Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation: Background Content

Assembly of First Nations

December 10, 2019

2019 Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Report

Launch of 2019 Indigenous Economic Reconciliation Report Recommendations on Reconciliation and Inclusive Economic Growth for Indigenous Peoples and Canada. The report was a result of a three-part series, in 2017 and 2018, on economic reconciliation and inclusive growth in Canada called “Expanding the Circle: What Reconciliation and Inclusive Economic Growth Can Mean for Indigenous Peoples and Canada?

The report concludes that the Government of Canada must take immediate, significant, and clear steps towards closing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of The Honour of the Crown, based on the existing Aboriginal rights upheld and recognized in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Yet, reconciliation is not solely the government’s responsibility; all Canadians must be involved.

While there were common themes across the three events, some of what the Board heard at each event was unique from the perspective of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, which speaks to the importance of providing for distinctions-based approaches to economic reconciliation.

The report is divided into two main sections. The first part focuses on four key recommendations based on common themes and issues raised during the three forums:

  1. Procurement: establish a comprehensive and easy to access directory of Indigenous businesses (similar to Australia’s Supply Nation), and provide meaningful funding to Indigenous businesses to increase awareness and readiness for procurement opportunities.
  2. Access to capital: adequately fund Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs), provide AFIs loan loss protections, and devolve economic development programming to AFIs.
  3. Capacity development: put in place incentives, including funding, internships and scholarships to increase Indigenous participation in business training and certification; and encourage post-secondary education institutions to increase access to these programs for Indigenous learners.
  4. Wealth sharing: implement strategies and innovative options to increase equity positions and involvement of Indigenous peoples in resource development, and to support growth of traditional economies and participation in environmental stewardship.

November 9, 2022

Fed. Govt.

May 1, 2020

Fed. Govt.

AFN – Canada Bilateral Meetings

Implementation of initiatives begun during the previous mandate

  • Fully implement Child and Family Services and Indigenous Languages legislation
  • Develop a National Action Plan following Inquiry into MMIWG
  • Continue to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action
  • Continue support for nation re-building
  • Address critical infrastructure needs

Pan Indigenous

  • Advance co-development of legislation to implement UNDRIP
  • Establish a new National Treaty Commissioner’s Office
  • Co-develop distinctions-based health legislation
  • Establish a new national benefits-sharing framework
  • Establish a new federal procurement target
  • Framework for repatriating Indigenous cultural property and ancestral remains
  • Support transition to clean, renewable energyHost a First Ministers’ Meeting on Indigenous priorities

First Nations

  • Co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing
  • Confirm top national AFN priorities, as identified in Honouring Promises: AFN 2019 Election Priorities, and from January 2019 leaders’ meeting:
  • Environment, climate change, and conservation
  • Economic development and economic participation
  • Self-determination and self-governance
  • Closing socio-economic gaps (housing, water, health, education

January 14, 2019

Fed. Govt.

AFN – Canada Bilateral Meetings

The National Chief opened by speaking about the RCMP action on Wet’suwet’en lands the previous week. He stated that reconciliation requires that First Nations laws must be recognized, respected and upheld, and there must be room in Canada for not only common law and civil law, but recognition of First Nation law and jurisdiction too. First Nations inherent rights, Treaty rights and title were themes that flowed throughout the meeting.

Other commitments:

  • AFN and Canada to work toward a National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). Such an Action Plan would focus on implementation, which is crucial to fulfilling the principles of the UN Declaration.
  • AFN and Canada to initiate new processes to address the problems with Canada’s policies on the Inherent Right to Self- government and Comprehensive Claims, and to reinvigorate processes on Specific Claims and Additions to Reserve. It is important that Canada dismantle or change policies based on the termination of First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction so that they are based on recognition of rights, title and jurisdiction
  • Canada’s commitment to support three pieces of legislation:
    • 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, currently at second reading in the Senate;
    • A new bill on First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare, co-developed with First Nations, to be tabled in parliament within a few weeks; and
    • A new bill on Indigenous languages, co-developed with First Nations and to be tabled in parliament within a few weeks.

March 26, 2018

Fed. Govt.

AFN – Canada Bilateral Meetings

The purpose of this meeting was to discuss progress to date, as well as determine the way forward on co-developed initiatives including:

  • Closing the socio-economic gap and ensuring that investments are continually made and are needed each and every year to close the gap.
  • Working towards a new fiscal relationship that provides sufficient, predictable, and sustainable funding based on real needs and that flows from the land and resource wealth we are sharing with all Canadians.
  • Developing an Indigenous Languages Act
  • Advancing the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework. There’s a lot of uncertainty.

Because there are so many questions to be determined by First Nations rights holders. What structure do you want to use? Is it bands or reserves? Is it Treaty areas? How do you want to reconstitute our Nations and Tribes? How will the Rights Recognition Framework work with Bill C-262, the UN Declaration Bill? How will it impact our Treaties? Recognition of our inherent right to self-determination – that’s what we’ve got to get to.

  • Policing as an essential service that still needs a lot of work. In January, the government committed $291M for First Nations Policing
  • NAFTA – the three countries in these negotiations have all endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now they must honour it by including an Indigenous Peoples Chapter.
  • Pope Francis apology: The Catholic Church is the only one not to apologize. 70 per cent of children in Residential Schools were in Catholic run schools. We need him to say sorry. We also want him to make a strong statement against the Doctrine of Discovery, the Doctrine of Terra Nullius – those illegal, racist doctrines. That is how the Crown assumed jurisdiction.
  • Implementation of proposed funding in Budget 2018 was also discussed.

October 3, 2017

Fed. Govt.

AFN – Canada Bilateral Meetings

Items discussed in pre-meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau:

  • Forgiving B.C. Treaty loans and advances as part of reconciliation;
  • The need for the assumed sovereignty of the Crown to acknowledge, make space for, and respect First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction;
  • The need for the participation of all relevant Ministers in our next meeting under the Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities, set for November 20;
  • The need to discuss an approach to a legislative framework to support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that builds on Bill C-262;
  • Maintaining the priority for legislation to revitalize and rejuvenate our First Nations languages;
  • Establishing a process with First Nations for a joint review of federal laws, policies and operational practices;
  • Reminder of the need for the full $180 million to fix Child Welfare on reserve;
  • Access to capital is a major issue for First Nations – raised the potential for federal loan guarantees, government-backed bonds.

Items discussed with all Premiers in main meeting:

  • The need to ensure provinces are using transfers from the federal government for First Nations services efficiently;
  • First Nations being an underutilized workforce and Canada has a labour shortage; need to invest in human capital;
  • Provinces supporting an Indigenous Peoples Chapter in NAFTA;
  • Premiers, establishing roundtables for dialogue with First Nations about resource revenue sharing and revenue sharing, and respecting First Nations jurisdiction on taxation regimes;
  • Requesting a policy change – where Provinces are issuing permits or licences for major projects, insist that a company have a plan or strategy for procurement, employment of First Nations and revenue benefits sharing;
  • Access to capital – for example – equity ownership, government backing for bonds to back investments in First Nations ventures; government guaranteed loans;
    • Participation in the transition to a clean energy economy, balancing the environment and the economy – micro grids work;
    • Cannabis being an emerging element of the economy;
    • First Nations were shut out of the supply management system for dairy and eggs; therefore, a percentage of licenses should be allocated to First Nation entrepreneurs;
    • Support for urban reserves as zones for economic development;
  • Establishing bilateral forums with Chiefs and leaders in provinces and territories – where there isn’t one;
  • Supporting First Nations at federal-provincial tables;
  • The need for dialogue to address First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction next to the assumed sovereignty of the Crown;
  • The need to root out the Doctrine of Discovery and the concept of Terra Nullius as racist, illegal doctrines;
  • Calling for a First Ministers Meeting in 2018 on First Nations priority issues, including, the need for a National Action Plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the Crown’s consultation and consent obligations; land and resource issues and working together to address fiscal needs respecting child welfare, education, health and labour market based on need

June 12, 2017

Fed. Govt.

AFN/Canada MOU on Joint Principles

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) calls for three meetings a year to assess progress on our shared priorities and confirm directions forward. These meetings provide an important opportunity to engage with the most senior federal ministers for open and constructive dialogue and to assess progress, identify obstacles and seek ways to advance our priorities.

The purpose of the MOU is to establish a process:

  1. to discuss options to advance the priorities of First Nations;
  2. to promote opportunities for First Nations rights holders;
  3. to assess progress in rights implementation;
  4. to facilitate relationship building;
  5. to support the renewal of the Nation-to-Nation relationship between Canada and First Nations on the basis that the First Nations are holders of Treaty rights, inherent rights, title, jurisdictions and Aboriginal rights;
  6. to support the establishment of mechanisms and processes to ensure the full and meaningful enforcement and implementation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and Aboriginal title;
  7. to support the full and meaningful implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action;
  8. to support the full and meaningful implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  9. to promote cooperation between Canada and First Nations including the review, reform and development of federal laws, regulations, procedures, policies and practices that respect First Nations rights;
  10. to jointly identify measures and priorities for closing the socio-economic gap between First Nations and other Canadians
  11. To establish transparent and accountable processes to jointly communicate activities and results

June 12, 2017

Fed. Govt.

AFN/Canada MOU on Joint Principles

AFN – Canada Priorities:

Priority Response

  • Policing and community safety issues affecting First Nations; See “Justice Call to Action # 42 “Aboriginal Justice Systems”
  • Co-development of an Indigenous Languages Act to support the preservation, revitalization and strengthening of Indigenous Languages; Language and Culture. See Call to Action # 14: Aboriginal Languages Act
  • Work in partnership on measures to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including co-development of a national action plan and discussion of proposals for a federal legislative framework on implementation Canadian Governments and UNDRIP. See Call to Action # 43 and # 44
  • Implementation of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada; See Official Government updates to each of the Calls to Action throughout Indigenous Watchdog
  • Ongoing work to develop options for consideration by Chiefs-in-Assembly and federal decision-makers for a new fiscal relationship to ensure sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for First Nations governments; See Commitment to Reconciliation: Financial Commitments to Reconciliation
  • Work jointly to decolonize and align federal laws and policies with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and First Nations’ inherent and Treaty rights; See Justice Call to Action # 45 Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation
  • Dialogue and planning to identify priorities and measure progress to close the socio-economic gap between First Nations and other Canadians with a focus on First Nations education, First Nations child welfare, First Nations housing, water and infrastructure, and First Nations emergency management; See respective Calls to Action sections for Education, Child Welfare and “Other Issues” on Drinking Water Advisories, Housing
  • Priorities for a joint policy review including the Comprehensive Claims Policy, Inherent Right Policy, Additions-to-Reserve Policy and Specific Claims Policy; See “Other Issues – Treaties an dLand Claims”
  • Bill C-68: An Act to Amend the Fisheries Act See Business and Reconciliation: See Call to Action # 90
  • Bill C-69: An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts See “Other Issues- The Environment
  • Cannabis Legislation See Business and Reconciliation: See Call to Action # 90

July 25, 2017

Fed. Govt.

New Fiscal Relationship

Canada – First Nations New Fiscal Relations Working Group under the MOU put forward the following for official signature by AFN and INAC:

  • The first change allows First Nations to carry over funding from year to year. Often, First Nations had to return funds not because they weren’t needed but because there was not enough time to spend them properly. The problem is compounded by the fact that First Nations often receive funds late in the fiscal year, increasing the pressure to spend. The change reduces these problems and will also increase the certainty of resources for multi-year programs and projects. This change will take effect in the new fiscal year beginning April 1, 2018.
  • The second change deals with the federal government’s Operations and Maintenance funding policy. Under the policy, the federal government funds only a portion of the estimated costs of essential government services like emergency services or potable drinking water and First Nations are expected to fund the remaining portion. Many First Nations are already under-funded and cannot cover these costs so these essential services cannot be provided. This can cause critical problems in far too many communities. The Canada-First Nations New Fiscal Relations Working Group will work on a new approach to ensure all First Nations can provide these services and provide options in a joint report to be presented in December 2017.

The 2017 report by the Canada-First Nations New Fiscal Relations Working Group “A New Approach: Co-development of a New Fiscal Relationship Between Canada and First Nations” is available at:

July 12, 2016

Fed. Govt.

New Fiscal Relationship

The Government of Canada is committed to lifting the 2 percent funding cap for First Nations programs and working to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding to ensure the overall wellbeing of First Nations. Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to deliver on this commitment.

The MOU will start a collaborative process for Canada and First Nations to undertake a comprehensive review of the existing fiscal relationship and develop proposals and recommendations for the design of a new fiscal relationship. This work is a foundational part of renewing the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. A Joint Committee will examine the current fiscal arrangements to identify areas and elements of the existing relationship that are impeding progress in moving towards a nation-to-nation relationship. Recommendations by December 31, 2017.

September 19, 2019

Fed. Govt.

New Fiscal Relationship: “Honouring Our Ancestors by Trailblazing a Path to the Future”

Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) presented their interim report,”Honouring Our Ancestors by Trailblazing a Path to the Future“, to the National Chief and Minister of Indigenous Services Canada in June 2019. Consistent with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) resolution 24/2019, the JACFR, the AFN and ISC will engage extensively with First Nations on the report over the coming months and report back on their findings to Chiefs-in-Assembly at the AFN Annual General Assembly in July 2020.

This report describes a structure that empowers First Nation governments to resume their rightful place in governing their citizens. That begins with the full recognition and affirmation of inherent and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction, and that will require the federal and provincial Crown to act with the honour, respect and urgency demanded by such foundational change. Consistent with this view, the Committee highlights that no actions, legislation, policy changes or agreements can in any way abrogate or derogate from any of First Nations’ inherent and Treaty rights, title or jurisdiction.

“Honouring Our Ancestors” presents 24 recommendations.

January 23, 2018

Fed. Govt.

New Fiscal Relationship: Backgrounder

A New Fiscal Relationship Backgrounder: Ministry of Indigenous Services

Current Challenges

  • Government funding is often short-term, proposal and program-based, and prevents planning and flexibility to respond to local needs
  • Reporting burden; a former Auditor General has reported that communities can be required to file more than 100 reports annually to fulfill funding obligations
  • The Default Prevention and Management Policy is punitive and counterproductive.

The Path Forward

  • Predictable, long-term funding through fair transfers
  • New fiscal relationship based on mutual accountability
  • Different visions of and paths to self-determination respected
  • Indigenous-led programs and services supported by strong Indigenous institutions and governments
  • Flexibility in government responses to meet specific needs

October 30, 2018

Fed. Govt.

New Fiscal Relationship: First Nations Fiscal Management Act

The First Nations Fiscal Management Act has established a strong, framework that enables the 239 First Nations that have opted in to the Act to implement taxation and fiscal management, and access long-term financing to support economic and infrastructure development in their communities. Amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act have been developed with the fiscal institutions that operate under this Act, specifically the:

  • First Nations Tax Commission,
  • First Nations Financial Management Board, and
  • First Nations Finance Authority.

The amendments are in response to legislative reviews, Senate reports, and input from member First Nations. The amendments will introduce clearer and simplified provisions; expand access to new participants; and enable the fiscal institutions to respond to the interests of First Nations across Canada. These proposed amendments will also enable the development of regulations to allow public service-centered Indigenous organizations, such as health or education authorities, to opt into the Act. Budget 2018 provided for additional operational funding to the three institutions operating under the Act.

This funding will enable the fiscal institutions to work with more First Nations to develop their capacity and have greater access to capital. The funding will also expand the institutions’ reach across the country, making them truly national in scope by opening four regional offices across the country: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

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