs, in the current distinctions-based,
nation-to-nation atmosphere our organizations have been left out
of many important conversations around the new this relationship
between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people across
As we all move through this new approach to working
Indigenous people, what has become clear is that any previous
challenges in friendship centres receiving support and being
engaged in core areas will be compounded by friendship centres
not being included in the more complex discussions about nations.
For example, the Government of Canada announced the development
of what it calls its Recognition and Implementation of Rights
Framework and, as a result, the Department of Crown-Indigenous
Relations and Northern Affairs has recently begun its
consultation process regarding the framework.
In the past, the NAFC would have been invited to
in such a consultation process. Unfortunately, this has not been
the case. The NAFC has not received an invitation to participate
in what the department has deemed an invitation-only process.
Moreover, the new Urban Programming for Indigenous Peoples or
UPIP, which the NAFC administers to friendship centres on behalf
of the department, does not provide salary dollars to ensure that
we can engage in processes such as this one.
Funds associated with UPIP can only be spent on
directly related to the administration of the program. This means
that work, such as proposal development, partnership development
and preparing presentations such as the one I am doing right now,
must be done off the sides of our desks by staff who are paid
through project dollars that we can mesh together.
We remain hopeful that this will change, as we have a
long-awaited meeting with Minister Bennett. We hope that we will
be able to access funds to ensure that the urban Indigenous
populations can be meaningfully engaged in the process that is
Any changes and decisions made as a part of this rights
recognition framework, and particularly a distinctions-based
approach, could have real impacts in the lives of Indigenous
peoples in terms of access to equitable services. This is why
Indigenous service providers in urban areas like the Friendship
Centre Movement need to be included in this current engagement
The reason why the NAFC is here before you today is to
the legacy the Friendship Centre Movement has established is not
lost in the shuffle as this new nation-to-nation landscape
continues to emerge.
For a minute, I would like you to imagine a family of
who has just moved to Ottawa from Halifax. One of the parents is
Mi'kmaq and is registered under section 6(2) of the Indian Act,
and the other parent is non-Indigenous. As a result, neither
child is eligible to be registered. As they are new to the city,
they are in need of support to successfully start a new life.
They need to find housing. Their kids need to be registered for
school. They need furniture, and one of the parents needs to find
Where does this family access services? Would the
Nation have a service delivery infrastructure in Ottawa? If they
did, would this mean that every nation would have a similar
program and service infrastructure, or would this family access
services through the Algonquin Nation? If this were the case,
then it really wouldn't be distinctions based at all.
Who would pay for these services? Would the Algonquin
have to absorb the costs even though it likely doesn't have the
financial resources to meet the needs of its own citizens, or
would it bill it back to the Mi'kmaq Nation? If this were the
case, then the costs of administering programs and services would
rise exponentially, leaving fewer resources for actual programs
Another question that would need to be asked is: Who in
family would even be eligible to access programs and services?
After all, only one member is registered under the Indian Act.
Again, would the Algonquin Nation be able to meet the needs of
the entire family when they are likely struggling to meet the
needs of their own people?
I'll leave you with one final example from a friendship
centre that shows the opportunity to avoid some of the above
complexities when working with friendship centres, and then I'll
follow with my few recommendations.
An Indigenous woman arrives at a friendship centre,
a violent relationship. She isn't from that province. Her wish is
to go back to her home province to be with her family. What
nation she belongs to is of no concern to the friendship centre,
only her safety, and therefore preparations are made to ensure
she can get home safely to her family. Connections were made with
the friendship centre in the destination city to have someone
there when she arrived until she could be picked up by her
This is the strength of friendship centres in practice
only one of many examples of how the status-blind approach truly
supports people on the ground.
My recommendations are as follows:
1. That the federal government provide an adequate
support to friendship centres so they can continue to serve as
hubs for urban Indigenous communities;
2. That the federal government provide the NAFC and its
provincial and territorial associations with the financial
support necessary to ensure that they can work to inform policies
that affect those whom they serve;
3. That the federal government provide the NAFC and its
provincial and territorial associations with adequate funding
support to ensure that Indigenous people who live in urban
centres have the opportunity to be engaged in discussions
concerning their futures; and
4. That the Government of Canada engage with friendship
centres and their communities on issues that affect them within
the nation-to-nation context.
Francyne Joe, President, Native Women's
Association of Canada
Madam Chair, committee
members, distinguished witnesses
and guests, I am Francyne Joe, President, Native Women's
Association of Canada, and next to me is Veronica Rudyk, Policy
Adviser, Native Women's Association of Canada.
I acknowledge that we gather today on the traditional,
unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg, with special
acknowledgement to the women and their families for whom NWAC
I thank the committee for the opportunity to contribute
the study of the new relationship between Canada, First Nations,
Inuit and Metis peoples. This study is historic as it reflects
this government's commitment to a genuinely new relationship with
The Native Women's Association of Canada is a
advocate of Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. We
work to preserve Indigenous culture, achieve equality for
Indigenous women, and develop and change legislation that affects
women, girls and gender-diverse peoples as well as their
We are here to discuss the central principles of this
relationship. The main component of this framework creates a
nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and three national
Indigenous organizations [NIOs] through a permanent bilateral
This table is meant to discuss the issues affecting Indigenous
peoples today from coast to coast to coast.
As it currently stands, the nation-to-nation approach
derived from the long-standing practice for the federal
government to include NIOs in discussions about the issues
concerning Indigenous peoples. However, by prioritizing race over
other distinctions such as gender, the government has created a
hierarchy that largely excludes NWAC from negotiations and
partnership. We believe that as chosen representatives of
Indigenous women we need to be active participants in any
decision-making that could affect Indigenous women, girls,
gender-diverse peoples, and their communities. It is particularly
important for a feminist government to respect and hear the
voices of all Indigenous women.
The way the current framework is structured, gender
are treated separately from housing, employment, health,
community safety, policing, child welfare and education. In
reality, gender intersects with all of these issues and a gender
lens must be applied to analyze these issues.
In terms of recommendations, we must stress that
should be a top priority when the Government of Canada is forming
partnerships with NIOs. Our collective voices must be heard and
taken into account when making policy decisions and creating
legislation. This is particularly true for issues related to the
environment which affect us all.
Historically, we as Indigenous women have had important
as stewards of the land and water. As well, we have been vital to
the development and attainment of sustainability environments.
These practices have built communities where children grow up
with a strong identification and relationship with the
environment and are in relation to the land.
By supporting the inclusion of ancestral knowledge and
Indigenous people's effective participation in environmental
protection and climate change programs, a more comprehensive and
meaningful approach will be ensured. To support this, there is a
need for clear, cross-jurisdictional guidelines for the
maintenance and protection of Indigenous hunting, fishing,
logging and land rights.
The importance of including us as Indigenous women must
continue to be overlooked. Including an active voice from
Indigenous women allows to us take our inherent place in moving
toward Indigenous self-determination. Processes must be developed
and recognized to ensure the unique, important and integral roles
Indigenous women have provided and continue to provide in
Funding is necessary for Indigenous nations to provide
security and education for community members. Investing in
Indigenous nations and communities means investing in women and
We should note that the importance of priorities
community to community as well as among First Nations, Inuit and
Metis peoples. Our diversity and unique distinctions must be
respected throughout our full inclusion in the development,
implementation and evaluation of all action plans and future
processes. Indigenous women will then have the political space
and opportunity to balance discussions and reclaim our
traditional governing roles.
An enormous issue regarding the safety and well-being
Indigenous women is housing. Socio-economic disadvantages facing
Indigenous women and girls regularly impact housing, leaving many
Indigenous women and girls in precarious housing situations.
Women and girls are more susceptible to poverty and financial
dependence and thus are more likely to end up missing, murdered,
trafficked or targets of racialized violence.
Closing the education gap for Indigenous women will
our opportunities and provide the tools needed to succeed and be
self-reliant. Quality education is an essential human right.
There is relative importance on the success in education and
training linked to living conditions. Appropriate housing, good
health and the ability to meet physical, financial and social
needs are critical. We need to build a curriculum that accurately
reflects Indigenous history in Canada. This can be done through
the collaborative work of the federal, provincial and territorial
governments and the inclusion of Indigenous authorities.
Finally, numerous studies,
including the Royal
Aboriginal Peoples [RCAP], have confirmed that one of the leading
of violence against Indigenous women is their exclusion from
decision-making tables. Thus, the Native Women's Association of
Canada is seeking a renewed relationship with the federal
government to provide a gender lens to the federal government's
policy development and to finally fulfill RCAP'S Calls to Action.
A decision-making framework inclusive of NWAC and Indigenous
women from coast to coast to coast is a move toward achieving our
policy goals, reducing violence against Indigenous women, and
Including women in the decision-making that affects our
allows for evidence-based policy decisions and produces a better
socio-economic outcome that provides for a safer home. When women
are made to feel safer, communities are made stronger. The
well-being and advancement of all Indigenous peoples rest largely
on the strength and safety of Indigenous women, girls and
gender-diverse people. For these reasons, we must emphasize the
inclusion of Indigenous women in the nation-to-nation framework
and at all forums that impact Indigenous women's lives.
Kukstemc, meegwetch and thank you for your time.
On the National Inquiry into Murdered
Indigenous Women and Girls
National Inquiry "A Complete Waste of Time"
It Dramatically Transforms Power Structures
On November 26, Union of BC
Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Secretary Treasurer Kupki7 Judy Wilson told the National Inquiry
into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls to hold the
Canadian state, in all its forms, accountable for "gross acts of
violence, injustice, purposeful marginalization, and
After years of advocacy by grassroots women,
and UBCIC to bring this inquiry into being -- the inquiry has a
duty to challenge the systemic and root causes of the violence
faced by Indigenous women and girls. Specifically, the UBCIC
called on the Commissioners to speak truth to power and make
"bold" recommendations that give governments, the police, and
colonial structures a clear roadmap to stop the loss of life and
fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples; anything less would render the inquiry a waste.
In this statement, Kukpi7 Wilson re-emphasized a
Indigenous women and organizations have expressed repeatedly
throughout the inquiry: if no deep change comes from this
Inquiry, the shameful legacy of Canada's treatment of Indigenous
women and girls will continue. Without explicit recommendations
focused on uprooting colonial violence and state-led oppression,
the inquiry's findings will be just another report collecting
dust on a shelf.
Despite the profound
limitations of the current
Indigenous activists, organizations, families, and women are not
stalled or deterred in their pursuit of security, justice,
visibility, and power for Indigenous women and girls. Kupki7
Wilson stated: "Indigenous women and girls will not be erased; we
are strong, and we will demand justice every day, for all our
days. Our calls for justice will not be silenced with the closing
of this inquiry, but instead, this will be another platform on
which we will stand to demand justice."
The closing oral submission is reproduced in full below.
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson Oral Closing Submission
Alberta, November 26, 2018
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
1. I am Chief Judy Wilson, the Secretary-Treasurer on
Union of BC Indian Chiefs Executive.
2. I am here on behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
3. I am also a survivor. My sister was murdered 23
My mother and brother told their story at the hearings in
Vancouver, for the first time. I am here to ensure that their
stories, and the stories of others do not go silent, and that
justice is realized for everyone.
What is UBCIC?
4. The UBCIC represents First Nations in British
are dedicated to affirming and defending the inherent Title and
Rights of First Nations people.
5. The UBCIC is made up of representatives elected by
councils of BC. Currently over half the first nations in BC are
represented by UBCIC.
6. The UBCIC is the only organization of Chiefs in BC
has been granted standing in this Inquiry.
7. The UBCIC was formed in 1969 in response to the
Paper", which tried to be Canada's "final" solution to the
"Native Problem". The main goal of the White Paper was to lay out
a plan for Aboriginal Title and Rights to be extinguished, either
through treaties or through governments imposing their will.
8. True respect for aboriginal peoples requires that
inherent Title and Rights be recognized and respected without
9. Displacement of Indigenous peoples from their
lands has resulted in state controlled reserve systems,
dependency, and poverty.
10. The UBCIC advocates locally, provincially,
around the world to demand that the colonial government meet its
obligations to finally restore Indigenous people with the
security and liberty they had before being colonized.
11. Governments must take every ordinary and
step to continue the healing and reconciliation of Aboriginal
people. This includes repudiating genocidal doctrines of
discovery and superiority, and respecting our rights to our lands
and our own ways of living.
12. Currently, UBCIC is involved in the implementation
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This week we
released a paper titled "True, Lasting Reconciliation" a paper
that guides the BC government on implementing the UN Declaration.
This paper outlines steps for the government to take in
addressing its unfinished business in decolonizing our lands and
our way of life.
13. Canada has ratified 7 major UN human rights
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
b. International Covenant on Civil and
c. International Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights
d. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women
e. Convention against Torture and
Other Cruel or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
f. Convention on
the Rights of the Child
g. International Convention on Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their
14. The UBCIC will continue to make all efforts to
Canada complies with all of its international obligations.
15. The Truth and Reconciliation calls to action cannot
implemented without the UN Declaration being fully adopted and
implemented without qualification.
UBCIC and Indigenous Women and Girls
16. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he wants a
relationship with Indigenous peoples based on rights, respect,
co-operation and partnership. Mr. Trudeau has betrayed his
election-time promises to Indigenous peoples, like buying a
pipeline that crosses our beautiful Secwepemc territories without
17. Mr. Trudeau's government has taken the first
court, and gone around the will of First Nations people. We want
governments we can rely on in all cases, not just when it suits
18. On the issue of missing Indigenous women and girls,
government has not done enough.
19. The government spared no effort in colonizing our
and brutalizing our people. They used and continue to use every
legal and illegal tactic to keep our people in their colonial
courts, fighting for clean water, our land, our children. They
kidnapped our children into residential schools and now the child
welfare system. They use tremendous efforts and resources to hold
us down and prop themselves up.
20. But when we ask for help, we hear, 'that's too
expensive', 'solutions are too complex'. The government spares no
expense and effort to keep us down and erase us. Pipelines are
complex and expensive. But the government finds a way. If we are
in the new "era of reconciliation' the government must stop
making excuses and act with the same dedication they used to
21. The UBCIC's written closing submissions will focus
many issues, but today I am going to focus only on two systemic
a. police and Indigenous women and girls, and
services for Indigenous women and girls.
22. Although some reports suggest as many as 3000 women
girls have gone missing and been murdered, the data is unreliable
and incomplete. Many women and girls have not been added to these
lists. Three thousand is a gross under-estimation.
23. For years we have demanded action by government and
police to properly investigate the murders and disappearances of
Indigenous women and girls.
24. White women and girls do not worry about their
way Indigenous women and girls do.
25. I am inspired by the movements in various
that have become allies in advocacy and fellow agitators for
26. For instance, Idle No More powerfully highlighted
many ways in which our people experience discrimination,
oppression, and especially police brutality.
27. The 'Me Too' movement has highlighted the everyday
criminal treatment of women in all areas of life.
28. I stand with these movements, amplify their voices,
raise my own voice in solidarity to call for immediate change,
justice, and equality for Indigenous women and girls.
29. For far too long the lives of Indigenous women and
have been ignored. We will not stand for this anymore. I take
strength and inspiration from these movements for change. There
can be no more discussion about whether we are discriminated
against and treated unfairly. We are. And we want solutions NOW.
In fact, we wanted these solutions decades ago when we first
began calling for a national inquiry.
30. The UBCIC received standing at the Missing Women
Commission of Inquiry in BC, but refused to participate because
of a denial of just process.
Indigenous women and our organizations were
purposely excluded, denying our voices and our experiences once
31. The UBCIC has called for a national public inquiry
many of our sisters, and once again, we were shut out by the
process. We were not able to meaningfully participate.
32. We are here today, to let you the Commissioners and
Government know, that after years of advocacy, from many others,
and us to bring this Inquiry into being, this Inquiry is not
enough. We expected more, we deserved more, and we will continue
to demand more.
33. Indigenous people have no confidence in the justice
system. Be it police, the courts, or lawmakers. Whether in the
Downtown Eastside or the Highway of Tears, we have seen lawmakers
drag their heels and police turn a blind eye while women were
being murdered by the dozens.
34. It breaks my heart to think of the hundreds of
mothers, sisters and aunties that have walked highways,
riverbanks and forests looking for their daughters.
35. It is clear to me that the murders of Indigenous
and girls are not treated with respect and urgency.
36. Let me say in this forum, for you the
for the Government to hear, that Indigenous women and girls will
not be erased, that we are strong, and we will demand justice
every day, for all our days. Our calls for justice will not be
softened with the closing of this Inquiry, but instead, this will
be another platform on which we will stand to drum, sing, and
call for justice.
Empty red dresses have come to symbolize the
Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing and
the peoples' demand
for redress. Top: dresses line the steps to the parliament buildings in
alongside the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
Police and UBCIC
37. The UBCIC has worked tirelessly to educate police
to behave ethically. This is work we should not have to do.
Police treat Indigenous people as though being Indigenous is a
38. We have advocated for the appointment of an
person as the Police Complaint Commissioner, but this has not
39. We call for an end to the practice of police
investigating their own. There must be police accountability for
Indigenous people to have any faith in policing.
40. We need to look no further than the case of Cindy
to demonstrate the shameful way in which the justice system
treats Indigenous women.
41. An Edmonton jury acquitted Bradley Barton in the
death of Cindy Gladue. Her physical remains were scrutinized
inside the courtroom, which was a gross violation of her physical
and spiritual integrity, and extremely hurtful to her family, to
Indigenous women, and an affront to all.
42. The court proceedings were racist. How can we
the justice system when the highest court, the Supreme Court of
Canada agreed to hear an absurd appeal of her killer? We will be
keenly watching for their decision, but don't have high
43. We have lost many Indigenous and women and girls in
horrific ways. Robert Pickton murdered dozens of women with
police just looking on.
44. The Government called the Missing Women Commission
Inquiry, led by Wally Oppal. That Inquiry is a study on 'how NOT
to run an Inquiry.' It marginalized the very groups and people
affected by the missing women tragedy, it was plagued by scandal,
and then issued a report that found no specific fault by any
police officer, and held no one accountable for their
45. To make matters worse, recommendations from the
Commission have been largely ignored. In 2016 the Auditor General
released a report that found that the government has not been
transparent in reporting its progress on implementing
recommendations, and has only implemented the 'intent' of 8 of
the 23 recommendations. And as far as the 8 that have been
implemented, there has been very little consultation with
46. We strongly urge this Inquiry not to follow in the
footsteps of the Oppal Inquiry.
47. This Inquiry's Institutional and Expert hearings
was not adequate -- it did not properly dive into the systemic
issues in the justice system which need to shift to bring about
48. It is clear a National Inquiry into Missing and
Indigenous Women and Girls will likely not be re-called. This is
why it is important that the Commissioners are brave and bold,
and speak the truth to incite a societal shift in Canada.
Police and Women - Deep Distrust and Lack of Help
49. Given UBCIC's history with policing issues, we can
with authority that women and girls feel a deep distrust of
police. And this deep distrust is justified.
50. Indigenous women have a higher vulnerability to
simply because they live in a society that poses a risk to their
deserves pause and reflection. This statement must be understood
and internalized, especially by the police forces in BC and
51. We must ask the tough questions:
a. What makes
more risky for indigenous women?
b. Who in society is directly
responsible for this risk?
c. Who is indirectly responsible for
52. The Commissioners must answer these questions
Politics must be put aside.
53. Indigenous women live in a more dangerous world
average person and as such are deserving of the best protection
from the state and its police forces.
54. This is not the case. In fact the opposite is often
In the Report of Commissioner Oppal, he asked the question of
whether "police met their obligation to provide equal protection,
specifically to vulnerable groups." He concluded that the police
investigations of missing and murdered women and girls did not
live up to this obligation in several important ways. However,
Commissioner Oppal found that the "failings are attributable
neither to overt or intentional police bias nor to generalized
institutional bias, but to the operating of negative stereotypes
and systemic bias.
and a half years, and $10 million dollars, and all he came up
with is a defense of the police, and their deliberate racist
55. The UBCIC agrees with Commissioner Oppal on the
but not the former. Indigenous people experience discrimination
by police in every single way. I have experienced it. Believe me.
Believe the stories you have heard.
56. We can only make lasting changes if the
believe women and girls when they tell you that the police are
deeply racist at every level.
57. The Police forces in BC and Canada must lead the
in mending the deep distrust between them and Indigenous women
58. In June Brenda Lucki, the RCMP Commissioner,
to the families and communities of missing and murdered woman and
59. This apology was a welcome first step, that the
finally are recognizing their role in creating this crisis, and
are acknowledging that they need to do better. But apologies
without action and without change are meaningless.
60. We call on each of you Commissioners to speak truth
power and make recommendations that will make these statements
more than hollow words. We call on the Commissioners to make
findings that assign clear and specific responsibility for
failures, and make effective recommendations that give all of us
a road map to stop this loss of life. ANYTHING LESS THAN THIS
WOULD RENDER THIS INQUIRY A WASTE.
Lack of Support Services
61. Apart from help from police and the courts,
women need support services.
62. Supports for Indigenous women and girls, lack in
quantity, and relevancy.
63. When women and girls are seeking help from the
is because the harm they are facing, is about to be realized.
These women and girls deserve and require help and supports long
before issues in their lives reach a crisis point.
64. Indigenous women and girls need support services
indigenized and decolonized. These support services must be
driven by Indigenous people and grass roots organizations.
Government programs that fail to consult with us, result in
meaningless programs that don't work. The programs must ensure
that as women and girls move through urban and rural areas, or
through different stages of their lives, their care is
continuous, well-funded and responsive to the women and girls'
65. The Commissioners are well aware of the issues
girls face that are involved in the child welfare system. The
Commissioners are also well aware of the issues girls face as
they 'age out' of the system. This is just one issue we face, but
a good example of an issue that has been widely and thoroughly
discussed, but the government has not implemented enough
66. We have seen child welfare systems treat women and
children with no regard. We know that when Indigenous children
are in care they are at risk of serious harm. The state must STOP
taking Indigenous children from our communities. We know how to
raise our families. And any disruption in this knowledge is
because of residential schools and colonization. Support us in
re-building our ways of life. And STOP taking our children from
67. Paying white people to raise our children, and
them, is residential school by another name.
68. Support Indigenous women and children and finally
69. So what now? For some people, the final days of the
Inquiry will provide closure. But for many, it is just the
beginning. For many, if the Inquiry's report accurately reflects
the concerns of the families and the community, the report will
be the first step on the journey to healing, truth and
70. It is not enough to simply repeat our stories and
heard us. We need ACTION. If no deep change comes from this
Inquiry, the shameful legacy of Canada's treatment of Indigenous
women and girls will continue. And we have had ENOUGH.
71. The questions that we have for you today, are 'Now
- 'Where do we go from here?'
72. We ask that the Commissioners do everything they
make bold recommendations and to ensure that the recommendations
in the report are implemented in a timely, thorough and urgent
73. We ask that this Inquiry, continue to recognize the
various complex causes for marginalization, deeply consider the
role of the state that creates and maintains vulnerabilities of
Indigenous women and girls, and inspire all levels of government
to afford not just basic, but the very best quality of rights for
Indigenous women and girls.
74. And of utmost importance, to re-cast Indigenous
girls as valuable members of Canadian society that hold positions
of high regard including and as givers of life.
The Canadian state has been perpetuating violence
Indigenous women and girls since contact. This is a position that
the State has benefitted from by stealing our lands, territories
and resources, and this violence at a State and individual level
continues today. We call on this inquiry to hold the government
accountable for these gross acts of injustice and purposeful
marginalization and exclusion. Reclaim this Inquiry for people to
speak their truth; Create a safe space and clear a path for all
the people here today to feel safe; Encourage everyone to listen
to one another and continue to fight for justice.
1. Resolution 2011-29
2. Beverly Jacobs & Andrea
"Legacy of Residential Schools: Missing and Murdered Aboriginal
Women" in Marlene Brant Castello, Linda Archibald & Mike DeGagne,
eds, From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of
Residential Schools (Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2008) 121,
3. Forsaken: The report of the
Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Volume III page 56.
Reference Material from Government of
New Ministers to Support the Renewed
The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed
relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of
rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
We have worked to implement this vision along two
interrelated tracks: closing the socioeconomic gap between
Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians, and making
foundational changes to our laws, policies and operational
practices based on the recognition of rights to advance
self-determination and self-government.
We recognize that relationships built on colonial
have contributed to the unacceptable socio-economic gap. While
day-to-day realities in Indigenous communities must continue to
be addressed directly, there must also be a path to systematic
Progress is already being made on both tracks,
- We have lifted the 2 per cent funding cap and have
investment of $8.4 billion over five years towards building a
better future for Indigenous Peoples in Budget 2016 with an
additional $3.4 billion invested in Budget 2017.
- Results so far include 135 projects underway to build
refurbish schools, 6,400 homes being built or renovated, and 29
long-term drinking water advisories eliminated.
- We have placed a moratorium on the own-source revenue
policy so that self-governing nations can keep all the funds that
they generate through economic development.
- We have signed the largest self-government agreement
Canada so that the Anishnabek Nation in Ontario can take control
of its own education.
- Our government has also created new structures to
to this relationship, including permanent bilateral meetings to
make progress on shared priorities with National Indigenous
Organizations and the rights holders they represent.
- We have created the Working Group of Ministers on the
Review of Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples,
chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of
Canada. The Working Group has publicly released the Principles
that guide its vital work.
These structures are advancing important work, but
colonial structures have not helped us work coherently on both
tracks. We believe that we need to do more to be able to
construct a relationship that has never before been achieved with
In particular, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
(INAC) -- which serves as a focal point in the government's
with Indigenous Peoples -- is charged with implementing the Indian
Act, a colonial, paternalistic law. INAC was also not designed
conceived of to support and partner with Inuit and Métis
based on their unique histories, circumstances and aspirations.
To put it plainly, the level of the ambition of this government
cannot be achieved through existing colonial structures.
Over twenty years ago, the Royal Commission on
Peoples acknowledged that a new relationship with Indigenous
Peoples would require new structures. It recommended that we
dramatically improve the delivery of services while accelerating
a move to self-government and self-determination of Indigenous
Peoples. One mechanism to achieve this was the dissolution of
INAC and the creation of two new ministries to facilitate this
We agree with the Royal Commission that rights
must be an imperative, and that is why today we are announcing
the dissolution of INAC.
In its place, we will be establishing two new
Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs,
and a Department of Indigenous Services. These changes are
modelled on the recommendations of the Royal Commission and will
be finalized in cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.
The dedicated public servants at INAC work hard every
help build a better country and improve the lives of Indigenous
Peoples. This work will continue, but under new structures that
will better position the Government of Canada for success.
What we are doing today is also a next step toward
ending the Indian Act, but
the pace of transition will also require the
leadership of Indigenous communities themselves.
Today's announcement is an important step in building a
nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government
relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in
This dissolution of INAC will be staged. Today, we are
immediately creating two new Ministerial roles that will take on
distinct, but complementary objectives within the existing
- The new Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and
Affairs will guide the Government's forward-looking and
transformative work to create a new relationship with Indigenous
Peoples. A key part of the Minister's mandate will be to lead a
consultation process to determine how best to replace INAC with
the two new departments. The Minister will also be tasked with
better whole-of-government coordination on our nation-to-nation,
Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships, to
accelerate self-government and self-determination agreements
based on new policies, laws and operational practices, and to
develop a framework to advance a recognition of rights approach
that will last well beyond this government.
- The new Minister of Indigenous Services will continue
important work of improving the quality of services delivered to
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. This will include
a consistent, high quality, and distinctions-based approach to
the delivery of those services. A rigorous results and delivery
approach will be adopted, focused on improving outcomes for
Indigenous Peoples. Over time, one fundamental measure of success
will be that appropriate programs and services will be
increasingly delivered, not by the Government of Canada, but
instead by Indigenous Peoples as they move to self-government. At
the conclusion of this consultation, services currently delivered
to Indigenous Peoples by other departments shall be considered
for transfer into the new department (e.g. health delivery).
The dissolution of INAC will require legislative
In addition, formalization of Ministerial titles and
responsibilities will be finalized following Royal Assent of
proposed amendments to the Salaries
Act, which is currently
Both Ministers will be members of the Working Group of
Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies Related to
Indigenous Peoples, whose work and Principles will help guide and
support the work of both Ministers. Mandate letters for the
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and
the Minister of Indigenous Services will be released publicly in
the weeks ahead.
As mentioned today in a personal message from the Prime
Minister to INAC employees, we need to shed the administrative
structures and legislation that were conceived in another time
for a different kind of relationship. The moment is upon us to
work with even more focus with Indigenous Peoples and our
provincial and territorial partners toward making our national
journey of reconciliation a reality.
Principles Respecting the Government of Canada's
with Indigenous peoples
The Government of Canada is
committed to achieving
reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed,
nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown
relationship based on recognition of rights, respect,
co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for
Indigenous peoples have a special constitutional
with the Crown. This relationship, including existing Aboriginal
and treaty rights, is recognized and affirmed in section 35 of
the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 35 contains a full
box of rights, and holds the promise that Indigenous nations will
become partners in Confederation on the basis of a fair and just
reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.
The Government recognizes that Indigenous
laws are critical to Canada's future, and that Indigenous
perspectives and rights must be incorporated in all aspects of
this relationship. In doing so, we will continue the process of
decolonization and hasten the end of its legacy wherever it
remains in our laws and policies.
The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on
Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires transformative change in
the Government's relationship with Indigenous peoples. The UN
Declaration is a statement of the collective and individual
rights that are necessary for the survival, dignity and
well-being of Indigenous peoples around the world, and the
Government must take an active role in enabling these rights to
be exercised. The Government will fulfil its commitment to
implementing the UN Declaration through the review of laws and
policies, as well as other collaborative initiatives and actions.
This approach aligns with the UN Declaration itself, which
contemplates that it may be implemented by States through various
This review of laws and policies will be guided by
respecting the Government of Canada's Relationship with
Indigenous peoples. These Principles are rooted in section 35,
guided by the UN Declaration, and informed by the Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC)'s Calls to Action. In addition,
they reflect a commitment to good faith, the rule of law,
democracy, equality, non-discrimination, and respect for human
rights. They will guide the work required to fulfill the
Government's commitment to renewed nation-to-nation,
government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships.
These Principles are a starting point to support
end the denial of Indigenous rights that led to disempowerment
and assimilationist policies and practices. They seek to turn the
page in an often troubled relationship by advancing fundamental
change whereby Indigenous peoples increasingly live in strong and
healthy communities with thriving cultures. To achieve this
change, it is recognized that Indigenous nations are
self-determining, self-governing, increasingly self-sufficient,
and rightfully aspire to no longer be marginalized, regulated,
and administered under the Indian Act
and similar instruments.
The Government of Canada acknowledges that strong Indigenous
cultural traditions and customs, including languages, are
fundamental to rebuilding Indigenous nations. As part of this
rebuilding, the diverse needs and experiences of Indigenous women
and girls must be considered as part of this work, to ensure a
future where non-discrimination, equality and justice are
achieved. The rights of Indigenous peoples, wherever they live,
shall be upheld.
These Principles are to be read holistically and with
supporting commentary. The Government of Canada acknowledges that
the understandings and applications of these Principles in
relationships with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit
will be diverse, and their use will necessarily be contextual.
These Principles are a necessary starting point for the Crown to
engage in partnership, and a significant move away from the
status quo to a fundamental change in the relationship with
Indigenous peoples. The work of shifting to, and implementing,
recognition-based relationships is a process that will take
dynamic and innovative action by the federal government and
Indigenous peoples. These Principles are a step to building
meaning into a renewed relationship.
1. The Government of Canada recognizes that all
with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the recognition and
implementation of their right to self-determination, including
the inherent right of self-government.
This opening Principle affirms the priority of
renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and
Inuit-Crown relationships. As set out by the courts, an
Indigenous nation or rights-holding group is a group of
Indigenous people sharing critical features such as language,
customs, traditions, and historical experience at key moments in time
like first contact, assertion of Crown sovereignty, or
effective control. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
estimated that there are between 60 and 80 historical nations in
The Government of Canada's recognition of the ongoing
presence and inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as a defining
feature of Canada is grounded in the promise of section 35 of the Constitution
1982, in addition to reflecting
articles 3 and 4 of the UN Declaration. The promise mandates the
reconciliation of the prior existence of Indigenous peoples and
the assertion of Crown sovereignty, as well as the fulfilment of
historic treaty relationships.
This principle reflects the UN Declaration's call to
and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. This
includes the rights that derive from their political, economic,
and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual
traditions, histories, laws, and philosophies, especially their
rights to their lands, territories and resources.
Canada's constitutional and legal order recognizes the
reality that Indigenous peoples' ancestors owned and governed the
lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown's assertion
of sovereignty. All of Canada's relationships with Indigenous
peoples are based on recognition of this fact and supported by
the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the
negotiation and implementation of pre-Confederation, historic,
and modern treaties.
It is the mutual responsibility of all governments to
their relationships and arrangements with Indigenous peoples so
that they are based on recognition and respect for the right to
self-determination, including the inherent right of
self-government for Indigenous nations. For the federal
government, this responsibility includes changes in the operating
practices and processes of the federal government. For Indigenous
peoples, this responsibility includes how they define and govern
themselves as nations and governments and the parameters of their
relationships with other orders of government.
2. The Government of Canada recognizes that
reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution
Reconciliation is an ongoing process through which
peoples and the Crown work cooperatively to establish and
maintain a mutually respectful framework for living together,
with a view to fostering strong, healthy, and sustainable
Indigenous nations within a strong Canada. As we build a new
future, reconciliation requires recognition of rights and that we
all acknowledge the wrongs of the past, know our true history,
and work together to implement Indigenous rights.
This transformative process involves reconciling the
pre-existence of Indigenous peoples and their rights and the
assertion of sovereignty of the Crown, including inherent rights,
title, and jurisdiction. Reconciliation, based on recognition,
will require hard work, changes in perspectives and actions, and
compromise and good faith, by all.
Reconciliation frames the Crown's actions in relation
Aboriginal and treaty rights and informs the Crown's broader
relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada's
approach to reconciliation is guided by the UN Declaration, the
TRCs Calls to Action, constitutional values, and collaboration
with Indigenous peoples as well as provincial and territorial
3. The Government of Canada recognizes that the
the Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings
with Indigenous peoples.
The Government of Canada recognizes that it must uphold
honour of the Crown, which requires the federal government and
its departments, agencies, and officials to act with honour,
integrity, good faith, and fairness in all of its dealings with
Indigenous peoples. The honour of the Crown gives rise to
different legal duties in different circumstances, including
fiduciary obligations and diligence. The overarching aim is to
ensure that Indigenous peoples are treated with respect and as
full partners in Confederation.
4. The Government of Canada recognizes that
self-government is part of Canada's evolving system of
cooperative federalism and distinct orders of government.
This Principle affirms the inherent right of
as an existing Aboriginal right within section 35. Recognition of
the inherent jurisdiction and legal orders of Indigenous nations
is therefore the starting point of discussions aimed at
interactions between federal, provincial, territorial, and
Indigenous jurisdictions and laws.
As informed by the UN Declaration, Indigenous peoples
unique connection to and constitutionally protected interest in
their lands, including decision-making, governance, jurisdiction,
legal traditions, and fiscal relations associated with those
Nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and
relationships, including treaty relationships, therefore
a. developing mechanisms and
designing processes which
recognize that Indigenous peoples are foundational to Canada's
b. involving Indigenous
peoples in the effective
decision-making and governance of our shared home;
c. putting in place
effective mechanisms to support the
transition away from colonial systems of administration and
governance, including, where it currently applies, governance and
administration under the Indian Act;
d. ensuring, based on
recognition of rights, the space
the operation of Indigenous jurisdictions and laws.
5. The Government of Canada recognizes that
agreements, and other constructive arrangements between
Indigenous peoples and the Crown have been and are intended to be
acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and
This Principle recognizes that Indigenous peoples have
diverse interests and aspirations and that reconciliation can be
achieved in different ways with different nations, groups, and
This principle honours historic treaties as frameworks
living together, including the modern expression of these
relationships. In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763,
many Indigenous nations and the Crown historically relied on
treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their
relationships. Across much of Canada, the treaty relationship
between the Indigenous nations and Crown is a foundation for
ongoing cooperation and partnership with Indigenous peoples.
The Government of Canada recognizes the role that
treaty-making has played in building Canada and the contemporary
importance of treaties, both historic and those negotiated after
1973, as foundations for ongoing efforts at reconciliation. The
spirit and intent of both Indigenous and Crown parties to
treaties, as reflected in oral and written histories, must inform
constructive partnerships, based on the recognition of rights,
that support full and timely treaty implementation.
In accordance with section 35, all Indigenous peoples
Canada should have the choice and opportunity to enter into
treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements with
the Crown as acts of reconciliation that form the foundation for
ongoing relations. The Government of Canada prefers no one
mechanism of reconciliation to another. It is prepared to enter
into innovative and flexible arrangements with Indigenous peoples
that will ensure that the relationship accords with the
aspirations, needs, and circumstances of the Indigenous-Crown
relationship. The Government also acknowledges that the existence
of Indigenous rights is not dependent on an agreement and, where
agreements are formed, they should be based on the recognition
and implementation of rights and not their extinguishment,
modification, or surrender.
Accordingly, this Principle recognizes and affirms the
importance that Indigenous peoples determine and develop their
own priorities and strategies for organization and advancement.
The Government of Canada recognizes Indigenous peoples' right to
self-determination, including the right to freely pursue their
economic, political, social, and cultural development.
6. The Government of Canada recognizes that
engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free,
prior, and informed consent when Canada proposes to take actions
which impact them and their rights, including their lands,
territories and resources.
This Principle acknowledges the Government of Canada's
commitment to new nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and
Inuit-Crown relationships that builds on and goes beyond the
legal duty to consult. In delivering on this commitment, the
Government recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to
participate in decision-making in matters that affect their
rights through their own representative institutions and the need
to consult and cooperate in good faith with the aim of securing
their free, prior, and informed consent.
The Supreme Court of Canada has clarified that the
to secure consent of Indigenous peoples is strongest in the case
of Aboriginal title lands. The Supreme Court of Canada has
confirmed that Aboriginal title gives the holder the right to
use, control, and manage the land and the right to the economic
benefits of the land and its resources. The Indigenous nation, as
proper title holder, decides how to use and manage its lands for
both traditional activities and modern purposes, subject to the
limit that the land cannot be developed in a way that would
deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.
The importance of free, prior, and informed consent, as
identified in the UN Declaration, extends beyond title lands. To
this end, the Government of Canada will look for opportunities to
build processes and approaches aimed at securing consent, as well
as creative and innovative mechanisms that will help build deeper
collaboration, consensus, and new ways of working together. It
will ensure that Indigenous peoples and their governments have a
role in public decision-making as part of Canada's constitutional
framework and ensure that Indigenous rights, interests, and
aspirations are recognized in decision-making.
7. The Government of Canada recognizes that
and implementing rights is essential and that any infringement of
section 35 rights must by law meet a high threshold of
justification which includes Indigenous perspectives and
satisfies the Crown's fiduciary obligations.
This Principle reaffirms the central importance of
partnership to recognize and implement rights and, as such, that
any infringement of Aboriginal or treaty rights requires
justification in accordance with the highest standards
established by the Canadian courts and must be attained in a
manner consistent with the honour of the Crown and the objective
This requirement flows from Canada's constitutional
arrangements. Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples is
therefore mandated whenever the Government may seek to infringe a
section 35 right.
8. The Government of Canada recognizes that
reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal
relationship, developed in collaboration with Indigenous nations,
that promotes a mutually supportive climate for economic
partnership and resource development.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the rights,
interests, perspectives, and governance role of Indigenous
peoples are central to securing a new fiscal relationship. It
also recognizes the importance of strong Indigenous governments
in achieving political, social, economic, and cultural
development and improved quality of life.
This Principle recognizes that a renewed economic and
relationship must ensure that Indigenous nations have the fiscal
capacity, as well as access to land and resources, in order to
govern effectively and to provide programs and services to those
for whom they are responsible.
The renewed fiscal relationship will also enable
peoples to have fair and ongoing access to their lands,
territories, and resources to support their traditional economies
and to share in the wealth generated from those lands and
resources as part of the broader Canadian economy.
A fairer fiscal relationship with Indigenous nations
achieved through a number of mechanisms such as new tax
arrangements, new approaches to calculating fiscal transfers, and
the negotiation of resource revenue sharing agreements.
9. The Government of Canada recognizes that
reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context
of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships.
This Principle recognizes that reconciliation
including processes for negotiation and implementation of
treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, will
need to be innovative and flexible and build over time in the
context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships. These
relationships are to be guided by the recognition and
implementation of rights.
Treaties, agreements, and other constructive
should be capable of evolution over time. Moreover, they should
provide predictability for the future as to how provisions may be
changed or implemented and in what circumstances. Canada is open
to flexibility, innovation, and diversity in the nature, form,
and content of agreements and arrangements.
The Government of Canada also recognizes that it has an
active role and responsibility in ensuring the cultural survival
of Indigenous peoples as well as in protecting Aboriginal and
The Government of Canada will continue to collaborate
Indigenous peoples on changes to federal laws, regulations, and
policies to realize the unfulfilled constitutional promise of
s.35 of the Constitution Act,
10. The Government of Canada recognizes that a
distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique
rights, interests and circumstances of the First Nations, the
Métis Nation and Inuit are acknowledged, affirmed, and
The Government of Canada recognizes First Nations, the
Nation, and Inuit as the Indigenous peoples of Canada, consisting
of distinct, rights-bearing communities with their own histories,
including with the Crown. The work of forming renewed
relationships based on the recognition of rights, respect,
co-operation, and partnership must reflect the unique interests,
priorities and circumstances of each People.
The Government of Canada recognizes that:
1. All relations with Indigenous peoples need to be
the recognition and implementation of their right to
self-determination, including the inherent right of
2. Reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of
section 35 of the Constitution Act,
Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings with
4. Indigenous self-government is part of
Canada's evolving system of cooperative federalism and distinct
orders of government.
5. Treaties, agreements, and other
constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples and the
Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation
based on mutual recognition and respect.
6. Meaningful engagement
with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior, and
informed consent when Canada proposes to take actions which
impact them and their rights on their lands, territories, and
7. Respecting and implementing rights is essential and
that any infringement of section 35 rights must by law meet a
high threshold of justification which includes Indigenous
perspectives and satisfies the Crown's fiduciary obligations.
Reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal
relationship, developed in collaboration with Indigenous nations,
that promotes a mutually supportive climate for economic
partnership and resource development.
9. Reconciliation is an
ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving
10. A distinctions-based approach
is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and
circumstances of the First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit
are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented.
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