Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation: Current Problems

First Nations

May 2, 2023

Fed. Govt.

‘An existential threat:’ First Nations challenge Ontario Métis self-government deal

Wabun Tribal Council goes to court over recognition of northeastern Ontario Métis community

Margaret Froh speaks at a rally.
Métis Nation of Ontario President Margaret Froh defends the self-government agreement and says First Nations and MNO should settle issues through dialogue, rather than the courts. (Métis Nation of Ontario)

CBC News: First Nations in northeastern Ontario are alleging a lack of consultation and potential violations of their rights as they ask a federal judge to cancel a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) self-government agreement signed in February.

“These agreements with the Métis Nation of Ontario have been done in the dark, without the consultation or input with any of the First Nations,” said Jason Batise, executive director of the Wabun Tribal Council, whose six member communities are advancing the case.

The Wabun Tribal Council consists of Matachewan, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Mattagami and Beaverhouse First Nations. 

Batise said the First Nations reject the asserted Métis presence in their traditional homeland, a swathe of Treaty 9 territory about the size of France, stretching from the Temiskaming area near the Ontario-Quebec border in the east to Lake Superior in the west. “For us it’s colonization 2.0, overlaying what we feel is a non-existent right to a community that was never there,” said Batise, who is a member of Matachewan First Nation. “It’s not right, and that’s why we’re doing everything we can, including this judicial review, to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

A map of First Nations territory stretching from close to Lake Superior to the Ontario-Quebec Border.
A map showing the boundaries of the Wabun Tribal Council traditional territory and member First Nations.(Wabun Tribal Council)

They applied for judicial review in Federal Court in March, alleging Canada’s self-government agreement with MNO recognizes communities that may be unable to pass the Métis rights test established by Canada’s Supreme Court. “This recognition poses an existential threat to the constitutionally protected rights of the First Nations who have used, occupied and stewarded their territory since time immemorial, consistent with their Anishinaabe laws,” the court filing says. 

“The minister’s decision to enter into the agreement was incorrect and unreasonable.” None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Communities announced in 2017

The Métis are a distinct Indigenous people with a shared culture, traditions and language who emerged in the northwest of what is now Canada in the late 1700s. The existence of Métis communities outside the northwest is contentious. In 2017, the Ontario government and the MNO announced the identification of six historic Métis communities throughout the province. One of them, the Abitibi Inland Historic Métis Community, is largely within the Wabun council area and thus the main target of the council’s ire.

A map of the Métis Nation homeland.
The map detailing the Metis homeland was adopted by the Métis National Council assembly in 2018. The communities recognized by Ontario are largely outside this map. (Manitoba Métis Federation)

According to Ontario and MNO, this Métis community developed among a scattered series of interconnected trading posts between Moose Factory on the James Bay coast in the north to the Temiskaming region in the south.

The Wabun Tribal Council commissioned its own report in response, delivered in September 2022 by University of Ottawa researcher Darryl Leroux, challenging MNO’s conclusions. Batise said the First Nations elders in the region also dispute the claims. “There were no Métis people in the Abitibi homeland,” he said. “We’re just absolutely flabbergasted by that. We don’t understand it. We don’t accept it.”

MNO says deal misunderstood

Margaret Froh, president of the MNO, said she was troubled, surprised and taken aback by the court filing. She said the historical record contains evidence of Métis families and collectives, who are often referred to as “halfbreeds,” petitioning for recognition or land and residing in the area. “There appears to be a misunderstanding and perhaps some misinformation” about what the deal does and doesn’t do, Froh said.

The deal recognizes the MNO as the Indigenous government for the Métis communities it represents, and it concerns things like citizenship and governance, she said, not land or harvesting rights as First Nations may fear. “From where I sit, I think it’s offensive that another group would suddenly want to stop us from being able to deal with those internal matters that apply only to our citizens and the communities we represent,” she said.

The agreement says that it’s not a treaty, but it commits the signatories to signing a self-government treaty that will supersede the agreement in two years.

Métis leaders grouped at a table.
Métis Nation of Alberta president Audrey Poitras, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan president Glen McCallum, and president of the Métis Nation of Ontario Margaret Froh (back row, from left to right), pose with Métis elders Norma Spice, Joseph Poitras, and Noram Fleury in Ottawa on June 27 following the signing of three updated self-government agreements. (Métis Nation of Alberta)

First Nations and the MNO should be meeting to resolve the issues among themselves through dialogue rather than fighting it out in court, Froh said. “If our conversation happens only when somebody files an application for judicial review, that doesn’t move that conversation forward at all,” she said. “All it really does, frankly speaking, is make lawyers rich.” 

Batise said he doesn’t see much to discuss. “We have no axe to grind with what we would consider legitimate Métis claims — the Red River settlements and places where they were and they can prove they had substantial and distinct communities,” he said. “Our issue is there are none in Ontario. There are none especially in the spaces that we occupy as our traditional land.”

CBC News contacted the office of the Crown-Indigenous Relations minister with an interview request on Friday but he was not made available. A departmental spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment on active litigation. 

CBC News then submitted written questions which the department declined to answer, saying only that it’s reviewing the case to determine its next steps.


Brett Forester, Reporter

Brett Forester is a reporter with CBC Indigenous in Ottawa. He is a member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario who previously worked as a journalist with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

February 22, 2023


‘This Place Felt like a Torture Chamber’

Melanie Mark resigns as an NDP MLA and raises big questions about BC politics.

Melanie Mark wore her grandfather’s moose skin coat and was supported by family members as she resigned as an MLA Wednesday. Mark and Premier David Eby answered media questions after the announcement. Photo by Andrew MacLeod.

The Tyee: Melanie Mark quit as a B.C. MLA Wednesday and shared her frustrations as the only First Nations woman elected to the legislature and to serve in cabinet.  While Mark listed many accomplishments that she’s proud of, she also said colonial institutions like the legislature and the government are resistant to change and “allergic” to doing things differently. 

“This journey has been challenging and has come at a significant personal toll,” she said in the legislature wearing a beaded moose skin coat that was her Gitxsan grandfather’s. “This place felt like a torture chamber. I will not miss the character assassination.”

Mark, 47, has represented Vancouver-Mount Pleasant since winning a byelection in 2016.

“I am not quitting,” she said, though she plans to officially step down by the end of March. “If anything, I’m standing up for myself. For the first time in my life, I’m exercising my self-determination as a single mother to put myself and my daughters first.”

After the NDP formed government in 2017 former premier John Horgan named Mark advanced education minister, later moving her to tourism, arts, culture and sport. Her list of accomplishments included the creation of the first Indigenous law school in the world, support for teaching Indigenous languages, building student housing, attracting sports events, passing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, eliminating fees for adult basic education and improving access to post-secondary education.

But it was changes to opportunities for children coming out of foster care that she was most proud of, she said. “The best thing that I ever did as a politician was create the provincial tuition waiver program so that young kids in care could have a chance — young kids like me could have a chance.”

Mark is the daughter of a Nisga’a and Gitxsan mother and a Cree, Ojibwa, French and Scottish father. Both were working class and both struggled with drug addiction and alcohol addiction, Mark said. “My dad died from an overdose in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.” Her mom, who was in the legislature Wednesday for her daughter’s speech, was homeless and struggled for many years on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and has been sober for 17 years. “She is my inspiration,” Mark said. 

“My family, like so many Indigenous families in B.C. and Canada, carry the multigenerational scars and trauma of the then Indian residential school and the current foster care system,” Mark said. Three of her grandparents attended residential schools, and she described herself as a “product of the foster care system,” attending six high schools before graduating and going to university. 

Before running for office she worked for eight years in the Office of the BC Representative for Children and Youth.  Mark noted that seven years after winning election, she is still the only First Nations woman to sit in the chamber and to serve in cabinet. “I wanted to be an MLA so I could be a strong voice for my community, the people I grew up with, and so I could be a champion for change,” she said. “I wanted to disrupt the status quo. I wanted big systems to change. In many ways, I have done what I came here to do.”

Premier David Eby said he will always remember the Nisga’a drummers at Mark’s swearing in. “For me and for my colleagues, for all of us, it was a sign that Melanie had changed this place forever just by showing up in the room,” he said.

Of course Mark went far beyond just showing up, Eby said. “She came here to get things done,” he said. “One of the things that I admire most about the member’s time here and her work is how she brought her life experience… to bear on every single job she took on in this legislative assembly.”

Opposition house leader Todd Stone said Mark had “blazed a trail” for others. “We’re all very hopeful that there will be a future where more Indigenous peoples will sit in this place and where more First Nations, Inuit and Métis people will see themselves in this house,” he said.

Adam Olsen, the Green Party’s house leader, referred to Mark as “my relative” and expressed gratitude for how she entered the legislature. “I think that it changed this place,” he said. “It created a better place for me to be brought in here when I was brought in here by my relatives as well.” 

He acknowledged what her election and role in cabinet meant. “It’s important that our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunties, our sisters, our nieces and our cousins have a place in this house and that the experience here be a welcoming and safe experience for Indigenous people, and for Indigenous women in particular.”

In explaining her reasons for leaving, Mark told reporters that she did not have an actual childhood herself and that her priority is to be available to her two daughters, who are 12 and 19. “I don’t want to leave my kids alone,” she said. “It’s not a lie that I’m divorced. I’m a single mother.”

Mark also mentioned that she was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and that her “big energy” was often misunderstood by people around her. She said she is working to understand what it means for her, but compared it to having a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes. Still wearing her grandfather’s coat, she spoke with Eby at her side. 

Youth Take the Lead in Tackling Colonialism, Injustice in Vancouver


Asked about the “torture chamber” comment, Mark said “I think the opposition are absolutely awful.”  She said women are treated worse than men in politics and that much effort goes into making them look stupid. “The nastiness from white men in here is awful. I put up with enough abuse in my life.”

The media were also hard to deal with, she said. “There was I don’t know how many efforts of work that I did that I worked really, really hard, and I definitely didn’t get the credit for it… I did way more than ruin the Royal BC Museum.” The government announced plans last year to build a new museum that better tells the story of the province’s history, but abandoned it amid sustained criticism from the opposition and in media reports. 

“The people deserve a museum and work is being done and I took seven months of being like totally annihilated over something that was my job,” Mark said. “It was my mandate from the premier to revitalize the museum. We deserve a better museum. That institution, just like this institution, is colonial and needs to be improved.”

Despite the challenges of the job, Mark said she hopes a First Nations matriarch will come forward to replace her and added that she will continue working to see that happen. That she sat in the legislature at all is a political statement, she said, a reminder that Indigenous people are still standing despite long institutional oppression. “The conditions of Indigenous people are not good,” she said. “We are over-represented in care, in jail, homelessness, you name it.”

That’s why she came to the legislature to fight, she said, adding that more people like her and more allies are needed to keep fighting for people’s rights. 

“Members of this house have heard me say that we need to paddle together, but the fact is the political environment is cut-throat and dysfunctional,” she said in the legislature. “Disrupting the status quo is about using your power for good to adjust policies that stand in the way of people living their best and healthiest lives. Future generations need us to have the guts to have their backs and fight for their rights.”

Andrew MacLeod

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at

September 26, 2022


‘We are truly sorry’: Leaders, health officials acknowledge Indigenous-specific racism in northern Manitoba’s health-care system

CTV News: Indigenous leaders and northern health officials in Manitoba say Indigenous people continue to face racism in the health-care system, and have signed a declaration committing to eliminate it.

On Monday morning leaders from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin (KIM), and the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA), met in Thompson to sign the declaration.

“Let me begin by acknowledging Indigenous-specific racism has existed and continues to be present within the Northern Health Region. On behalf of our staff, I offer a humble heartfelt apology. We are truly sorry for the harm this has caused,” said Helga Bryant, the CEO of the NRHA. “We know we all have much to learn, and in many cases to unlearn, as we embark on this journey together.”

The declaration says the three groups acknowledge racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada exists and stems from colonization, and says this leads to a loss of trust in health systems, reduced use of services, and ultimately to poorer health outcomes for Indigenous people.

It is something Pimicikamak Cree Nation Chief David Monias said he has seen within his community. “Our people are dying from things that can be prevented,” he said, adding in his first term as chief, there were 55 deaths in his community – two by suicide, four by natural causes, and the rest he said died from lack of health services.

“That’s got to stop – it has to.” He said. “We can’t live like that. Racism has to end.”

Bernice Thorassie is a client navigator with MKO and helps people access proper health-care. She said in the last year she had received 1,400 calls as of June. She shared stories of patients who came to MKO for advocacy, narrowly avoiding unnecessary amputations, or ensuring proper care is being given to their newborn babies.

She called on those working in health-care roles to learn more about the Indigenous people.”When people learn more about who we are and the extreme challenges we have lived through, you will better understand and empathize with us,” she said. “We can work together to end racism and build a safe health-care system for our children and our grandchildren.”

Manitoba’s Health Minister Audrey Gordon, who was among the officials at the signing Monday morning, said she believes the things learned in the Northern health region can be applied across the province.

“Today is not the end, there is much more work to do. We will continue to work with each other,” she said. “We want to listen and learn from Indigenous leadership in communities to acknowledge that racism exists, it does, and that changes are needed to bring about reform in our provincial health-care systems.”

As a part of the declaration, the three groups have committed to identifying and eliminating Indigenous-specific racism and will be conducting bi-annual reviews to ensure progress and accountability within the Northern Regional Health Authority.

Dr. Barry Lavallee, from KIM, said the first report is expected in six months. “The experiences of people coming into the health-care system need to be monitored as kind of a first line,” he said. “We are going to be looking at processes including developing databases that describe Indigenous patients versus non-Indigenous patients.”

He said an example of this would be monitoring whether an Indigenous child with severe asthma is offered steroids or not, compared to a non-Indigenous child.

You can read the full declaration here:

Three Partners Commit to Eliminating All Forms of Indigenous-Specific Racism in Healthcare in Northern Manitoba

March 23, 2023

Fed. Govt., MB

11 northern Manitoba First Nations declare state of emergency to urge government intervention

State of emergency to be placed indefinitely: Keewatin Tribal Council grand chief

A group of people are lined up on one side of a table. An Indigenous man wearing a headdress speaks into a microphone.
At a news conference on Thursday, Walter Wastesicoot, grand chief of the Keewatin Tribal Council, urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with crises on the 11 First Nations represented by the council. (Stephanie Cram/CBC)

CBC News: The Keewatin Tribal Council declared a regional state of emergency on Thursday afternoon to draw attention to the “dire” situations on the northern Manitoba communities and to urge immediate government action. The tribal council is made up of 11 communities, including Shamattawa First Nation and God’s Lake First Nation, which have already declared states of emergency in the last six months.

The regional state of emergency was prompted by system-wide deficiencies in public safety, health services and infrastructure, the tribal council said in a media notice. “As I’m talking right now, our people are suffering and dying,” Walter Wastesicoot, grand chief of the Keewatin Tribal Council, said at a Thursday news conference.

The deaths in the 11 communities largely involve suicide, drugs, violence and inadequate health care, which are preventable, he said, adding that the situation is becoming dire with each passing day. “This regional state of emergency that we are declaring today is going to be placed indefinitely,” he said.

The communities are dealing with crises involving housing, cost of living, employment as well as a lack of year-round roads and air service, which affect access to health care and justice.

A lack of aircraft and pilots have also caused significant court delays, leaving the communities vulnerable, Wastesicoot said. “Justice is delayed or denied and offenders are not dealt with in a timely manner,” he said. “They remain in the communities at large without adequate or any police resources available to prevent further crimes.”

The First Nations are calling for financial help from the federal and provincial governments, and recognition that they are dealing with legislated negligence and poverty, a news release issued earlier Thursday said.

A group of people speaking at a press conference are pictured.
At the press conference, chiefs of each of the affected First Nations signed a letter urging government intervention. It will be delivered to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu and Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. (CBC)

A letter calling for immediate government intervention was signed by each of the chiefs of the First Nations at the news conference, and will be delivered to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu and Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson.

Wastesicoot introduced the idea of the prime minister enacting the Emergencies Act to deal with the crises on the First Nations, but he said government officials need to be willing to meet with them, since they’ve previously taken weeks to over a month to meet with affected communities after declaring a state of emergency.

“That kind of response times to states of emergencies are not acceptable,” Wastesicoot said.

God’s Lake First Nation declared states of emergency involving suicides and a drug crisis in 2019 and 2022, and Wastesicoot said both continue to be active.

Shamattawa First Nation declared a state of emergency earlier this month in response to several recent suicides and a fire that destroyed the homes of eight families on March 9, when the community’s fire truck was in Winnipeg for repairs.

In February, a fire in Tataskweyak Cree Nation consumed an apartment building and displaced 49 people. After the fire, Chief Taralee Beardy told CBC the fire could have been prevented.  “We lost eight homes … and if we had a fire truck, we could have probably saved the whole apartment complex,” Beardy said.

The other communities in the tribal council are Barren Lands First Nation, Bunibonibee Cree Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation, Manto Sipi Cree Nation, Northlands Denesuline First Nation, Sayisi Dene First Nation, War Lake First Nation and York Factory First Nation.

Wastesicoot said use of the term “state of emergency” was used specifically because it is eye-catching. “This is a term that we are using to draw attention to the systemic racism that we face everyday,” he said.

“Canada talks about doing well by the Indigenous populations of Canada when they travel the world, yet our communities are in Third World conditions.”

December 11, 2021

BC, Fed. Govt.

24th anniversary of Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – UBCIC marks the 24th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ground-breaking Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision, which confirmed the continuing existence of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Title and Rights, contrary to provincial claims that their Title, if it had existed, had been extinguished. On December 11, 1997 the six members of the Court taking part in the judgment were unanimous in their conclusions that the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title and Rights were never extinguished by Crown occupation, and recognized Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Title as inalienable, collective rights, based on their continuing use and occupation of their territories.

Since 2019 the RCMP have used force, aggression, and intimidatory tactics against Wet’suwet’en Nation members and allies, and UBCIC notes that while the CGL pipeline has been approved by both provincial and federal governments, it has come under criticism from Amnesty International, B.C.’s Human Rights Commission and the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, who say all First Nations affected by the pipeline should give free, prior and informed consent before it can proceed.

The governments of Canada and British Columbia continue to openly ignore the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting Delgamuukw decision, greenlighting the RCMP to engage in whatever violent tactics it deems appropriate to remove peaceful land defenders from their territories. UBCIC also notes that in 2020 the governments of Canada and B.C. signed an MOU with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs which included:

  • Canada and B.C. recognize that Wet’suwet’en rights and title are held by Wet’suwet’en houses under their system of governance.
  • Canada and B.C. recognize Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title throughout the Yintah.
  • Legal recognition that the Wet’suwet’en Houses are the Indigenous governing body holding the
  • Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title in accordance with [their] lnuk Nuatden.
  • Legal recognition of Wet’suwet’en title as a legal interest in land by Canada and B.C.

The UBCIC calls on Canada and BC to uphold the landmark Delagamuukw-Gisday’wa decision and federal and provincial legislation to implement the UN Declaration, and stop any violent or discriminatory practices against Wet’suwet’en land defenders defending their unceded territories.

November 21, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

25th Anniversay of the RCAP Final Report

Prime Minister’s Office – “25th anniversary of the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples”.
The five-volume landmark document outlined 440 recommendations on Indigenous governance, nation rebuilding, lands and resources, treaties, economic development, and social policy, and called for the renewal of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and all orders of government in Canada.

“The Government of Canada established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (the Commission) in 1991, in the aftermath of the conflict at Kanehsatà:ke and Kahnawà:ke, during a time of upheaval, concern, and hope, following longstanding challenges across the country. The Commission’s comprehensive mandate was developed in consultation with national and regional Indigenous leaders and groups, and federal, provincial, and territorial elected representatives. Its mandate was to investigate the evolution of the relationship between Indigenous peoples, the Canadian government, and Canadian society as a whole, propose specific solutions to the problems that have hindered those relationships, and examine all issues it deemed relevant to Indigenous peoples in Canada. What has happened since?

The RCAP Final Report was issued 25 years ago and many of its 440 recommendations were never implemented as acknowledged by Prime Minister Trudeau who stated, “Since 1996, the Commission’s report has continued to inform the actions of successive governments to support Indigenous peoples, even if many of its recommendations have not been fully implemented.”

As of March 22, 2022, according to the Indigenous Watchdog “TRC Calls to Action Status Progress Snapshot” the federal government has completed 8 of the 76 Calls to Action for which they are either directly or jointly accountable. That is 8 completed Calls to Action in 6 ½ years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its Summary Report on June 2, 2015.

As the Prime Minister pointed out: “The report concluded that many policies pursued since the colonial period onwards had been wrong. In a country built on the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples, many government policies and societal practices have led to the systemic erosion of many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures, identities, practices, and governance structures and systems.”

25 years later, that statement still rings true. And 25 years later, First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are still waiting for substantive change to take place.

January 7, 2020

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

8 Ways to champion Human Rights

Toronto Star – Toronto Star identified eight ways that Canada can champion human rights in the 2020s, including the following:

  • First step is to adopt overdue legislation making the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Canada’s framework for rights and reconciliation. And to show we truly mean it:
    • address mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows First Nation,
    • halt construction of the Site C dam in NE British Columbia and
    • redress years of discrimination against First Nations children
  • Second, the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls has been released. Now is time to create a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, harmonized with a wider National Action Plan to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence.

In addition, two of the other 8 issues by default include Indigenous populations:

  • we are beginning to shake off the smug denial that racism is a concern in Canada. We need to move from anguished hand-wringing to meaningful action. Governments across the country should work to address racism in policing, beginning with consistent laws to ban carding and random street checks.
  • Naming the first Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise last April may help address human rights abuses by Canadian mining and other companies when they operate abroad. But that will remain an empty gesture unless the federal government grants her office the powers to conduct effective investigations. (This impacts Indigenous peoples in other countries where Canadian mining companies operate)

That’s 50% of 8 recommendations!

August 9, 2022

Fed. Govt.

A damning Parliamentary Budget Office report reveals a gaping disconnect between money spent and successful outcomes

Canada’s paternalistic mindset toward supporting Indigenous communities just doesn’t work.

A damning Parliamentary Budget Office report revealed a gaping disconnect between the government’s aspirations and the amount of money spent on the one hand, and the actual consequences on the other.

Globe & Mail: Ken Coates – McDonald-Laurier Institute

Despite a decade of dramatic increases in federal funding for Indigenous affairs, a damning report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer released in May revealed a gaping disconnect between the government’s aspirations and the amount of money spent on the one hand, and the actual consequences on the other.

Put bluntly, Canada is not getting what it is paying for – and what’s worse, the massive spending is not improving lives in Indigenous communities.

The PBO’s report on Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) summarized the situation succinctly, in the passion-free language that defines Ottawa’s civil service: “The increased spending did not result in a commensurate improvement in the ability of these organizations to achieve the goals that they had set for themselves. Based on the qualitative review the ability to achieve the targets specified has declined.”

The government can and does change up targets and metrics, making it difficult to determine actual outcomes. But given the vast expenditures, such a conclusion is tragic.

Canadians have become numb to reading about public expenditures on Indigenous peoples, much as they have to federal spending generally. Routine announcements of millions or billions of dollars for Indigenous initiatives, court settlements, compensation payments and on-reserve infrastructure have dulled many Canadians’ sensitivities. Instead, many of us have grown to see the spending of public funds as evidence of affection: If Canada spends billions on Indigenous affairs, it must mean that we care deeply about First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

But it does nothing of the sort. While headlines emphasize dollar amounts, the statistics that tell the actual story of Indigenous well-being – around employment, health, housing conditions, suicide rates, violence and imprisonment, language, cultural revitalization – are much more sombre. When spending vast sums fails to make a substantial difference in many communities, the federal response is too often to double down and spend even more, in the absence of understanding what actually works to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of long-overdue attention focused on residential schools, but the schools were just a vehicle for a broader and more pernicious force: state paternalism. And Canadian governments have revealed that they have a problem with stepping away from it.

After the Second World War, in a surge of well-intended social engineering, successive governments concluded that more intervention was the solution to Indigenous living conditions. Forced relocations, reserve housing that was substandard from the start, intrusive education, bureaucratic oversight and targeted federal programs (among other initiatives) gave the state enormous authority over Indigenous lives.

Welfare dependency, one of the greatest curses inflicted on Indigenous peoples, was an almost-inevitable result. Government payments often displaced Indigenous work, disrupted families and social relations, encouraged migration to larger centres, and asserted bureaucratic domination over communities. In the early 1950s, the number of Indigenous peoples collecting welfare in its various and emerging forms was small; by the 1970s, thousands of Indigenous families were wedded to regular government support, while also facing marginalization and discrimination if they attempted to work in the mainstream economy.

Government funding comes with multiple strings attached, not the least of which is forced adherence to federal dictates. Securing government funding also requires a great deal of precious staff time, not just in applying for grants but around reporting expenditures and outcomes. Federal priorities take precedence over Indigenous preferences, distorting community initiatives and prompting the grovelling for funds to become part of Indigenous governments’ processes. Indeed, individual dependency has become Indigenous government dependency, though many communities are resisting that transition today through creative economic development strategies.

As the Auditor-General and Parliamentary Budget Office have frequently shown, far too little attention is paid to medium- and long-term outcomes. What often matters most to the federal government is whether the money was spent on time and according to budget, even if community needs and shifting priorities would have seen the funds better spent elsewhere. As Canada has shown repeatedly over the past 40 years, governments can spend a lot of money and achieve mediocre or even terrible results – typically sparking more spending to solve those new issues, rather than fundamentally re-examining whether state funding was really needed.

Moreover, Canada’s collective management of Indigenous affairs is marked by a consistent failure to monitor the effectiveness of major cash infusions. There has been little post-hoc investigation into whether multibillion-dollar compensation packages have positive financial and social effects, and major collaboration agreements with corporations too often go unexamined; the same is true for postsecondary funding, language revitalization supports, counselling interventions, land-claims agreements and the like.

Some federal expenditures do work – college and university funding, along with modern treaties and self-government agreements, appear to have solid outcomes. But others appear to do little more than paper over continuing Indigenous crises, and worse, we don’t really know, because we don’t research them enough.

Governments are not particularly good at dealing with truly wicked problems – that is, complex and multi-dimensional issues. Canada and the global community are discovering this on climate change, to our collective dismay. The crises in Indigenous communities reflect a vast array of processes – including occupation of lands and Indigenous dispossession, racism, colonialism, assertion of cultural superiority, technological transitions, religious dominance, political marginalization and economic transformation. It is unreasonable to believe that a set of government programs, however well-funded and well-meaning, will in a short period of time address all of those highly disruptive forces.

Given the failures of state programming toward Indigenous autonomy, the country – which apparently has learned little from the residential school revelations – must listen more intently to Indigenous peoples. The message from their political leaders is simple: They need and deserve greater autonomy. Government funding must continue, or even expand, but Ottawa’s strings must be cut. Indigenous governments are best suited to defining their most urgent needs and priorities, spending the money and reporting publicly to the audience that matters most: their members. Federal bureaucracies, including but not limited to CIRNAC and ISC, need to be dramatically reconceptualized and restructured.

The predictable pushback to such a strategy would be the hoary claims that Indigenous groups are less than forthcoming in terms of financial accountability. But the reality is that few Canadians appreciate that most First Nations are extremely open about their financial affairs, and candidly discuss small details of budgets, salaries and expense accounts with members. Still, since the funds are provided by the Canadian public, a legitimate measure of accountability is required by the federal government. This could be achieved through an Indigenous auditor-general providing annual reporting to Parliament.

In clinging to its traditional approach, Ottawa could triple its Indigenous affairs spending tomorrow, and still not see a miracle turnaround in Indigenous social, cultural and economic conditions. Or it could do something much more difficult and meaningful: admit the failure of the state-driven approach of the past 70 or even 150 years, trust Indigenous communities, and transfer real authority to First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments.

Changing the core fabric of this relationship will take years, if not decades, but it is clearly time for Canada to start. Chronic problems demand dramatic, transformative approaches. Indigenous peoples know what is best for them, and are the only ones who could oversee such a successful revitalization.

Ken Coates is a distinguished fellow and director of the Indigenous Affairs program at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, and a Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan.

April 20, 2018


AFN-QL Opposition to Bill 99

Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador – In response to the decision of the Quebec Superior Court to uphold the Act respecting the exercise of the fundamental rights and prerogatives of the Québec people and the Québec State (Bill 99), the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) totally rejects the very foundations of the Quebec provincial government’s claims contained in Bill 99.

“It is ironic that, 18 years after claiming its right to self-determination in Bill 99, Quebec, which speaks of its ability to take control of its future, has made no progress in recognizing First Nations Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. Demanding for yourself what you deny to others is absurd,” says Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, who is not surprised that Indigenous issues are not considered.…Whatever they say, whatever they do, the cultures, values and philosophies of our peoples were and are fundamentally different from anything that characterizes Quebec’s dominant society.

Let us be clear and say it like it is: I am not Canadian, I am not a Quebecer, I am Innu. AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard on October 25, 2006.

June 15, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

AFN/Canada Race Race Relations Foundation poll

Assembly of First Nations – Thirteen years after the Government of Canada offered a formal apology to the survivors of the residential school system and families, 68 percent of Canadians polled still say they were either unaware of the severity of abuses at residential schools or completely shocked by it.

A poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system. “The results of the survey expose glaring gaps of knowledge and education related to Canada’s history and renew calls to re-examine questions around who should be held accountable.

  • 93 percent of Canadians are aware of the discovery of remains at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, with 58 percent Canadians following the news closely.
  • This is a slight increase (seven percent) in the number of Canadians who were closely following the news on the legacy of residential schools upon the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, nearly six years ago.
  • Despite 72 percent of Canadians being saddened by the news of the mass grave, only 10 percent of Canadians are very familiar with the history of the residential school system
  • 62 percent of Canadians believe that provincial education curricula do not include nearly enough about residential schools,
  • 65 percent believe the level of education around residential schools should increase.
  • 70 percent of survey respondents say that the framing of residential schools has been downplayed in the education system.

The majority of Canadians are unequivocal about whom should take responsibility for the damage done by the residential school system:

  • Ninety percent of respondents believe that the federal government is liable for the damage caused by residential schools, followed by the Catholic Church (81 percent) and the RCMP (80 percent).
  • Four out of five Canadians would like to see the Pope formally apologize to the survivors of residential schools. Nearly as many want the federal government to offer more funding to identify other possible mass graves at all residential school sites.

“By margins of greater than three to one, Canadians are telling us they want action on First Nations priorities,” added AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “People want to see Canada accelerate progress on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, invest in efforts to identify all unmarked graves at residential schools, and to stop fighting against our children and residential school survivors in court. Decisionmakers at all levels must heed these calls for action. These are some of the ways we can truly honour the lives of those who were so tragically lost.”

May 22, 2023


After ‘disgraceful’ remarks, First Nations leaders call on Quebec MNA to resign

NationTalk: The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is calling on a Quebec politician to step down after his “contemptuous and disgraceful” remarks during a city council meeting.

The demand comes after Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Pierre Dufour, who represents the Abitibi-Est riding, spoke when the issue of homelessness came up during city council last week in Val-d’Or, about 530 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

Dufour claimed Val-d’Or’s administration inherited a “pile of s–t,” in part due to bombshell allegations in 2015 that police officers with the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) allegedly sexually and physically assaulted Indigenous women in the community. Dufour went on to claim the Radio-Canada investigation by flagship program Enquête — which first shed light on the alleged abuse at the hands of provincial police in the community — was “full of lies.”

The investigation helped prompt a Quebec inquiry that examined relations between Indigenous communities and the provincial government. A final scathing final report by the Viens Commission called on the province to apologize to First Nations and Inuit peoples for systemic discrimination as part of 142 recommendations.

During the council meeting, Dufour also criticized the conclusions of that public inquiry.

Ghislain Picard, chief of the AFNQL, said Monday that Dufour’s comments before the council were “totally unacceptable” and have caused damage.

“It really puts a lot of doubt into the apology by his boss, by the premier, back in October of 2019 after the tabling of the Viens Commission report,” Picard said in an interview with Global News. “Whereby the premier (François Legault) has extended his hand to Indigenous peoples in this province, saying that the state has failed them.”

Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Ghislain Picard speaking at the Grand Economic Circle of Indigenous People and Quebec in Montreal, Quebec, Friday, November 26, 2021.
Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Ghislain Picard speaking at the Grand Economic Circle of Indigenous People and Quebec in Montreal, Quebec, Friday, November 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mario Beauregard

Dufour doesn’t deserve the kind of privilege or responsibility that comes with representing his riding in Quebec’s national assembly, according to Picard. “The most honourable thing for him to do at this point is to resign,” Picard said.

In the days that followed, Dufour did issue a brief statement to his Facebook page to walk back his comments. The file, he said, is “sensitive and complex.” “I expressed myself under emotion and certain words went beyond my thoughts,” Dufour wrote, adding that the situation in Val-d’Or is “worrying.”

Global News reached out to Dufour on Monday, but he has not responded to an interview request. Picard said Dufour’s initial remarks are still “inexcusable” and have eroded trust in the Legault government.

Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter in Montreal, also said she was unhappy with Dufour’s comments during the city council meeting. Dufour should be “walking into that community and making an apology to them,” she added.

“I think it’s really troubling that if you’re a person in political power to make these kind of blatant  and they are racist  remarks,” Nakuset said. “It’s not helpful at all.”

Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called on the premier to respond to address the situation and Dufour’s comments. “Those kinds of remarks are putting us backwards in our relationships with First Nations communities and those kinds of remarks are completely unacceptable in 2023,” he said.

— with files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant and The Canadian Press

May 8, 2023

Fed. Govt., MB, ON

AMC Fully Supports All Efforts of Treaty 9 First Nations to Protect Their Treaty and Traditional Territories, Including Legal Challenge of Canada – Metis Self-Government Agreement

NationTalk: Treaty One Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) supports the Wabun Tribal Council of Brunswick House First Nation, Chapleau Ojibwe First Nation, Flying Post First Nation, Matachewan First Nation, Mattagami First Nation and Beaverhouse First Nation in protecting their traditional territories.

The First Nations have filed an application for judicial review in the Federal Court of Canada based on Minister Miller’s decision to enter into the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Implementation Agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario. The First Nations contend that the Agreement was entered into without any consultation and threatens the constitutionally protected rights of the First Nations in the Wabun Tribal Council, who have exercised their rights in the traditional territories claimed by the Métis Nation of Ontario since time immemorial.

Expressing her concerns, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick stated, “It is concerning that the federal government has recognized the “Historic Métis Homeland” as an area encompassing the traditional territories of many First Nations, including the entirety of what is now the province of Manitoba. The Métis claim to territory or homeland is relatively new, benefiting from the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery, and lacks the historical significance that First Nations share with the land. There are many First Nations in Manitoba who have not received their full entitlement to reserve lands over 100 years after Treaty was entered into. Canada’s agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario sets a dangerous precedent for First Nations in Manitoba. In addition to being contrary to international law principles and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is contrary to Canada’s own United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. It now further complicates matters as Canada will have further grounds to continue to argue that it must consult with the Métis prior to finalizing their Treaty obligations to First Nations in Manitoba. This is troubling, considering that the First Nations were not consulted prior to this Agreement being entered into, and the same can happen for AMC member First Nations.”

The Notice of Application further alleges that the Minister erred in law by incorrectly conflating Métis citizens with mixed-race individuals who self-identify as Métis. The issue of indigenous identity fraud, particularly in relation to self-declaration and self-identification policies, is one that continues to hamper progress for First Nations in Manitoba.

Grand Chief Merrick concluded, “The issue of individuals self-identifying as having First Nations or indigenous heritage continues to negatively affect our First Nations citizens. People who engage in indigenous identity fraud take employment opportunities, programs, services, and financial benefits away from the systemically disadvantaged population that these opportunities were designed for. Recognition of indigenous self-identification negatively affects First Nations’ right to self-government and the ability to determine their citizenship as protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because it allows non-indigenous people to receive the benefits of being a First Nations citizen without proper recognition by the rights-holding collective. The AMC not only wholeheartedly supports Treaty 9 First Nations in their endeavours but also pledges to scrutinize the ongoing actions of the federal government and explore all available options, including court actions, to challenge any measures that may impinge upon the rights and interests of AMC First Nations.”


For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.

March 27, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Amnesty International report pans Canada’s record on Indigenous rights

Canada is ‘significantly failing’ on multiple fronts, says official with NGO in Canada

Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in September 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

CBC News: Global non-governmental organization Amnesty International is denouncing Canada’s record on Indigenous rights as it releases its latest annual analysis on the state of human rights worldwide.

In the report released on Monday, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization expresses concern that Indigenous people in Canada continue to face territorial expropriation, resource extraction without consent, widespread inequality, systemic discrimination and repression by the state.

“The rights of Indigenous peoples remain a major concern and a grave concern for us,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general for Amnesty’s Canadian branch in Ottawa, in an interview. “We see Canada significantly failing in its obligations to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples, but also to tackle the climate crisis and to fully support refugees and migrants.”

The group releases a version of the report every year, offering a snapshot of human rights conditions in countries all over the world. The 2022-23 report says that in Canada “The right to assembly was often under threat, particularly for Indigenous land defenders,” adding that “authorities failed to mitigate the climate crisis,” which also impacts Indigenous people.

Amnesty says it’s concerned about anti-Indigenous racism, reports of forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women, the persistence of long-term boil water advisories, the legacies of colonialism and the lack of access to education and health care.  It follows a similar report from the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, who said earlier this month that Indigenous people face “serious obstacles” to fully enjoying their human rights in Canada.

The international censure is “putting Canada on the world map when it comes to human rights violations, which may not be something many Canadians are used to,” said Nivyabandi, a Burundian poet who has resided in Canada since 2015. Amnesty says it’s specifically concerned about the criminalization of Wet’suwet’en members who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline, a $14.5-billion project that would carry natural gas from northeast British Columbia to an export facility on the coast.

While five of six Wet’suwet’en bands have signed on to the project, the report says the pipeline is proceeding without consent of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, who have never surrendered jurisdiction to the nation’s 22,000 square kilometre territory.  Amnesty also notes that Wet’suwet’en members are suing Coastal GasLink and the RCMP over allegations of intimidation and harassment, allegations that both have denied.

Na’Moks (John Ridsdale), a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief who opposes the project, said in an interview the report “clearly states that the democracy of this country is being weakened” by the pursuit of profit. “The government is steered by an industry — creates arms of the RCMP to support industry,” he said, referring to the Community-Industry Response Group, a unit created in 2017 to address what the RCMP calls “energy industry incidents.”

Hereditary Chief Na'moks in his traditional regalia.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’moks says his nation has never surrendered nor ceded its jurisdiction over its ancestral territory in northern B.C. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

Na’Moks, who raised the same issues with the UN envoy, said the international criticism has real consequences, pointing to Canada’s failure to secure a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020 as an example. “When they keep saying this is one of the most democratic and free countries in the world, and yet their actions aren’t proving it, the world should be told that,” said Na’Moks.

“Canada has to be held accountable.”

An ‘international lens’

In an accompanying news release, Amnesty also criticizes the federal and B.C. governments for continuing “to violate the rights of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation” by supporting construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Like Coastal GasLink, Trans Mountain has signed benefit agreements with the majority of bands along its 1,150-kilometre proposed route from Edmonton to Burnaby near Vancouver. The project has seen its expected cost soar to $30.9 billion.

The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has objected to the project since it was first proposed and, along with other groups that oppose it, has tried ultimately without success to stop it through the courts.

Rueben George gives a speech.
Rueben George, a spokesperson for the Tsleil-Waututh on the pipeline, said the First Nation will continue pressing its opposition to the Trans Mountain expansion. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Rueben George, manager of Sacred Trust, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s initiative to stop the expansion, said the nation is taking its case international after domestic routes failed. He likewise pointed to Canada’s failure to secure a seat on the UN Security Council to suggest the country’s failure to impress international human rights monitors has consequences.

“It’s not as rosy as it seems,” said George in an interview. “They pull the wool over Canadians’ eyes so that we need an international lens to look at it to give people a chance to create their opinion.”

Nivyabandi said Amnesty is urging the government to act fast and stop the trend. “What we hope to do through this report is to shed light on these major gaps that Canada has and really to push authorities to do what they have to do,” she said.

“They’ve committed to upholding human rights, and you can’t pick and choose what rights you uphold and when you do so.”

CBC News has contacted Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada seeking comment.


Brett Forester, Reporter

Brett Forester is a reporter with CBC Indigenous in Ottawa. He is a member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario who previously worked as a journalist with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

April 20, 2023

Fed. Govt., ON

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief carries strong message to United Nations on behalf of E’Dbendaagzijig

NationTalk: NEW YORK, NY (April 20, 2023) — Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe joined an international delegation including representatives from the Bay Mills Indian Community, Center for International Environmental Law, EarthRights International, and Environmental Defence Canada this week at the 22nd United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) carrying a strong message to the governments of Canada and the United States.

“As Anishinaabe people, we worry that a lack of attention to the guidance and wisdom of Indigenous people will lead to more poor policies for human health and well-being. We are proud to stand alongside our international Indigenous brothers and sisters and call for a sustainable future based on Indigenous leadership,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “It is important to engage on this international stage to monitor how state actors will use novel or complex jurisdictions, like data governance or the implementation of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), to push through agendas that serve corporations and not people.”

The UNPFII’s theme, “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach,” is befitting as First Nations across Turtle Island are impacted by the consequences of foreign policies and governments that do not align with traditional governance and encroach on both human and inherent rights. For example, the Canadian federal government continues to protect Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline, which transports millions of gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids through the heart of the Great Lakes, despite the demand to decommission from Indigenous leaders from across Turtle Island.

“Anishinaabe peoples are peoples of the Great Lakes basin. The international border creates an artificial divide between our American and Canadian families. At the United Nations, we will continue to seek clarity on the application of principles of Free, Prior, and Informed consent when it comes to state actors and Indigenous peoples that do not live within their domestic jurisdiction,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “For example, Line 5 crosses through Wisconsin and Michigan, and then terminates in Ontario. Should Canada, as a signatory to UNDRIP, be informed about the need to ensure that Indigenous bands in America must also be consulted in the creation, monitoring, and decommissioning of major energy projects? As many Anishinaabe have stated, Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe— One Anishinaabe Family — no matter if we are US federally-recognized tribes or Canadian Indian Act bands.”

Policing remains a core issue for Indigenous peoples, including the ongoing over-policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous people, 2SMMIWG concerns, and the deaths of young Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There have been a number of expert reports presented that require a strong level of commitment to implement the recommendations in order to remedy the ongoing human rights violations situation.

“We encourage the government of Canada and the province of Ontario to follow the direction given by those reports as we continue to monitor the situation and advocate for safer living conditions for our own Anishinaabe people and other Indigenous people in Thunder Bay,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “I’d like to highlight that the Ontario First Nations Police Chiefs have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on the inequitable funding of Indigenous police services. We’ve seen the value of Indigenous police forces being run for and by the community, they are more responsive and understanding of intergenerational trauma and how that leads to more Indigenous peoples being in contact with the police.”

Current data practices, both in force and draft legislation, do not align with the Anishinabek Nation sacred duty to protect, preserve, and ensure the well-being of the peoples of the seventh generation.

“We at the Anishinabek Nation are also concerned with Safeguarding Anishinabek sovereignty, possession, and jurisdiction over data, genomics, omics, and artificial intelligence,” adds Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “We are worried that data priorities that weaponize data could create further dispossession at the expense of our inherent rights.”

Grand Council Chief Niganobe also joined the Assembly of First Nations delegation for a press conference on Day 3 of the UNPFII to highlight Indigenous priorities in Canada. The delegation included: National Chief RoseAnne Archibald; Chief of Tl’etinqox First Nation Joe Alphonse; Vice Chief of Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations Aly Bear; Assembly of First Nations Youth Council Members Taylor Behn-Tsakoza & Ashley Daniels; and former Neskonlith Band Chief and former Secretary Treasurer of the Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs Judy Wilson.

The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens.  The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.  

–  30  –

For inquiries, please contact:

Laura Barrios
Communications Coordinator
Anishinabek Nation
(705) 498-1957

March 10, 2023


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Responds to Provincial Budget Announcement

NationTalk: TREATY ONE TERRITORY, MB – On March 7, 2023, Manitoba’s Finance Minister Cliff Cullen announced the $21.8 billion “Historic Help For Manitobans: Safer Streets. Healing Health Care. Stronger Communities. Opportunities Ahead,” 2023 provincial budget, which identifies projected increases in federal transfers of $1,049 and expenditures of $1,976 million.

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) stated the following:

On the development of the budget:
“It is unfortunate that, once again, AMC was not invited to participate in the development of the provincial budget 2023 The collaboration is important since the federal health and social transfers dollars are also for First Nations in Manitoba. Despite First Nations being impacted by federal-provincial deals such as the recently announced provincial health transfer and early learning and childcare, First Nations remain left out of provincial discussions and engagements. I call on all political parties to reconcile this ongoing disregard of distinct First Nations governments, our Treaty relationship with the crown, and commit to a fiscal relationship that promotes the economic and social development of First Nations in Manitoba.”

On Overall Increased Spending:
“AMC responds favourably to the provincial budget commitments for additional funding investments for health, including for people with diabetes, and additional funding investments toward post-secondary institutions. The projected increase for low-income Families, for Homelessness and Poverty strategy and other initiatives is also positive. The AMC looks forward to working with Manitoba on these issues because it impacts all Manitobans, especially First Nations.”

On Missing and Murdered Citizens of AMC Member First Nations:
“Regarding the provincial investments that address AMC member First Nations Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Men, and 2SLGBTQI+, the Provincial Government must acknowledge this matter as a national crisis by providing adequate funding and engage First Nations as a partner in the process. First Nations must be an active participant because we all share the responsibility for our missing and murdered citizens. This Provincial-First Nations approach includes developing and reinvigorating laws and legal orders to ensure that First Nations individuals, particularly women, and girls, are protected as they have not been in Canadian law and institutions charged with the mandate of public safety”.

On Advancing Reconciliation and Economic Reconciliation:
“AMC recognizes that this year’s budget sustains the Indigenous Reconciliation Initiative Fund. However, last year’s announcement for a whole-of-government approach to reconciliation ultimately remains a minimal effort toward the deliberate injustices committed upon First Nations since the inception of this province. AMC remains committed to working with the province to strengthen and improve the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund. However, it remains to be seen how Manitoba’s approach to its reconciliation fund is consistent with AMC’s position for a First Nations-distinct approach. AMC reminds the Province to review their legislation entitled Path to Reconciliation Act, in order to be consistent with respect of First Nations through meaningful engagement, understanding and action principles, and not become a pan-Indigenous approach.”

On the Failure to Provide Full Restitution of CSA Funds Unlawfully Taken from First Nations Children in Care of the Provincial CFS System:

“AMC notes that the provincial budget fails to identify an allocation for the Children Special Allowance (CSA) of over $334 million that it held back from First Nations children and youth in the provincial Child and Family Services system. In March 2023, AMC was pleased that the current provincial government did not appeal the decision that found it discriminated against First Nations children. However, we remain disappointed that the province of Manitoba has not provided restitution to First Nations children. Ironically, it stems from the 2020 provincial Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act that this obligation has not yet been fulfilled. I call on the current provincial government to immediately provide restitution of the CSA funds.”

On the Failure to Budget for a First Nations-led Solution regarding the Overrepresentation of First Nations Children in Care of the Provincial CFS System:
“Upon careful review, the provincial budget is negligent to address the ongoing crisis of escalating numbers of First Nations children in care. AMC remains disheartened and disappointed at the lack of action on resolving this national crisis, especially when we look at the overall increase in spending in areas that have historically disenfranchised and victimized our First Nations citizens and children. This year’s provincial budget follows the colonial precedent established in 1876 of silencing First Nations voices and leaving us out of important decisions affecting our citizens.”

On Creating First Nations Courts, Support to Legal Aid, and Supporting First Nations Policing and First Nations Laws and Legal Orders:
“While the details are unclear on the commitments in the budget towards justice, Legal Aid Manitoba, and policing, AMC looks forward to determining those details and working with the province of Manitoba on developing First Nations Courts and supporting First Nations policing and First Nations laws.”

Closing Comments
“Despite its omissions, the 2023 budget is a significant improvement over past years. AMC remains committed to promoting the self-determination and sovereignty of its member First Nations and working with the provincial government toward positive outcomes for AMC member Nations. We continue to ensure that member First Nations Treaties are honoured and that inherent rights are exercised per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With this provincial election budget, we can clarify all the provincial political parties’ positions on First Nations’ distinct budget needs for next year and keep the provincial government accountable to reconciliation.”


For more information, please contact:
Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

December 15, 2022

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

At this rate, Canada won’t meet Truth and Reconciliation calls until 2065, report suggests

Seven years after the TRC released its final report, Canada has much work to do, Yellowhead Institute says.

The Toronto Star: Canada has completed only 13 of 94 calls to action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, seven years after its final report, a new update shows.

“Survivors (of residential schools) are ageing, and many of them are passing away,” says Eva Jewell, the research director of Yellowhead Institute, an Indigenous-led think-tank at Toronto Metropolitan University.

“And we know that some of the ongoing structural issues that are still in place in Canada are continuing to harm yet another generation.”

The Yellowhead Institute’s report, released Thursday, is the fourth edition of its annual brief, featuring analyses from, among others, Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and Douglas Sinclair, the publisher of Indigenous Watchdog, a non-profit dedicated to monitoring and reporting on how reconciliation is advancing.

In 2022, two calls to action have been fulfilled, the institute says — 67 and 70, which both relate to Canada’s museums and archives.

At this pace, the report says, it would take about 42 years, or until 2065, to complete all the calls to action.

“It took this country over 150 years to come into being in a colonially violent way, and amending that is going to take a long time,” Jewell said.

Call to action 67 urged the Canadian Museums Association to undertake a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and to make recommendations.

Call to action 70 called for the Canadian Association of Archivists to undertake a national review of archival policies and their compliance with UNDRIP and the United Nations Joinet/Orentlicher Principles and produce a report with recommendations for a reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.

NA-TRC-YELLOWHEAD Yellowhead Update

 Uploaded by: Passafiume, Alessia

The papal apology earlier this year could have crossed call to action 58 off the list, but it fell short of expectations, the report states, as the call to action explicitly “called for an acknowledgment of the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the ‘spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children’ and for the apology to align with the 2010 apology delivered to Irish victims of abuse.”

Instead, Pope Francis placed blame on individual members of the church, which Yellowhead called a “missed opportunity” to accept responsibility for the church’s role. Plus, the call was for the apology to be made one year after the final report was issued, making it six years late.

“We do want to celebrate the success that survivors fought for, so we were willing to put that technicality aside,” said Jewell. “But that technicality is really important,” especially as survivors put their harrowing testimonies on display for nearly a decade before the TRC’s final report was released, Jewell explained.

“The fact the Pope didn’t complete it within the year says something about the lack of attention paid to survivors.”

Among the 94 calls to action are “legacy” calls to action and “reconciliation” calls to action, the former seeking to redress ongoing structural inequalities in child welfare, education, health and justice, and the latter to advance reconciliation through inclusion, education and policy.

“Despite support within Indigenous communities and calls for swift action among Canadians, there continues to be dismal progress on the kinds of Legacy Calls to Action that, if implemented, would significantly improve the quality of life for Indigenous peoples across the country,” the report reads. “Those Calls that address structural change in this country remain largely unfulfilled.”

There’s also a lack of data being released in those key areas, said Jewell.

Still, there was progress in 2022 for the advancement of reconciliation, Yellowhead says.

In October, Yellowhead wrote, NDP MP Leah Gazan urged the government to recognize what happened in residential schools as genocide, gaining unanimous consent in the House of Commons after a failed previous attempt.

And in June, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller introduced Bill C-29, the National Council for Reconciliation Act, which could fulfill call to action 53 and others afterward. Call to action 53 urges the creation of “an independent, national, oversight body with membership jointly appointed by the Government of Canada and national (Indigenous) organizations, and consisting of (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) members.”

The minister was unable to respond to a request for comment by deadline Thursday.

“We’re just not entirely sure how that’s going to roll out,” Jewell said, with the report featuring critiques of the bill from Assembly of First Nations Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed and Métis National Council president Cassidy Carron.

“While the government dragged its feet waiting for this — what we fear to be toothless — reconciliation oversight body, Indigenous Peoples are still experiencing harm every day,” Jewell said.

November 9, 2022

Fed. Govt., First Nations

BCAFN Honours Important Contributions by Indigenous Veterans

(Lheidli T’enneh Territory – Prince George, BC) – The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is grateful and honours the many First Nations in British Columbia who made significant and important contributions to Canada’s military service. Over the years, First Nations displayed incredible strength, determination, generosity, resilience and courage, and are a source of immense pride and respect for their families, communities, and all Canadians. We acknowledge the sacrifices made and remember the family and friends who lost their lives and the deep scars left on our communities with these losses.

This year, Canada Post issued a new stamp to remember the life and achievements of Sergeant Thomas George Prince, one of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous war veterans and a prominent Anishinaabe activist. He was well known for his skills and bravery and was awarded 11 medals for heroism during his military service in WWII and Korean War. His warrior spirit remained with him as he returned from overseas and continued to fight for Indigenous rights and equality. After the wars he fought, Prince struggled as a civilian as he did not qualify for Canadian armed forces veteran benefits, including veterans employment programs, veterans education support, or land purchase support for military veterans, because of his status as a First Nations member.

Discrimination against Indigenous veterans continued in Canada for decades after the Korean war. The lives of many Indigenous veterans, including Sergeant Tommy Prince, ended in despair and poverty because of policies and laws that excluded them or removed their status and rights as Indigenous peoples.

In addition, it was not until 1995 that Indigenous peoples were permitted to lay Remembrance Day wreaths at the National War Memorial to remember and honour their dead.

BCAFN recognizes the efforts and determination of First Nations veterans who demanded equality and recognition of their wartime contributions and their activism as civilians to stand against injustice as they fought for their identities and rights. They ensured that their stories and histories, previously ignored, were preserved in Canadian history and the national consciousness.

Currently, approximately 2,800 Indigenous members are enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Some also fill other military roles, such as the Canadian Rangers and army reservists, who are predominantly active in the North and on remote stretches of our east and west coasts.


Background Links:


For further information, contact: Annette Schroeter, Communications Officer, (778)281-1655

March 28, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Budget 2023 continues ‘repetitive injustice’ of underfunding First Nations, says national chief

RoseAnne Archibald welcomes money for MMIWG supports despite frustrations

Archibald address delegates wearing her AFN headdress.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, speaks during her closing address at the Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa in December. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

CBC News: The Assembly of First Nations national chief is calling the prime minister a “performative reconciliationist” and wants an economic new deal for First Nations following the delivery of a 2023 federal budget that she says continues a long-standing pattern of underfunding First Nations.

RoseAnne Archibald expressed exasperation Tuesday afternoon with what she said is a frustrating and unhealthy budgetary cycle that sees First Nations’ “reasonable” funding requests continually denied. “What we see the federal government do is chronically, intentionally underfund us, and so they’re creating this cycle of poverty,” she said in an interview following the tabling of the plan in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

“They’re perpetuating an ongoing third-world condition for many of our communities. It’s repetitive injustice. It’s a deliberate pattern of harming our communities through underfunding.”

Despite that initial reaction, Archibald welcomed the pledge of more than $100 million in Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s latest budget for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The budget also pledges:

  • $4 billion over seven years for a co-developed urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy that will help Indigenous people living outside their home communities.
  • a one-year $171-million top up for the Jordan’s Principle program, which ensures Indigenous children and youth have access to essential health and social services without delay, and further pledges
  • $827 million for Indigenous health.
  • Around $16 million over three years to help reduce the tuberculosis rates in Inuit communities. 
  • a $173-million package over five years for policy initiatives that help “return control and decision-making over the use of First Nations lands back to First Nations communities.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The spending plan otherwise emphasizes past commitments to Indigenous people, beginning its “advancing reconciliation” chapter with a checklist of prior cash pledges. Trudeau has previously promised to close the gap in infrastructure between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous communities by 2030.

Over $60B needed for housing: AFN

The AFN said in its 2023 pre-budget submission that First Nations need $63.3 billion through 2040 to bring on-reserve housing to levels comparable with Canadians. According to the document, First Nations also need $20.5 billion for general infrastructure, $4.5 billion for drinking water and wastewater, $10.2 billion for green infrastructure, and $6.9 billion for education facilities, all over five years.Archibald said if Trudeau intends to meet the 2030 infrastructure target, he needs to strike an “economic new deal” that empowers First Nations to share in the wealth taken from their lands.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed previously told the Canadian Press he hoped to see a 35-year, $75-billion commitment for infrastructure in Inuit communities.

In its pre-budget submission, the Métis National Council (MNC) requested $97 million for Métis businesses, $893 million for a health benefits program and $1.17 billion for development of a Métis education program.

The Manitoba Métis Federation, which withdrew from the MNC in 2021, issued a statement Tuesday welcoming the $4 billion for the new urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy. “We look forward to working with our federal partners to make this happen,” said the statement, which didn’t comment on any other aspect of the budget.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) called for “a baseline level of $15 billion annually” to support Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.

The association denounced the budget in a news release Tuesday evening, decrying the lack of cash to address the rates of violence, over-incarceration and economic marginalization Indigenous women face in Canada. “This year’s budget doesn’t surprise us at all. Year after year, the budgets have been consistently disappointing,” said NWAC CEO Lynne Groulx in the release.

“With words but no actions, this government continues to show Canadians that Indigenous women simply are not a priority.”


Brett Forester, Reporter

Brett Forester is a reporter with CBC Indigenous in Ottawa. He is a member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario who previously worked as a journalist with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

December 21, 2022


By ignoring the duty to consult First Nations, three Canadian premiers show their true colours

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, left, and Ontario Premier Doug Ford hold a joint news conference in Toronto, on Oct. 29, 2018. CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE CANADIAN PRESS


Sacred law binds Anishinabeg to safeguard the land, water, four-legged creatures and each other. It is our duty to make sure the planet is protected for future generations.

There are 634 First Nations throughout the country we now call Canada, including 133 here in Ontario. Each nation is different, with its own laws, governance and ways of being, but we do share commonalities: the Indigenous laws that establish First Peoples as protectors of the Earth.

But this work has proved nearly impossible over the course of our relationship with Canada, which has been marked by violations of treaties and the rights set out in the country’s own Constitution.

Three provincial governments have recently shown just how deep this disrespect runs.

In November, Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan government introduced the Saskatchewan First Act, which asserts the province’s “exclusive constitutional jurisdiction over natural resources.” In doing so, it signalled its willingness to ignore Section 35 of the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms “Aboriginal and treaty rights” and obliges the Crown to consult First Nations when these rights could be adversely affected. While the government claims it will not abrogate these rights, the power grab has been enough to spur members of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to threaten to widespread blockades.

In the similar pursuit of autonomy from the federal government, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s Sovereignty Act passed earlier this month, after just two weeks of debate. Bizarrely, she defended her motivations by comparing Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa to that of First Nations under the yoke of the Indian Act, a statement for which she half-heartedly apologized, “if it was taken that way.” Onion Lake Cree Nation has already filed a lawsuit alleging that the legislation is “contrary to the spirit and intent” of Treaty 6, and chiefs in both Saskatchewan and Alberta have said they were not consulted before either bills were introduced.

In Ontario, meanwhile, the Doug Ford government passed Bill 23 – the More Homes Built Faster Act – in November, just a month after it was introduced. Despite efforts by First Nations chiefs to meet with Housing Minister Steve Clark first, the bill passed without Indigenous consultation. The audacity of Bill 23 builds on the sneakyomnibus Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, which was passed in the summer of 2020 in less than two weeks with basically zero consultation. That law eviscerated the need for any environmental assessments to take place on ecologically sensitive areas, which are home to endangered species, and has effectively allowed for the bulldozing of northern Ontario’s carbon storehouses in order to quickly develop the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region.

Both pieces of legislation reduced First Nations’ input to the merely performative. Bill 23 also removes requirements for public meetings on certain planning matters and the right to appeal certain planning decisions, meaning community members wouldn’t be able to challenge decisions made on developing land and natural areas.

Mr. Ford, Ms. Smith and Mr. Moe have all claimed at various points that reconciliation is important, but that sentiment seems laughable. It is apparent that they simply do not care about the rules of law built by Canada’s system that they were elected to uphold. Instead, these premiers are behaving like ridiculous, greedy children, choosing to be willfully blind about federalism and Canada’s self-professed creed of peace, order and good government.

By ignoring their duty to consult First Nations, their governments have shown their true colonial colours. First Nations are sovereign nations, as Section 35 enshrines, and they should be treated as such. Canada is a nation, after all, only because of the treaties that were signed.

Mr. Ford, in particular, has consistently ignored his province’s treaty obligations. His government continues to refuse to provide the necessities of life as outlined in Treaty #9. It refuses to settle the 1850 Robinson-Huron Treaty annuity case, even though both the Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal have ruled against the provincial and federal governments. And recently, more than 7,000 acres of land were suddenly removed from Greenbelt protection areas; investigations have shown that key parcels are owned by developers who have made large donations to Mr. Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Mr. Ford clearly feels it is necessary to get rid of ecologically sensitive wetlands and forests in order to alleviate a housing crisis in Ontario. Sure: Who needs wetlands anyway? Let’s just fill them in, so we can bring on higher risks of flash floods, forest fires, unsafe water and disease, along with a scorching hot planet.

First Nations are not stakeholders or lobbyists. We are the caretakers of the land for all who live on it. We don’t just deserve respect; respecting us is the law. Canada’s governments appear to be breaking it.

May 9, 2023

Fed. Govt., ON

Canada accused of stonewalling in court challenge to Métis Nation of Ontario self-government deal

Federal government withholds documents, MNO wants to have case dismissed

A close-up of Marc Miller.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller leaves a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on May 2. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

CBC News: The Canadian government is being accused of stonewalling in a court challenge by the First Nations of the Wabun Tribal Council against a recently signed Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) self-government agreement.

Lawyers for Crown-Indigenous Relations are refusing to release internal documents tied to the deal, derailing the Wabun Tribal Council’s request for court disclosure, while the MNO says it plans to try and get the case dismissed, according to letters filed in court last week. “This is just another example of Canada doing things in secret,” said Wabun Tribal Council executive director Jason Batise on Tuesday.

The council represents Matachewan, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Mattagami and Beaverhouse First Nations in northeast Ontario. They applied for judicial review of the MNO agreement in March, disputing the asserted presence of Métis communities in their homeland.

A map of First Nations territory stretching from close to Lake Superior to the Ontario-Quebec Border.
A map showing the boundaries of the Wabun Tribal Council traditional territory and member First Nations.(Wabun Tribal Council)

As part of the case, the First Nations asked Crown-Indigenous Relations to hand over all material considered or created by minister Marc Miller, his representatives or his predecessors concerning the Feb. 24 agreement, including all documents and communications. But Canada’s lawyers refused, arguing the documents are “privileged and confidential,” protected by settlement and negotiation privilege or subject to cabinet confidence, according to a May 1 letter sent to the Federal Court in Toronto.

The Justice Department argues the document request is “sweeping” and “overly broad,” and that First Nations “are not in any way impacted” by the deal, which is limited to MNO governance and not land or harvesting rights, a contention Batise rejects. “Miller’s in some sort of a fantasy land thinking that this is just about internal governance matters with the Métis,” he said. “There is a duty to consult with First Nations on things that impact them. This has a clear and very lasting impact on First Nations rights, and we need to know.”

Miller acknowledged the concerns around land rights in brief comments to reporters after a cabinet meeting Tuesday in Ottawa. “The last thing we want to see is Indigenous communities being pitted against other Indigenous communities because of actions Canada took in the past,” he said.

Despite that, and while noting the situation “is fraught with some uncertainty,” he pledged to stay the course on the deal, which includes ratifying it through legislation. “We have a duty to recognize the legitimate right of Métis governments to govern themselves,” he said. “This is their right to do so, and that will be enshrined in legislation.”

MNO wants to have challenge tossed

Meanwhile, in a letter to the court also dated May 1, the MNO’s lawyer says it plans to try and have the case dismissed on similar grounds. The MNO argues the deal, because it commits Canada to passing implementation legislation, is outside the court’s jurisdiction.

The MNO also says the First Nations lack legal “standing” to challenge its internal self-government matters “or to effectively disprove Métis rights.” MNO President Margaret Froh has blamed “misinformation” for the mounting resistance and called the denial of Métis communities in Ontario “deeply offensive.”

“Ontario has been the home to Métis communities before Canada became Canada and before Ontario became a province,” Froh said in an emailed statement last week. “These Métis communities continue to exist today. To suggest otherwise is to ignore historic facts.”

Margaret Froh speaks at a rally.
Métis Nation of Ontario president Margaret Froh says Ontario has been the home to Métis communities before Canada and Ontario were created. (Métis Nation of Ontario)

The Ontario government and the MNO announced the identification of six new historic Métis communities throughout the province in 2017 through a joint research project. In response, the Wabun Tribal Council commissioned a September 2022 independent review by University of Ottawa researcher Darryl Leroux, which challenged MNO’s conclusions.

Similarly in March 2023, the Robinson Huron Treaty group representing 21 Anishinaabe bands in the upper Great Lakes released its own review of the MNO’s research, calling it questionable and “propelled by politics and not by sound research practice.”

On Monday, the Robinson Huron chiefs joined other First Nations leaders denouncing the deal and calling on Canada to hit the brakes on the proposed legislation. “We cannot sit idly by while the settler government continues to discuss and deal with groups claiming Indigenous ancestry without our consent,” said Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers in the group’s release.

This follows a similar statement from Grand Council Treaty #3 in northwestern Ontario last week, which called itself “extremely concerned” by the situation. The Wabun Tribal Council also has the backing of the Chiefs of Ontario umbrella organization, representing more than 130 First Nations, which voiced support last year.

Batise said the council’s members are ready for a prolonged battle — if that’s what it comes to. “If Canada is willing to take this to the Supreme Court, so be it,” he said. “Our communities are prepared to accept that fight.”


Brett Forester, Reporter

Brett Forester is a reporter with CBC Indigenous in Ottawa. He is a member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario who previously worked as a journalist with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

October 31, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Canada’s attempts to change the Indian Act without adequate consultation must stop!

NationTalk: On October 21, 2022, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs (Assembly) was made aware that the Government of Canada is intending to make changes to the Indian Act.  This information was brought to their attention by a third-party, not by the Department of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

The Assembly is frustrated and angered, that ISC would attempt to make changes to policies that impact Indigenous people in Canada, without proper consultation of the people whose lives are directly impacted by these amendments. This goes against the promises of working towards reconciliation and Articles 18 and 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People – which Canada said they would uphold with the passing of Bill C-15.  The deadline for comment imposed by ISC is November 1, 2022.

“Not properly engaging our communities and then pushing through legislative changes on such a restrictive timeline is wrong and disrespectful,” said Chief Sidney Peters, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. “Canada is only furthering the colonized approach that they should be working harder to move away from. This is an unfortunate step backwards in the work towards Reconciliation and the promise to build a Nation-to-Nation relationship.”

The Assembly believes reform to the Indian Act (1985) is necessary for reconciliation to take place, but simply reforming legislation that was originally intended to remove and limit the Rights of Indigenous people, and assimilate Indigenous people to settler-colonial citizenship, will always uphold colonial notions.  Meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities is required to identify a legislative path forward which upholds Indigenous Rights, upholds the Honour of the Crown, and Canada’s fiduciary duty to Indigenous communities.

“Canada is making legislative changes that could directly impact the lives of our members and impact how we operate our communities. We must be part of those decisions.  It is up to us to fight for our people, and we’re going to do that,” said Chief Annie Bernard-Daisley, Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs.

At no time has Canada upheld the Honour of the Crown, nor the Duty to Consult, with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia on their proposed legislative amendments to the Indian Act. Further, this engagement process was inaccessible and inadequately communicated.

The Assembly is demanding that Canada upholds their Crown obligations and undertake formal consultation, pursuant to the Terms of Reference for a Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Consultation Process immediately.

August 17, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Canada’s takeover of First Nations finances left a legacy of substandard homes and contaminated water

NationTalk: Canada’s National Observer: Gull Bay First Nation is finally starting to recover.

For decades, the Ojibway community north of Thunder Bay, Ont., has suffered through a series of disasters nearly unparalleled among non-Indigenous communities.

In 2004, an assessment found about half of the First Nation’s 100 homes were dilapidated and unlivable, mostly due to mold. Today, dozens of homes have been replaced and more construction is planned. The community’s boil-water advisory will soon be officially lifted, ending a 13-year interruption to its water supply. And according to Chief Wilfred King, Gull Bay now has a positive balance on the books, a triumph for the community, whose debt once soared as high as $11 million.

The nation’s finances spun out of control in 2004, at a time when they were controlled by a “third-party manager” appointed by the federal government, he said.

“That [set] us back easily 20 years,” said Chief King, referring to the period between 2002 and 2010. “No resources went into building up our community. There was just a lot of people making money on our backs, on our misery.”

Chief Wilfred King says Gull Bay First Nation’s finances began to spin out of control in the early 2000s when they were administered by a government-appointed “third-party manager.” Photo by Stacey Barry

Canada’s intervention in Gull Bay was part of a long-standing federal policy granting officials options for placing a First Nation under trusteeship if they believed the chief and council were not managing funding responsibly. The federal government announced plans to replace the Default Prevention and Management Policy (DPMP) in 2017.

An investigation by Canada’s National Observer and researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University examined the impact on First Nations where the policy was in place between 2008 and 2016. It found in more than half of cases where federally appointed “default managers” either shared control or assumed complete control of a First Nation’s finances, conditions in the community got worse, not better. 

Infographic by Ata Ojani

In at least 65 of those 112 First Nations, the community experienced long-term boil-water advisories or the percentage of homes in need of major repair increased. On the other hand, conditions were more likely to improve in First Nations left to manage their own affairs. 

A federal financial intervention program created new water and housing hardships for at least 65 First Nations while it was in place, a @NatObserver investigation finds. #cdnpoli 

Boil-water advisories followed the federal government’s imposition of the DPMP in every case where records were available, according to data from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

“There should be a class-action lawsuit,” said Chief King after Canada’s National Observer shared with him the results of the two-year investigation. The federal government is liable for any damages communities experienced, he said.

“This policy here sets First Nations back, and it’s designed to set them back,” said Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe of the Anishinabek Nation, an organization representing 39 First Nations. “There should be some sort of reparations for the communities who have gone through this.”

Infographic by Ata Ojani

The investigative team built a database using ISC documents and data obtained by Shiri Pasternak at Toronto Metropolitan University through the Access to Information Act. Effects on housing were quantified using Statistics Canada’s data on housing repairs needed and numbers of homes. The team is gathering more information to better understand the impacts on the First Nations administered under DPMP during this period, but this may constitute the most comprehensive information gathered on the policy’s impacts to date.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu was not available for comment. In response to questions, an ISC spokesperson pointed out the federal government acknowledged problems with the intervention policy in a 2017 report and is “replacing it with a new, proactive approach that supports capacity development.”

Currently, ISC administers 93 First Nations under the DPMP, but only one is currently under third-party management, the policy’s most restrictive form of trusteeship. In cases where default managers are still working with bands, they are now paid through dedicated federal funds.

ISC acknowledged that the federal government’s chronic underfunding of First Nations programs and services hindered leaders’ ability to deliver them and set the stage for DPMP being enacted in the first place. “That is why, since April 2016, Canada has committed more than $14 billion to improve infrastructure in First Nations communities,” a spokesperson for the federal department said. 

A 2004 assessment found roughly half of Gull Bay’s homes were unlivable. Photo by Stacey Barry

“This is the ultimate manifestation of the power of the Canadian state,” said Charlie Angus, an NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, a riding that includes First Nations administered under DPMP. “The results are clear.

“(In) what municipality in Canada does the government arbitrarily take out the chief or the mayor and council and bring somebody who doesn’t even live in the community, who has absolute, total control?” he said. “That’s colonialism.”

Angus said the data describes what he’s seen during his 18 years in politics. As the NDP’s former critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, a department that has since been dissolved and replaced by ISC, he witnessed housing conditions deteriorate in First Nations in his riding and across Canada. For First Nations placed under third-party management, “no contracts could be signed for building,” he said, “and so you had people who were living in a massive housing crisis.”

Federal authorities repeatedly warned Canadian leaders about the failures of the DPMP after it was formalized in 2001, according to internal documents the team obtained. Until 2017, it was administered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Successive auditors general pointed out the highly paid default managers, who often earned between $160,000 and $420,000 annually, had no incentive to hand control back to First Nations. By 2008, most had been in their positions for 10 years or more. The number of First Nations administered under all forms of this policy peaked at more than 180 in 2004, then stabilized around 150 until 2017. 

A 2003 federal audit report labelled the financial control policy “punitive” and noted third-party managers needed more guidance on how to pay down debts. The managers made poor decisions about infrastructure, and some government officials failed to follow federal tendering rules when hiring them, the audit stated. “There was no indication of public tenders or open bidding for the work,” the federal audit team wrote in 2003.

Naiomi Metallic, an assistant professor of law at Dalhousie University and member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, said the DPMP exacerbated poverty in First Nations already facing budgetary deficits, creating “a vicious circle” of growing debt, ensnaring these communities in long-term crises. 

“They’re sort of trapping them in these poverty traps,” she said.

The team found significant regional differences. In Manitoba, federal authorities administered nearly 90 per cent of First Nations under this policy between 2008 and 2017, while officials in B.C. imposed it on 15 per cent of First Nations.

Today, Gull Bay First Nation is able to replace dozens of dilapidated homes. Photo by Stacey Barry

Current and former default managers and federal workers explained in interviews that the ministry’s regional offices had considerable autonomy. But in many cases, First Nations were placed under government financial control because they had simply reallocated funds from one department to another — for example, from education to road maintenance after a flood — to solve budgetary emergencies caused by federal underfunding. 

In Gull Bay First Nation, the chief and council tried in vain to monitor the nation’s debts after a new third-party manager was brought in. They asked him for the First Nation’s financial documents, which he refused to share. Gull Bay leadership successfully fought both the default manager and the federal government in court in 2006 to gain access to the documents. The presiding judge noted in the decision that the manager had treated requests from Gull Bay leaders “somewhat distainfully (sic) and with considerable delay.” 

Gull Bay switched to co-management in 2010 and retains this status for bookkeeping purposes, Chief King said. Like many remote communities, it is a challenge for Gull Bay to find qualified financial professionals to manage federal reporting requirements, which most experts suggest are beyond the capacity of even experienced chartered professional accountants.

However, Grand Council Chief Niganobe said the threat of federal intervention remains, since the policy has never been entirely repealed. 

“If you really want to decolonize anything, you take it all away,” he said. 

— With files from Rob Houle, Declan Keogh, Michael Wrobel, Jaida Beaudin and Karina Zapata. This reporting builds on work undertaken in partnership with the “Clean Water, Broken Promises” consortium.

If you are a member of a First Nation that has been administered under the DPMP or would like to learn more about the data and documents the team has collected, please contact us at

July 6, 2018


Cancellation of Indigenous curriculum content

Ontario’s Ministry of Education has cancelled a project to update provincial curriculum documents with Indigenous content. including those on TRC curriculum revisions and Indigenous languages in kindergarten. Ontario is the only province to renege on its commitment. See Education C2A # 62i. Doug Ford continues to undo the work of his predecessor, Kathleen Wynne, who initiated a number of positive reforms to advance Reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Indigenous stakeholder groups in Ontario have raised objections to this unilateral and unjustified dismantling of Reconciliation efforts especially given the positive momentum generated in other provinces and territories.

May 16, 2023


Chiefs of Ontario Launches Public Education and Awareness Campaign Surrounding Systemic Racism

NationTalk: Toronto, ON The Chiefs of Ontario’s Justice Sector is proud to launch the newly developed Public Education and Awareness Campaign surrounding systemic racism.

The campaign is intended to raise awareness about lesser-known systemic issues, the policy decisions that lead to them, and solutions to dismantle and correct them. In pinpointing various precise policy choices that have led to these systemic issues, the Chiefs of Ontario are highlighting the importance of connecting apathetic bureaucratic choices and their real-world outcomes.


  1. The forced evacuation of pregnant First Nations women from their communities
  2. Disproportionate flooding in First Nations territories
  3. Challenges getting loans
  4. Barriers to First Nations access to cancer screenings
  5. Inequitable access to voting during provincial and federal elections
  6. Fatal fires on First Nations Reserves
  7. Bright spot: The end of high school streaming

“Systemic racism has and continues to hinder our First Nations’ successes in employment, education, justice, social participation, and more,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “The launch of the Chiefs of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Public Education and Awareness Campaign is meant to highlight how these discriminatory systems that have embedded themselves into our society have continued to uphold an unfair and unjust power dynamic that disproportionately and negatively affect Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).”

The Chiefs of Ontario are hopeful that this campaign and the linkages it draws will educate the public on both the causes and consequences of systemic issues, and will serve as a meaningful tool to move away from endless cycles of engagement and inquiries on already well-studied topics.

“In a settler colonial state like Canada, systemic racism is deeply rooted in every system across this country. I urge everyone to use this campaign as a guide in unlearning the harmful and false stereotypes and narratives affecting our communities. I am hopeful that this campaign can also be used as a tool to allow for meaningful discourse surrounding the history of the Indigenous populations who have lived on these lands since time immemorial.

First Nations people have experienced far too many traumatic and preventable events as a result of systemic racism embedded within institutions and continue to face harmful stereotypes that have formed as a result of colonialism, racism, misinformation, and a general lack of awareness and understanding about the issues that plague our communities.

Recently, we have seen numerous reports be developed, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, the 231 Calls for Justice from the final report of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the 100 recommendations in the final report from the Ipperwash Inquiry. We have the information that we need to understand the consequences of systemic racism. We must use this information to strive towards real change in dismantling and overhauling the harmful systems and institutions that are currently in place.”

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare


The Chiefs of Ontario support all First Nations in Ontario as they assert their sovereignty, jurisdiction and their chosen expression of nationhood. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @ChiefsOfOntario.

The Public Education and Awareness Campaign contains two components for download and exploration: the 7 Things You May Not Know Were Systemic Racism booklet, and social media graphics.

The Chiefs of Ontario invites you to participate in this campaign in the following ways: 

  1. Share on social media. Chiefs of Ontario invites First Nations, Provincial Territorial Organizations, Tribal Councils, First Nations organizations and the broader public to download the social media graphics and share them on your social media channels with the hashtags: #DismantleSystemicRacism or#PromoteAllyship and tagging @ChiefsOfOntario
  2. Read the booklet. The booklet, available for download, explores seven ways that systemic racism manifests itself in Ontario and Canada and provides and studies a case study for each example.
  3. Spread the word. Our hope is that the contents of this campaign help to inform and empower others to speak out against systemic racism and become advocates for the implementation of concrete solutions.

To explore the campaign, visit the Justice Sector page on the Chiefs of Ontario website – look for the Anti-Racism Project

For more information on the Anti-Racism Public Education and Awareness Campaign, please contact Jackie Lombardi, Director of Justice, at

Media inquiries, please contact:

Chris Hoyos
Director of Policy and Communications
Chiefs of Ontario
Telephone: (416) 597 4998

April 10, 2023

First Nations

Chiefs’ resistance to change stalls new path for AFN

“We can no longer have this top down, one-size fits-all approach. The Healing Path Forward Accord will be community driven, up to the region, up to the national level.” — National Chief RoseAnne Archibald

A woman in a grey suit speaks at the microphone. She wears a birchbark headband with shells on it and white fur pieces dangling from it. On it is a medallion with the AFN logo on it.
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald National Chief RoseAnne Archibald has given chiefs another few months to get on board with the next steps for her proposed Healing Path Forward Accord. The accord was adopted at last July’s Assembly of First Nations (AFN) annual general assembly in a resolution entitled “A renewed framework providing strategic direction and action toward evolutionary and positive change.”

This spring’s assembly, held April 4 to April 6, was to give the go-ahead to establish a chiefs’ committee on nation-building. However, no resolution was put forward for the committee’s establishment because of chiefs’ “resistance to change”, said Archibald in an address April 6, the final day of the special assembly held in Ottawa. “Even positive change, even positive transformational change, will be met with drawbacks and discomfort. But, nonetheless, we have to be relentless,” said Archibald.

The Healing Path Forward Accord proposes a new approach to the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism (PBM) memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the AFN and the federal government. Signed in 2017, the main purpose of the PBM is to advance joint priorities between the AFN and Canada. The Healing Path Forward Accord would see the chiefs’ committee on nation-building chart a path forward in implementing treaty and inherent rights, which would be driven by rights holders.

According to Archibald, there had been low engagement and feedback on the accord, despite the national chief’s office undertaking its own initiative to facilitate preliminary discussions on it. Archibald said she had received a letter midway through the chiefs’ assembly from the Ontario region saying their engagement sessions with their communities were only just beginning and would run through until July 28. 

She pointed out that work on the Healing Path Forward process began in October 2021. It was brought to the AFN executive retreat in March 2022 before passing as a resolution at last year’s AGA. Archibald said input was still welcome. Although last week’s draft resolution didn’t make it to the assembly floor, it had been circulated among a number of regional caucuses.

The Healing Path Forward Accord would see focus shift from the “domestication” of First Nations sovereignty to talking about international sovereignty, said Archibald, with the new chiefs’ committee working on a coordinated national approach to replace the colonial federal policies imposed on First Nations.

The new approach is needed, according to the July 2022 resolution, because the processes engaged through the PBM MOU are “not working effectively…(resulting) in the AFN experiencing challenges and setbacks when working to advance identified priorities…” “Moving from this current comfortable structure to updating the PMB MOU can incite a little bit of fear. And at the same time, we must have the courage to be the agents of change,” said Archibald.

She said the process was important because it was grassroots driven. “We can no longer have this top down, one-size fits-all approach. The Healing Path Forward Accord will be community driven, up to the region, up to the national level,” she said.

Archibald also explained that “respected and outspoken” policy analyst Russ Diabo had joined her office late last year “to do some work that creates space for diversity of views that are not always represented on the floor at the AFN.” To that end, Diabo’s first task was a discussion paper entitled Sovereignty, self-determination, and land back: A path forward for implementing our treaty and inherent rights, which was sent to chiefs, councils and communities in March.

Diabo presented highlights of that paper at the chiefs assembly, stressing the need for First Nations to operate in an international field: for all levels of government to recognize and respect First Nations Aboriginal title, inherent rights, all treaties and the right of self-determination in accordance with international law; and the creation of a new policy to be presented at a First Ministers’ meeting which recognizes and affirms Aboriginal title, inherent rights, all treaties and the international right of self-determination.

A third key objective focused on First Nations people obtaining benefits from restoration of, or restitution for, their lands, territories and resources, which were “confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.”

Archibald said the goal is to present and pass the resolution for the nation-building committee in July at the AFN’s annual general assembly in Halifax. “Rather than having us react to the government’s agenda, you will drive this process. And that’s why that draft Healing Path Forward Accord was established and written and why it’s very much needed,” said Archibald.

By Shari Narine
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

November 15, 2018


Closing Child and Youth Advocate Office

Letter from the Provincial Advocate for Children. Mar. 13, 2019
Progressive Conservative government announced as part of its Fall Economic Outlook that they would be repealing the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, and transferring investigation authority into child welfare services, residential care (including youth justice) and children’s secure treatment to the Ombudsman’s Office.

30% of child welfare caseload in Ontario is Indigenous despite comprising only 4.1% of the population. Many of the provisions in the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, 2007, will not be carried over to the Ombudsman’s Office.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • broadening the Ombudsman’s investigation mandate to include all children and youth currently served within our mandate;
  • the power to investigate or be notified of incidents of serious occurrences, such as when a young person dies or suffers serious bodily harm; and
  • the responsibility to provide rights education to children and youth seeking or receiving services.

May 20, 2023

Fed. Govt., ON

Court dispute between First Nations and Métis Nation of Ontario highlights longstanding issues

‘We need structures that allow us to have those disputes aired’ that aren’t the courts, says Daniel Voth

A blue and white flag in the wind.
A Métis Nation flag flies in Ottawa in January 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

CBC News: An ongoing court battle between the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and several First Nations is highlighting longstanding conflict over recognition of Métis communities and rights.

After the MNO signed a self-government agreement with the federal government in February, several First Nations groups said they were worried about how the deal could affect their communities. The agreement is supposed to lead to a self-government treaty between the MNO and Canada within the next two years. 

The Wabun Treaty Council (WTC), representing six First Nations in northeastern Ontario, filed a judicial review to have the MNO’s self-government deal thrown out. 

Daniel Voth, an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Calgary, said the MNO’s self-government agreement, and First Nations’ reaction to it, exposes a number of longstanding issues. 

The MNO defines Métis as a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and is accepted by the Métis Nation. 

In 2017, the Government of Ontario and the MNO affirmed the existence of six more historic Métis communities in the province. 

Both WTC and the Robinson Huron Waawiindamaagewin (RHW), representing 21 First Nations, commissioned research that challenged the existence of these communities. 

A map of the Métis Nation homeland.
This map shows the traditional Métis Homeland according to the Manitoba Métis Federation. The six communities identified in 2017 fall outside of this territory. (Manitoba Métis Federation)

Voth, who is Métis and grew up near his family’s scrip land near Winnipeg, said early census records provide some insight into how the history of people with mixed Indigenous and European ancestry became complicated.

Census categories like “Indian” or “half-breed,” along with subjective assessments of people’s skin colour, determined which Indigenous people were afforded treaty rights in the 19th century, he said.

Those categories remain part of how Indigenous ancestry is often traced today. 

“Those racial categories were really important to settlers and their bureaucrats,” said Voth.

“That is the damage and the violence that we are dealing with.”

‘Mixed ancestry does not a people make’

An exploratory study by the RHW said that researchers had “repeatedly heard from First Nation leaders and community members in Ontario that the MNO appears to be using their Anishinaabeg and Cree family members” as Métis root ancestors on the basis of mixed ancestry. 

The RHW research also said some people identified as Métis root ancestors by the MNO were actually “Anishinaabeg individuals living among their kin in Anishinaabeg First Nations” and showed no signs of having a distinct non-Anishinaabe culture.  

The issue in both cases, Voth said, is “mixed ancestry does not a people make.” Rather, shared characteristics like language, laws and history are necessary to define a community.

Voth said if you accept that the research is true — that Cree and Anishinaabe people were wrongly classified as Métis root ancestors — the implications are worrying. 

“The broader implication of this is that the legitimacy of the Nation’s ability to identify its own members has been fundamentally undermined.”

Ontario’s recognition of the six historic Métis communities identified in 2017 is at the root of the issue for some First Nations. 

The RHW’s research said the move by the province “provided the MNO with de facto veto power over land-based projects and territorial negotiations involving First Nations” by requiring them to consult with the MNO on issues like “economic development, mining and infrastructure licensing, specific land claims and treaty land entitlement negotiations.”

Similarly, a court filing by the WTC said the MNO’s self-government deal “poses an existential threat to the constitutionally protected rights of the First Nations.”

Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms needed

In previous reporting by CBC News, MNO President Margaret Froh said she was surprised and troubled by the reaction from First Nations. Froh told CBC News she would prefer to settle the dispute with the WTC through dialogue rather than through the courts. 

Voth said the fact that there are no shared dispute resolution mechanisms for these types of situations is a problem.

“We need structures that allow us to have those disputes aired and resolved that are not the Canadian court system,” Voth said.

By going to the courts to settle disputes, Voth said it’s handing the power to make decisions to “judges and lawyers who, by and large, are not us.”

Voth also said he’s worried about the impact these disputes could have on non-Indigenous people who are trying to engage with Indigenous people for work on reconciliation.  

“One of the things this conflict makes difficult, is when that happens it’s not clear if they’re who they’re actually supposed to be talking to.”    


Samantha Schwientek, Samantha Schwientek is a reporter with CBC Indigenous based in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). She is a member of the Cayuga nation of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and previously worked at CBC Nova Scotia.

April 24, 2023

Fed. Govt.

CRA must tackle trust issues, discrimination against Indigenous clients, report says

Many have felt discriminated against due to misinformation about tax exemptions for Indigenous Peoples, both by Canadians and representatives of the CRA, the report found. Photo by Matteo Cimellaro / Canada’s National Observer 

CBC News: The Canada Revenue Agency must do more to build trust and prevent discrimination when interacting with Indigenous clients, according to a report that became publicly available last week.

The report, prepared by Earnscliffe Strategy Group, sought to gather data on Indigenous Peoples’ experience when engaging with CRA tax services and accessing benefits and credits. Its findings come from an online survey of 1,742 respondents, as well as online focus groups and in-depth interviews.

Participants were asked about their experiences filing taxes, interacting with the CRA, accessing benefits and credits and their overall impression of and trust in the federal agency. While two-thirds of participants had a neutral impression of the CRA overall, nearly a quarter strongly disagreed that the CRA works for the benefit of Indigenous Peoples. Many have felt discriminated against due to misinformation about tax exemptions for Indigenous Peoples, both by Canadians and representatives of the CRA, the report found.

Tax exemptions are a longstanding source of anti-Indigenous racism in Canada. In a 2022 report titled, “They Sigh or Give You the Look: Discrimination and Status Card Usage,” the authors found a mention of status cards can trigger racist comments rooted in stereotypes that First Nations people get “handouts” or “stuff for free.”

Tax filing fluency is important for Indigenous Peoples in order for them to access benefits, credits and exemptions. Benefits for disabilities or single mothers are disrupted if a client files late. In the CRA report, just two-thirds of participants had filed income taxes in the past year.

Limited trust in the federal agency has also led to many Indigenous Peoples having “a reluctance to interact, or being stressed when dealing with CRA and putting it off as a result,” the CRA report found. In the survey, 17 per cent of people strongly agreed people at the CRA are trustworthy, while 16 per cent strongly disagreed.

The report also found most Indigenous Peoples are not accessing their tax exemptions within the Indian Act. Just over a quarter filed the exemption, whereas two in five respondents who did not use the T90 form to file for an exemption were unaware it existed. The report suggested the CRA should make the tax filing process simpler by using less technical language, hiring more Indigenous Peoples, including agents who travel into communities, and having a dedicated phone line for Indigenous Peoples staffed by Indigenous Peoples.

Canada’s National Observer contacted the CRA to ask how many Indigenous Peoples are currently on staff, whether they travel into communities and if a phone line is in development but did not hear back by time of publication.

While two-thirds of participants had a neutral impression of the CRA overall, nearly a quarter strongly disagreed that the CRA works for the benefit of Indigenous Peoples. #TRC #Reconciliation #CRA 

An access-to-information request filed by Canada’s National Observer revealed the CRA reached out to national Indigenous organizations last year to improve Indigenous Peoples’ tax filing experience and access to benefits. The Assembly of First Nations and Inuit Tapiritt Kanatami didn’t respond to a Canada’s National Observer request for comment regarding how the CRA’s research was presented to them.

The new report updated existing public opinion research completed by the CRA in 2017. Those studies found the CRA needed to provide greater outreach to urban Indigenous Peoples to increase awareness and understanding of benefits associated with filing tax returns, according to a summary of the 2017 report.

Various government benefits, such as disability benefits and those for single mothers, are dependent on filing tax returns on time. However, some people who failed to file on time didn’t realize it would disrupt their benefits, the 2017 report summary says.

Matteo Cimellaro / Canada’s National Observer / Local Journalism Initiative

June 30, 2022


Cree Nation Government expresses its disappointment in Quebec’s lack of meaningful collaboration regarding the moose population situation in Zone 17

Nemaska, Eeyou Istchee (June 30, 2022) – The Cree Nation Government wishes to provide the following statement in response to the situation of the decline in moose population in Zone 17 and the discussions on the potential allocation of a portion of the Cree harvest of moose to Jamesian resident of the territory.

The Cree Nation Government would like to express its disappointment in the process and the lack of collaboration and communication that has been demonstrated by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks and MNA for Ungava Denis Lamothe with respect to potential solutions to maintain a sports hunt for residents of the territory.

While the Cree Nation Government was in a process to find solutions to maintain a limited sport hunt for residents of the territory while respecting the decisions of each respective communities, the Cree were unfortunately informed, via a public notice on social media by MNA for Ungava Denis Lamothe, that such solutions would not be considered by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks.

The recent announcement of the MNA has been issued without any Cree involvement and disregarded efforts currently in progress by the Cree. The announcement also referred to decisions by our Cree communities regarding the allocation to the sports hunt. Any announcement of a Cree harvest allocation to the sports hunt should have been provided by the Cree Nation Government. Furthermore, this announcement fails to respect due process while such decision by Québec should have been brought to the Cree Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee (HFTCC).

It is important to clarify that intensive efforts have been invested by the Cree Nation Government, concerned communities and tallymen, to propose solutions and approaches that would meet the expectations of all impacted by the decline of the moose population in Zone 17, including the Jamesian residents of the territory.

Given the current population, the HFTCC has established a limit of harvest of 104 moose and allocated this entre harvest to the Cree as foreseen in the JBNQA which states under sub-paragraph 24.6.3 d) that if game populations do not permit levels of harvesting equal to the guaranteed level established pursuant to paragraph 24.6.2, the Native people shall be allocated the entire harvest and may allocate a portion of this kill to non-Natives through recognized outfitting facilities. Pursuant to this, and given the sensitivity of the issue, the Cree have undertaken extensive consultations throughout the last 5 months with the impacted communities and tallymen to assess the feasibility of sharing a portion this allocation to the Jamesian residents of the territory.

The communities have expressed many concerns on the decline of the moose population including increased pressure from development, forestry and mining activities, increased uncontrolled access, lack of monitoring of wildlife population, as well as the lack of surveillance in the territory. Most importantly, the impacted communities and tallymen have outlined the importance of prioritizing the conservation of the moose population and its habitat first and foremost as well as the preservation of their traditional activities and subsistence needs as outlined in the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA).

Our tallymen have been patient and have continued to show openness despite the numerous impacts that they are subject to. The allocation of moose would have required great sacrifice by our tallymen and people to further reduce our harvest to accommodate the needs of the residents of the territory. Despite this, some of our tallymen and communities were still open to share their portion of the moose harvest in a spirit of sharing, compassion, and harmony between users of the territory.

The decision the Cree Nation of Waswanipi has taken to maintain the closure of the moose sport hunt for 2022, is in respect of concerns brought forth through their tallymen and the desire to focus on the development of a moose conservation plan. In parallel, the community and concerned tallymen of Ouje-Bougoumou has been open to allocate a portion of their harvest to the Jamesian residents of the territory for a special project that would maintain a limited sport hunt for the 2022 season.

The Cree Nation has expressed numerous times their openness by proposing solutions that have unfortunately not been adopted by the Ministry of Wildlife, Forest and Parks. In the meantime, the Cree Nation Government, the concerned communities, and tallymen will continue its work towards developing a moose conservation plan and harvesting guidelines through a Moose Management Committee. This plan will outline measures addressing impacts on the moose population and its habitat.

The Government of Québec must acknowledge its responsibility towards balancing development and conservation of habitat in addition to facilitating and promoting a harmonious co-existence between populations of the territory. The Cree Nation Government remains open to these discussions in the spirit of collaboration essential to positive and beneficial relations for all.

February 3, 2020

Fed. Govt., MB

Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation

CTV News – People from a Manitoba First Nation destroyed by flooding nearly nine years ago met in Winnipeg on Monday after a federal court upheld a decision by the federal government last week to end benefits for evacuees still waiting to go home Chief Adrian Sinclair has expressed concern some people, who have been temporarily living in Winnipeg since severe flooding displaced around 1,400 people, could end up homeless with evacuation benefits coming to an end.

The federal government said Monday, financial support is ending because there’s more housing now than before the flood.

November 7, 2019

Fed. Govt., MB

Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation

Government of Canada – announcement by the Government of Canada to cut off funding for emergency aid to residents of Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba on Dec. 31. 2019 with the expectation that new housing stock – needed due to the massive 2011 flood – will be finished by then to accommodate all evacuees. Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair says the recent storm, and other factors have delayed the completion of houses on the First Nation.

When a massive flood hit Manitoba, the Government of Manitoba decided to divert water to Lake St. Martin in order to protect cottage, and agricultural properties on other bodies of water. As a result, all the housing at Lake St. Martin First Nation was destroyed. As of 2014, the approximately 1,900 flood evacuees are still displaced (Wikipedia).

November 6, 2019

Fed. Govt., MB

Cutting emergency funding to evacuated First Nation

Nov. 6, 2019 – While some have returned to newly constructed houses, 991 people are still waiting for a place to live, 400 of them children. (CTV)

January 19, 2023


Dealing with Sask. First Act one of treaty commissioner’s top priorities for 2023

Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson says bill offends inherent and treaty rights

Jennifer Francis · CBC News · Posted: Jan 11, 2023 4:00 AM EST | Last Updated: January 19

Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson sitting in her office
Mary Culbertson says she believes the Saskatchewan First Act does offend inherent and treaty rights. (CBC News)

CBC News: Last year, Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan Mary Culbertson was critical of the proposed Saskatchewan First Act and now, in 2023, she is questioning the basis, accuracy and respect of treaty rights of the bill.

The provincial government introduced the Saskatchewan First Act last November, stating the act would assert exclusive provincial jurisdiction over natural resources in Saskatchewan.

Indigenous advocates have said the act threatens inherent and treaty rights of Indigenous people. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, has called for blockades while it organizes legal action against the provincial government.

Culbertson said she believes the Saskatchewan First Act does offend inherent and treaty rights. “Just because a government says it doesn’t infringe on rights, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the facts or truth,” she said.  “Who do they have stating it’s not going to infringe on [treaty] rights? Do they have policy advisors and experts who actively exercise treaty and inherent rights to know what an offence to those rights are?”

In a statement announcing the bill, the provincial government stated: “The Act amends the Constitution of Saskatchewan to clearly confirm Saskatchewan’s sovereign autonomy and asserts Saskatchewan’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada over a number of areas.”

Culbertson said a document called the “Constitution of Saskatchewan” does not exist.

Joyce Green, a professor emerita at the University of Regina in political science, said, “Really there isn’t such a thing as an independent constitution; the provinces and federal governments are created and defined by the British North America Act of 1867, now renamed the Constitution Act of 1876.”

The preamble of the Saskatchewan First Act states Saskatchewan attained full status and autonomy over Crown lands and natural resources through the Natural Resources Transfer Act (NRTA) of 1930, between the federal government and the Prairie provinces.

Culbertson said the NRTA has been at odds with treaty rights since its inception.

“That’s my opinion as a treaty commissioner into what the treaties were supposed to be, the intent of them, the spirit and intent of them, and negotiations around the treaties,” she said, “The NRTA is something that should not have happened.”

Green said the NRTA “certainly” conflicts with treaty rights. “If you look at Indigenous understanding of especially the treaties that pertain in Saskatchewan, the agreement was to share land to the depth of a plough,” she said.

In a statement, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre said the Saskatchewan First Act is not altering the Constitution, as the province already has jurisdiction over natural resources. “The Saskatchewan First Act is not a violation of Duty to Consult with our First Nations partners,” the statement said.

“The Act [certainly] doesn’t purport to challenge treaties.” “The fact that the provinces have exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources is not our language. It’s in the Constitution, under the division of powers.”

The statement said if the FSIN and other organizations disagree with the division of powers, which is “the same Constitution that also protects treaty rights,” it should be addressed on a federal level and undergo a constitutional amendment process.

Culbertson said this assertion from the provincial government that the bill does not go against treaty rights is not surprising. “You can see it through the courts, that litigation against treaty is just something this province likes to do,” she said.

After publication, the Government of Saskatchewan contacted CBC News stating its position that the NRTA does not violate treaty rights.


  • Saskatchewan does not have an act called a constitution, though it has founding legislation that provides rules for the governance of the province. These are set out in large part in the Saskatchewan Act, but it doesn’t refer to that document as a constitution.Jan 19, 2023 2:10 PM ET

Jennifer Francis

Jennifer Francis a reporter with CBC Indigenous based in Saskatchewan. She is from the Kahkewistahaw First Nation and lives in Regina. Got news tips? Send them to

With files from Jason Warick and Adam Hunter


May 18, 2023


Editing the oath: growing call for province to mention treaty rights in municipal oath of office

Any changes to the municipal oath of office need to be approved by the Ontario government

Several people in dresses and suits stand and read an oath, some with their hands up or over their hearts, in a council chambers.
Several city and town councils in northeastern Ontario are calling on the provincial government to change the wording of the municipal oath of office. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Several city and town councils in northeastern Ontario want to edit the oath of office mayors and councillors say before they take their seats. They have passed motions in recent weeks calling on the provincial government to change the oath to include mention of Indigenous and treaty rights.

The proposed re-wording is:

“I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his majesty King Charles III. And I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Wawa Mayor Melanie Pilon, who is Anishinaabe, says she was happy to see her council vote for that new oath earlier this month. “I personally feel it will act as a reminder for those pledging oaths in the future to consider and recognize treaty rights,” she said. “I think words matter. That’s what I think it boils down to. And I think it’s a small step in keeping the conversation going and moving.”

A woman with dark and grey hair wearing glasses and pearls smiles at the camera
Wawa Mayor Melanie Pilon, who is Anishinaabe, feels a municipal oath of office that mentions both the Crown and Indigenous rights is a ‘small step’ forward in reconciliation. (Melanie Pilon)

However, Pilon says personally she would choose not to read that new oath if the province makes the change. When she was sworn in as mayor last fall, she chose to read an alternative oath that does not include a loyalty pledge to the Crown.

That alternative oath was developed in 2018, when Hearst town councillor Gaetan Baillargeon refused to read the regular oath and was initially not allowed to take his seat at the council table.

A week later, the Ontario government allowed him to be sworn in with the words: “I identify as an Indigenous person and I assert that making the declaration of allegiance to her majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second would be inconsistent with my views regarding the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples.”

Baillargeon used the same oath when he was sworn in this fall for another term on Hearst council.  He says they approved the new proposed oath earlier this spring, although he feels it isn’t “ideal.”

A man wearing glasses, a grey blazer and a goatee smiles into the camera
Gaetan Baillargeon was initially not allowed to take his seat on Hearst town council in 2018 when he refused to read the regular oath of office, but then the province allowed him to say an alternate one. (Radio-Canada)

Baillargeon, a citizen of Constance Lake Fist Nation, says he’d like to see references to the monarchy completely removed from the municipal oath, but he admits that his feelings are a bit “confused” now that Inuk woman Mary Simon is the governor general 

Any changes to the oath would have to be approved by the provincial government and this lobbying effort comes as some cities and towns in Ontario are wondering if they should drop the loyalty pledge to the Crown altogether.


Erik White , journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to

June 29, 2018


Eliminating dedicated Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

Eliminating a dedicated cabinet position for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and subsuming all responsibilities under one Ministry responsible for energy, northern development ad mines, and Indigenous Affairs June 29, 2018 – The Ipperwash Inquiry into the police killing of protester Dudley George in an Indigenous occupation of a provincial park in 1995 concluded that divided attention was dangerous — that Native Affairs, as it then was, should be its own ministry. (Ottawa Citizen)

May 9, 2023

BC, Fed. Govt.

Federal Court of Appeal Allows Judicial Review of Bait-and-Switch Approval of Emergency Towing Vessel Contract on BC’s Coast

NationTalk: BELLA BELLA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Heiltsuk Horizon is welcoming a Federal Court of Appeal ruling that allows a judicial review of a complaint the company filed against the federal procurement process to acquire two emergency towing vessels meant to protect BC’s coast against marine oil spills and other maritime accidents, as part of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan.

In their complaint before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT), Heiltsuk Horizon contended the Department of Public Works and Government Services, acting on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, improperly allowed the winning bidder to substitute all four of the ship masters originally proposed in its winning bid, with new, less experienced masters, contrary to the criteria of the Request for Proposals. The Tribunal’s decision that the complaint was not valid has now been set aside by the Federal Court of Appeal, and an application for judicial review allowed. The plaintiffs were also awarded costs.

A copy of the court’s ruling is available here:

On the heels of the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill in Heiltsuk territory, Heiltsuk leadership attended the 2016 announcement of the $1.5 billion Ocean’s Protections Plan (OPP), which included funding for two emergency towing vessels – one stationed on each of the north and south coasts to respond to marine incidents. The Heiltsuk had hoped for a successful bid for the towing contract to ensure the highest quality emergency response possible and to benefit their community. Ultimately, Canada failed to live up to its commitment to engage Indigenous participation in the OPP, as it was revealed that the RFP for the Emergency Towing Contract only factored Indigenous content into its scoring system at 1%.

“We welcome the court’s ruling that our complaint and concern about the substitution of less experienced ship masters operating emergency towing vessels on BC’s coast is valid,” said Marilyn Slett, elected Chief of the Heiltsuk First Nation, which is a majority owner of Heiltsuk Horizon. “As bidders in the procurement process, our primary concern has always been to ensure the highest quality emergency towing response in Heiltsuk territorial waters and along the entire West Coast, whether that be based on ship master experience, safety requirements, or the towing capacity of the vessels themselves.”

Heiltsuk Horizon had proposed unique vessels to meet the stringent towing power (bollard pull) requirement in the RFP. It was also previously determined by the CITT that two of the company’s other complaints were valid due to oversights by Public Works and Coast Guard in their evaluation of the RFP submissions. In their ruling on those complaints, the CITT stated that Heiltsuk Horizon may have in fact provided a bid with the only vessels capable of meeting the emergency towing power requirement.

“We are hopeful that the court’s ruling can help achieve a meaningful settlement in what has been an ongoing legal saga over a procurement process that failed to live up to the promise of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan,” said, Steve Widmeyer, CEO of Horizon Maritime Services Limited. “Like all Canadians, we want to ensure that our country’s West Coast is properly resourced, so that we can quickly  prevent and respond to, marine incidents and emergencies.”

The Heiltsuk Nation, currently engaged in ongoing reconciliation work with Canada, teamed up with Horizon Maritime to form Heiltsuk Horizon, following the devastating Nathan E. Stewart oil spill in its territory in October 2016.

“The Heiltsuk are a seafaring community. We are the first responders when things happen on the coast, and we are the first to suffer the impacts,” said Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief Harvey Humchitt. “We have a vision for coastal protection in our territories and we want to see it done right. It is time for Haitcistut – time for Canada to turn things around and make things right on this critical issue.”

About Heiltsuk Horizon:

Heiltsuk Horizon Maritime Services Limited is a partnership that brings together the millennia-old stewardship and seafaring heritage of the Heiltsuk Nation with the offshore and marine industry expertise of Horizon Maritime. This partnership came together to supply government with two world-class emergency towing vessels and to build regional incident prevention and emergency response capacity through the Indigenous Marine Response Centre, (IMRC). Both partners are committed to pursuing additional opportunities to protect our coastal marine environment as we look to build a sustainable future together.

Watch our IMRC video:

Photos & B-roll:

Contact Information:

Marilyn Slett
Chief Councillor
Heiltsuk Nation

Andrew Frank
Heiltsuk Tribal Council Communications

Carly Pickett
Horizon Maritime Communications & Marketing

July 12, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Federal government is failing First Nation fishers, Senate Committee on Fishing and Oceans finds

NationTalk: Halifax – More than 23 years after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling affirmed the treaty fishing rights of certain First Nations, the federal government has failed to fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries, according to a new report by the Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Peace on the Water: Advancing the Full Implementation of Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati Rights-Based Fisheries examines the federal government’s response to the Marshall decision and the implementation of the rights of First Nation communities in parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.

The scope of the study focuses on the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in R. v. Marshall, which upheld the treaty rights of First Nation communities to fish in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood” by catching and selling fish year-round. This decision affected 35 Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and the Gaspé region of Quebec.

Witnesses told the committee that the failure of consecutive federal governments to fully implement rights-based fisheries has resulted in tension, disagreements and violence between First Nations and non-First Nations fishers in parts of Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The committee also heard several allegations of systemic racism within federal departments and agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Witnesses testified how federal authorities have pursued an enforcement approach that has surveyed and criminalized First Nation fishers, yet failed to protect them from acts of intimidation and violence. Further, the committee heard how Fisheries and Oceans Canada prioritizes commercial fisheries over rights-based fisheries.

The study makes 10 recommendations on how the federal government can fully implement Indigenous rights-based fisheries, including reallocating commercial traps to the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati, developing tools to educate the public about rights-based fisheries, and integrating Indigenous laws, principles and knowledge with scientific data into decision-making processes. The report concludes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to implementing Indigenous rights-based fisheries and that any solutions must be reached in collaboration with First Nation communities.

Quick Facts

  • Fisheries across Canada fall into two categories. Rights-based fisheries are based on Aboriginal or treaty rights set out in historic and modern treaties between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. Privilege-based fisheries, like commercial or recreational fisheries, are often fee-based and subject to limitations through licencing and regulation.
  • Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie found that the Peace and Friendship treaties negotiated between the British Crown and First Nation communities in 1760 and 1761 “affirm the right of the Mi’kmaq people to continue to provide for their own sustenance by taking the products of their hunting, fishing and other gathering activities and trading for what in 1760 was termed ‘necessaries’.”


“We have heard loud and clear from First Nation witnesses that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing Indigenous rights-based fisheries. It is crucial that the federal government immediately take steps to co-manage rights-based fisheries with First Nations across the country.”

– Senator Fabian Manning, Chair of the committee

“It has been 23 long years since the Marshall ruling. The Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati communities are still waiting for their fishing rights to be fully implemented. They should not have to wait any longer.”

– Senator Bev Busson, Deputy Chair of the committee

“We need to focus on a reconciliation approach to distributing fishing licences instead of a ‘buyback’ approach. The exercise of Indigenous rights cannot, and should not, be contingent on the federal government’s ability to buy back licences from commercial fishers.”

– Senator Brian Francis, member of the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure

July 13, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Federal government is failing First Nation fishers, Senate Committee on Fishing and Oceans finds: REBUTTAL

NationTalk: HALIFAX, NS – The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) is voicing its grave dissatisfaction and frustration over a study released by the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans earlier this week on Indigenous rights-based fisheries, specifically those affirmed in the 1999 Marshall decisions. The report dismisses over twenty-two years of work by the federal government to implement Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati rights-based fisheries and its approach to negotiations and the methods used to gain more access for First Nations.

“The findings are incredibly biased and do not adequately represent the legal realities of the Marshall decisions,” says Colin Sproul, President of the UFCA. “It appears to have been written without substantial engagement from those closest to the fishing industry and without legal context to the fishery,” says Sproul, adding that broader consultation with industry and legal experts is required to ensure it reflects the current realities of the commercial fishery.

While the Marshall decisions (I & II) affirm the Indigenous Right to participate in the largely regulated fishery, the UFCA argues the study fails to recognize the substantial commercial access that has been granted to, and held by Indigenous communities since this affirmation. The value that the federal government has invested for First Nations impacted by the Marshall decision is nearly $1-billion and per capita, First Nations have more commercial fishery access than non-Indigenous. Furthermore, hundreds of Commercial Communal licences, provided for the pursuit of a moderate livelihood, are controlled and leased by Chief and Council to non-Indigenous commercial fishers for a royalty.

“We support Indigenous fishing access utilized by community members for employment, opposed to a royalty benefit controlled by First Nations government,” says Sproul.

The report also inaccurately refers to the moderate livelihood fishery as a priority access fishery. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed, rather, that the treaty right is a right to “equitable access”; a right to participate in the modern, regulated commercial fishery. “If the Senate Committee is serious about understanding this issue, we strongly encourage them to attempt sober second thought; that is to say, unbiased thought that seeks to understand the Right, the participation level, mechanisms of participation and the value of a single fisheries management authority for sustainability and conservation. Our goal is to have Indigenous and non-indigenous fishing side by side again however, advocating expropriation and chaotic change is not a path to “peace on the water”. The report takes into account the input and perspectives of approximately 18 groups representing Indigenous communities across the Maritimes but just two commercial fisheries associations. The absence of non-indigenous experts who live and work in these communities is evident because it’s clear this Senate Committee does not have the appropriate information to have made practical balanced recommendations on this issue.”

About the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance

The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) represents thousands of independent, multi-species commercial fishermen and women, fishery associations and associated businesses from across Atlantic Canada. The UFCA was formed to bring together many participants in the Atlantic fishery to speak with one balanced, coordinated and moderate voice.

For more information, visit


Media Contact:
Colin Sproul, President
Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance

February 28, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Firing of Jody Wilson-Raybould over SNC-Lavalin

Firing Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould for refusing to grant SNC-Lavalin a “Deferred Prosecution Agreement”. As she stated in her testimony to the Justice Committee: “I was taught to always hold true to your core values, principles and to act with integrity…I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House”.
“The history of Crown-Indigenous relations in this country, includes a history of the rule of law not being respected…And I have seen the negative impacts for freedom, equality and a just society this can have first-hand.” Jody Wilson-Raybould. “For more than150 years Canada has bent laws, disrespected treaties, spent millions taking First Nations to court over resource sharing and tried to bully communities into pipelines.” Tanya Talaga. Toronto Star. March 1, 2019

April 19, 2023

Fed. Govt.

First Nations high-speed internet access lagging behind Canadian average

Less than 43 per cent of households on reserve had access to high-speed internet in 2021

Image shows a closeup view of a web browser.
First Nations access to high-speed internet lags behind the rest of Canada, according to a recent auditor general’s report. (CBC)

CBC News: High-speed internet access on First Nations continues to lag well behind the Canadian average, according to a recent report, prompting calls for more government subsidization of internet access.

“Ideally, it would be something similar to our highways and roads,” said Jesse Fiddler, director of Kuhkenah (K-Net), a First Nations-owned and operated information and communication technology service provider. “The challenge is that our telecommunications infrastructure in Canada has always been done by for-profit companies.”

The Auditor General’s report on connectivity in rural and remote areas found that in 2021, nearly 91 per cent of households across Canada had internet access that met minimum connection speed targets set by the federal government — 50 megabits per second for downloading and 10 megabits per second for uploading (50/10 Mbps). That dropped to about 60 per cent of households in rural and remote areas, and about 43 per cent for households on reserves.

This leads to a lack of opportunity for participation in the digital economy and affects access to services like remote health care or education, according to the report. “There is a big discrepancy right across Canada for First Nations connectivity and even more so in some provinces,” Fiddler said.

Fiddler, who is from Sandy Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario, said he’s happy with some of the work being done by Ontario’s provincial government, such as offering multiple streams of funding for organizations that bring high-speed internet access to First Nations, and reevaluating regulations that could be limiting telecommunications growth (such as access to telephone poles and municipal infrastructure).

But, he said, other regions continue to struggle. He said in Manitoba, where the report said 15 per cent of households on First Nations have access to the minimum target speeds, the province offers no targeted funding for First Nations internet development.

A map of Canada shows the differences in rural, First Nations and urban internet access in to each province or territory.

Rob McMahon, associate professor in media and technology studies and political science at the University of Alberta who has studied connectivity in the N.W.T., said it can be tough to make the business case for better broadband infrastructure for Indigenous communities. “These communities are often, not always, but often located in geographically-dispersed areas with quite small populations,” he said, adding that this would disincentivize telecommunications companies that prioritize profits.

McMahon also said internet speeds slower than the 50/10 Mbps government target are more accessible in remote communities, which could suggest that service providers have not upgraded the local infrastructure. “That infrastructure takes a lot to maintain, more than what you’re making from it. So that’s where the federal government has to come in and… subsidize that for all of rural and remote Canada,” Fiddler said.

Internet a potential revenue source for First Nations

At K-Net, Fiddler said they work to ensure all the local infrastructure is owned by First Nations. “They can set their own rates and invest into it as well. They can make money out of it can be a sustainable business,” Fiddler said.

However, the process of getting better internet to some areas can become a years-long process of dealing with bureaucracy and changing circumstances. Fiddler said one community K-Net worked with waited four years after getting funding approved before it had the connectivity it needed.

Jesse Fiddler stands in front of a brick wall.
Jesse Fiddler, director of K-Net, says there’s a big digital divide between First Nations and the rest of the country when it comes to high-speed internet access. (Submitted by Jesse Fiddler)

The report said $2.4 billion was available through federal departments and agencies for use to support improving Internet or mobile cellular connectivity by the end of the 2022-2023 fiscal year, but that only 40 per cent of that had been spent by January 2023. The report also said stakeholders complained funding decisions took too long.

Fiddler said he would like to see the application and funding process streamlined to speed up access and save money. “If you put in a proposal two or three years ago, and you’re finally at the point you’re ready to do construction and build, your costs have gone way above your original budget,” he said.

It will take a co-ordinated approach by federal and provincial governments, as well as funding agencies, to achieve the federal goal of 100 per cent of households in Canada having high-speed internet access by 2030, Fiddler said. McMahon said he was hopeful the goal can be reached, given new technologies like satellite systems designed to provide fast service in areas where it’s too expensive to build fibre optic networks.


Samantha Schwientek, Samantha Schwientek is a reporter with CBC Indigenous based in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). She is a member of the Cayuga nation of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and previously worked at CBC Nova Scotia.

March 30, 2023


First Nations lay claim to all critical minerals and rare earth elements in Saskatchewan

Province’s new critical mineral strategy infringes on Inherent and Treaty rights: FSIN

Aerial view of a mine in Northern Saskatchewan
An aerial view of the Key Lake Cameco mine in northern Saskatchewan June 28, 2007. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is laying claim to all rare earth minerals in the province. (Dave Stobbe/Reuters)

CBC News: First Nations are laying claim to all critical minerals and rare earth elements in Saskatchewan in light of the province announcing its new critical mineral strategy on Monday.

Saskatchewan has 23 of 31 critical minerals on the Canadian Critical Minerals List. The government’s strategy aims to increase Saskatchewan’s share of Canadian mineral exploration spending to 15 per cent and double critical minerals being produced by 2030. It also intends to grow Saskatchewan’s production of potash, uranium and helium in addition to establishing the province as a rare earth mineral hub.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents 73 First Nations in Saskatchewan, says the critical mineral strategy infringes on inherent and treaty rights.  “At treaty, we agreed for the settlers — in order to have agriculture — to share a plough deep,” Heather Bear, the federation’s vice-chief Heather Bear said. 

“The minerals were never on the table.”

Woman speaking to reporters,
Heather Bear, fourth vice chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says the province’s critical mining strategy infringes on inherent and treaty rights. (Brandon Harder/CBC)
Disputes over depth of plough provision

Dwight Newman, a Canadian Research Chair in Indigenous Rights in Constitutional and International Law, said there is an unresolved dispute between the provincial government and First Nations over whether land below the depth of a plough was shared through Treaties 4 and 6.

Newman said “depth of plough” isn’t in the written text of the Treaties 4 and 6, but First Nations say they never ever agreed to share land below the depth of a plough.

Bear said the Crown has ignored oral agreements made during treaty negotiations. “There is something called the ‘spirit and intent‘ of the treaty and that’s legally binding as well,” Bear said. “We know for a fact, our elders and knowledge keepers have made it clear, that when the treaties were negotiated they had agreed to a plough deep.

“That’s what the Crown had promised. Those were promises and they’re sacred.”

That would mean First Nations, not the government or private industries, are entitled to minerals and other resources well below the depth of plough — such as oil, gas and minerals.

“There’s a pretty wide difference in the viewpoints of the government and the First Nations on that issue, between all of the minerals having been transferred under the treaties and none of them,” Newman said. “It’s a pretty stark difference and a very large legal dispute if that were to happen in full.”

Man sitting at his desk with a bunch of textbooks behind him
Dwight Newman is a Canadian Research Chair In Indigenous Rights in Constitutional and International Law. He also is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law. (Travis Reddaway/CBC)

Newman believes First Nations could face challenges if they submit a claim for full ownership of the minerals in court. “There are some matters that have never really been resolved in the courts,” Newman said. “I think part of what [FSIN] is trying to do is put a large claim forward to try to get a negotiation on some sort of resource revenue sharing.”

What is resource revenue sharing? 

Several provinces have resource revenue sharing agreements, under which they share a percentage of the economic benefits that come from resource extraction on treaty territory with some First Nations.

Some 35 First Nation communities in Ontario currently have resource sharing agreements with the province. They receive 45 per cent of annual revenue from contributing forest management units, 40 per cent of the annual mining tax and royalties and 45 per cent from future mines covered by the agreements, according to the province’s website.

Bear would like to see similar agreements established between Saskatchewan’s provincial government and the 73 First Nations that make up FSIN. She said First Nations aren’t against resource extraction as long as it’s done responsibly, but they need to reap some economic benefits that come from it.

“We need to amend the constitution to be reflective of spirit and intent to share the land,” Bear said. “First and foremost it’s about resource revenue sharing, sharing the wealth and the bounty that comes from our land.”

Bear added that the concept of revenue sharing is not new to Saskatchewan, pointing to the province’s gaming framework agreement, under which First Nation-owned casinos share revenues with the province. “When you look at the disparities that we face, we need substantial resources,” Bear said.

“Federal and provincial policies aren’t fixing that.”

Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe said Thursday that resource revenue is shared with everyone in the province. He added that the province engages Indigenous-owned businesses and has Indigenous people working in resource extraction industries.

More consultation is needed: FSIN

The 2023-24 provincial budget includes boosting the mining exploration incentive from $750,000 to $4 million and increasing the mining exploration tax credit from 10 to 30 per cent to entice investment and mining in Saskatchewan. 

The FSIN added that the province didn’t properly consult First Nations about the Critical Mineral Strategy. “Before Saskatchewan solicits investments from around the globe, they need to ensure that they consult with First Nations to guarantee Inherent and Treaty Rights are not being infringed on,” Bear said.

Man Speaking at a press conference with the Canada and Saskatchewan Flag behind him
Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Resources Jim Reiter announced the Critical Mining Strategy on Monday. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

The province said it is committed to fulfilling the Crown’s legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations, as articulated in the Consultation Policy Framework. “As projects move forward, duty to consult is often triggered on specific projects,” Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan’s minister of energy and resources, said at the announcement on Monday.  “Nothing has changed in that regard.” 

The province said protecting treaty and aboriginal rights, advancing reconciliation and promoting certainty for investment in the province benefits all Saskatchewan residents.


Will McLernon, Reporter

Will McLernon is an online journalist with CBC Saskatchewan. If you have a tip or a story idea, send him an email at

November 2, 2022


First Nations leaders push back against ‘Saskatchewan First Act’ tabled by government

First Nations leaders unhappy with Legislation and lack of consultation.

First Peoples Law Report: APTN News – The Saskatchewan government has tabled its controversial Saskatchewan First Act, in spite of push-back from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Saskatchewan Treaty Commissioner and the opposition NDP.

The government had unveiled the policy in October which is aimed at “confirming Saskatchewan’s autonomy and exclusive jurisdiction over its natural resources”, which appears to be at odds with First Nations rights laid out in the treaties.

“First Nations are not surprised with the province’s lack of consultation and accommodation when it comes to the development of laws, regulations, and policies imposed upon us, especially when it impacts our inherent, treaty and constitutional rights,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron in a statement released Wednesday.

“Our people have always maintained that the lands and waters were never relinquished under Treaty. First Nations continue to be excluded from discussions related to the natural resources, just as we were in 1930 when they imposed the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement.”

The original treaties stated the land was to be shared to the depth of a plow.

A statement posted on the Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan’s website, reads that: Economic reconciliation requires an ethical process that respects Constitutionally protected rights, Treaty rights and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Métis and Indigenous Rights Critic for the NDP, Betty Nippi-Albright, is promising to re-introduce a bill that would force the government to engage in “meaningful duty-to-consult”. She says it’s needed because the province and industry have not engaged in a meaningful way when First Nations are going to be impacted.

The premier has defended the legislation.  In an Oct. 13 statement emailed to APTN News, Scott Moe said the government’s goal was to unlock Saskatchewan’s economic potential for the benefit of everyone in the province, including First Nations.

“Our government’s actions to protect and defend our exclusive constitutional jurisdiction over natural resources does not in any way diminish or detract from First Nations treaty rights, as they are enshrined in the Constitution,” Moe said.

The province’s Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre, called the legislation historic.

“It is time to draw the line and assert our constitutional rights,” Eyre stated, echoing the premier’s comments when the plan was first outlined at a Battlefords business meeting October 11.

The Act amends the Constitution of Saskatchewan and asserts what the government sees as the province’s exclusive legislative jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada.

That includes jurisdiction over exploration for non-renewable natural resources, the development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural and forestry resources, and the operation of sites and facilities for the generation and production of electrical energy.

The Moe government claims the federal government’s environmental polices would cost the province $111-billion over 12 years.

The FSIN hinted last month it may pursue legal recourse. It said when the province ignores its constitutional obligations to consult on important policies, First Nations have no choice but to consider their legal options.

April 20, 2023


Former Treaty 6 Grand Chief calls for Alberta council on reconciliation

Comments come after Alberta refused to meet with UN special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples

Littlechild sits at a table and speaks into a microphone.
Former Treaty 6 Chief Wilton Littlechild spoke at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Wednesday. (United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues)

CBC News: Wilton Littlechild, former Treaty 6 grand chief and former commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, called for an Alberta-specific council on reconciliation during a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday. 

Littlechild was speaking to the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. In his statement, he highlighted Pope Francis’s apology to people who suffered in residential schools and his repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery as examples of healing and reconciliation. 

He also referenced the recent visit to Canada of the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. José Francisco Calí Tzay spent 10 days in March meeting with Indigenous leaders, human rights groups and government officials in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. 

“I regret that the government of Alberta declined my invitation to meet, especially considering the concerning situation of Indigenous Peoples in the province,” Calí Tzay wrote in his end of mission statement. “It’s very disappointing that Alberta would do this because it had the highest number of Indian residential schools in Canada,” Littlechild said at the UN.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Alberta’s Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson said he “respectfully declined a meeting with the United Nations special rapporteur, as the federal government is best-suited to discuss its record on Indigenous Peoples.”

Regarding Littlechild’s request for an Alberta council on reconciliation, Wilson said in the statement he is open to any proposals that promote reconciliation, and added the province has promised $9 million over the next three years to support Indigenous-led reconciliation initiatives. 

Calí Tzay met with federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller during the visit.

The province’s relationship with Indigenous leadership has been fraught, especially following the introduction of the Alberta Sovereignty Act last year, which proponents said will limit perceived federal incursions into provincial jurisdiction.  Chiefs from Treaties 6, 7 and 8 spoke out against the bill in November and expressed concerns about the act’s interference in Crown and Indigenous relations.

“Premier Smith wants to do a sovereignty act. Well, we certainly didn’t enter into a treaty with her,” Regena Crowchild, Tsuut’ina Nation Treaty 7 adviser, said at the time.  The act passed a month later, in December 2022. 

Littlechild said the passage of the act “signals to us we have a lot more work to do” on reconciliation in the province.

March 23, 2023


FSIN condemns Sask gov’t funding reduction for First Nations

The provincial government aims to increase potash sales and raise oil production by 2030

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Bobby Cameron.Jon Perez /

NationTalk: SASKTODAY – Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron has criticized the provincial government for reducing funding to First Nations by almost nine per cent. Cameron stated that Saskatchewan’s economy primarily relies on natural resources from their ancestral lands and Treaty Territories. Yet, First Nations communities are being excluded from revenue-sharing programs that could address addiction and mental health issues.

According to the FSIN, the provincial budget aims to position Saskatchewan as a global leader in exploring and mining critical minerals, with 23 of the 31 on the Canadian Critical Minerals list found in the area. However, funding to First Nations was reduced by 8.76 per cent, excluding gaming payments.

“There has not been one First Nation [community] in the province to report a positive experience of consultation or accommodation, let alone revenue sharing. Still, the province continues to benefit [and share] its resources with cities, towns, resort towns and villages, and rural municipalities — everyone but First Nations,” said Cameron. 

“The province tells the public that First Nations benefit from its program while it continues to leave First Nations communities out of programs like the rural marshal’s service and revenue sharing from gas tax revenue. No resource revenue currently goes directly to First Nations [communities].” 

Cameron stated that the provincial government shares revenues from large-scale projects with different Saskatchewan communities but not First Nations communities. He criticized the government for failing to consult or accommodate First Nations communities and not sharing resource revenue directly with them.

The provincial government has over 80 large-scale project commitments with a total investment of $32 billion in Saskatchewan, including increasing potash sales to $9 billion, doubling the forestry industry’s size and raising oil production to 600,000 barrels daily by 2030.

FSIN Fourth Vice Chief Heather Bear supported Cameron’s statements, stating that First Nations’ inherent and Treaty rights need to be accommodated. She accused the province of having a bad track record of leaving opportunities for First Nations communities.

Bear emphasized that before soliciting investments from around the globe, the province needs to consult with First Nations leaders to guarantee that inherent and Treaty rights are not infringed upon and that they are included in economic opportunities in the area.

“All these critical minerals are within First Nations’ ancestral and Treaty territory. The budget commits $4.0 million to expand Targeted Mineral Exploration Incentives, including exploration drilling for all hard-rock minerals and increases the funding limit to support emerging commodities,’ said Bear. 

“However, before Saskatchewan solicits investments from around the globe, they need to ensure that they consult with First Nations [leaders] to guarantee Inherent and Treaty rights are not infringed upon and that we are included in economic opportunities in the province we inhabit. Once non-renewable resources are extracted from the ground, they are gone forever. Once the wealth has been dispersed and spent, it’s gone.” 

The provincial government’s 2023-2024 budget includes the highest-ever Municipal Revenue Sharing at $297.9 million, but First Nations communities are not included in this revenue sharing. The FSIN stated that their communities must find ways to fund their infrastructure projects, road maintenance, and other expenses to improve their facilities.

The budget invests $7.0 million to establish the new Saskatchewan Marshals Service (SMS) to increase policing capacity in rural and remote areas. However, the province must include First Nations governments in developing this service.

The budget also includes $249.1 million in target funding for Indigenous and Métis people and organizations, but First Nations are not mentioned in the budget, and the financing of the Indigenous-owned contractors’ part of the Accelerated Site Closure Program was cut.

The FSIN called for a resource revenue-sharing agreement to ensure First Nations people are included in employment opportunities, and First Nations-run companies are considered for contracts for every project. The organization also emphasized that the province needs to consult with First Nations leaders to guarantee their inherent and Treaty rights are not infringed upon.

March 19, 2019

Fed. Govt.

Funding for National Council for Reconciliation

Deferring the budget decision to fund the National Council for Reconciliation until AFTER the next election. The Interim Board of Directors appointed in Dec. 2017 submitted their interim report to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs on June 12, 2018. The 2020 fiscal year beginning April 1, 2020 will be almost five years since the TRC Summary Report was issued on June 2, 2015 and almost 2 years since the National Council interim board submitted their report on June 2018 with detailed recommendations on mandate, scope, budget, reporting, governance etc. This will be the third government since the TRC Summary Report was issued: Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau (2 x).Make that 3x and no progress as of Dec. 5, 2021)

April 1, 2022

Government of Québec reneges on Indigenous commitments

CISION: Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador

  • refusal to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act
  • refusal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position
  • refusal to establish an Assistant Commissioner and team to address issue impacting Indigenous children

Le Devoir recently published an article announcing that the Government of Quebec would not be honoring its commitment to include the notion of cultural safety in its Health and Social Services Act, thus feeding the insecurities experienced by First Nations within this system.

Far from being a true understanding of the realities faced by First Nations people who experience racism and discrimination in public services, this earlier commitment by the CAQ was made in response to the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan and the subsequent complaints of other Indigenous patients at the Joliette hospital. This was also one of the recommendations of the Viens commission report (C.E.R.P.).

This legislative measure was but a very small weapon to fight such a great scourge as racism in the health and social services system and now, Quebec is backtracking and refusing to implement this timid measure. Asked by Le Devoir about this change of heart, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, said that despite this setback, his government was still “discussing the idea”.

“Fighting systemic racism against First Nations will take more than words. The CAQ government prefers to isolate itself in its denial of the very existence of systemic racism that threatens the well-being and safety of First Nations people, even though its existence has been denounced in every forum, by the public and by the commissions of inquiry as well as by the opposition parties. Only the CAQ government does not see systemic racism in its public services,” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.

In the same article published by Le Devoir, we learn that the CAQ has also rejected a proposal to establish a new Protector of Indigenous students position, an idea consistent with recommendations of the Viens Commission. The minister’s argument in support of this decision is that there will be one protector for all students. This reasoning is problematic because the inequalities that exist between Indigenous students and their non-Indigenous counterparts will require adapted measures to eliminate the gap in educational achievement that exists between these populations. Also of note is Minister Carman’s exclusion of the recommendation to establish an Assistant Commissioner position and a team dedicated exclusively to issues impacting Indigenous children with the Commissioner of well-being and the rights of children, proposed in the framework of the Commission Laurent. By insisting on a one size fits all approach, the government is in fact reinforcing the inequities that First Nations students continue to experience within the education system.

Refusal to include cultural safety in legislation, refusal to take specific measures to support First Nations in their pursuit of academic achievement, refusal to recognize systemic racism, etc. The AFNQL Chiefs are saying that the government’s systematic denial of the unique realities experienced by First Nations has gone on for far too long. Faced with a provincial government that prides itself on being proactive and seeking concrete solutions, it is easy to see why First Nations are just not buying the good faith rhetoric being peddled by this government.

March 8, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Governor General shares abusive comments she received through social media

Mary Simon’s office shut down comments on her official social media accounts last month after a wave of abuse

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon released a statement saying she wants to promote more respectful dialogue in light of the abuse she’s received. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

WARNING: This story cites racist, sexist and abusive comments directed at the Governor General.

CBC News: Nearly a month after turning off comments on her official social media accounts, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon is sharing some of the hateful remarks that were directed at her. On Wednesday, Simon’s office posted a video on her Instagram that highlighted some of the comments. The video shows a series of racist, sexist and otherwise abusive remarks — some of which are directed at Simon’s Indigenous heritage.

Simon addressed the comments in a statement released to mark International Women’s Day. “Many detractors will say that women should just learn to have a thicker skin, to take a joke. If they can’t take it, stay out of the line of fire. Others will say online abuse is part of the role of a public figure, even though the equivalent spoken words would be condemned,” she said.

“I must respectfully disagree.”

Simon said she wanted to use the occasion to promote respectful discourse. “I am speaking about this for others who cannot, for fear of reprisal or retribution. But my hope is that others will join me. We must continue to speak about the repercussions of harmful discourse, and to push back against those who would denigrate women for their contributions,” she said.

Appointed to the role in 2021, Simon is the first Indigenous person to hold the office of Governor General. “I cannot and will not just brush off or ignore comments, or offer a platform for the spreading of stereotypes and tropes that I have spent a lifetime opposing,” Simon said in her statement.

“These words hurt Indigenous peoples and damage the progress we have made together towards reconciliation.”

March 30, 2023


Higgs pitches First Nations on up to $1.6B in revenue with possible shale gas expansion

Pabineau First Nation Chief Terry Richardson says he’s opposed to any new fracking

A man wearing a suit and tie speaks from a podium. Behind him are the Canadian and New Brunswick flags.
Premier Blaine Higgs says the development of shale gas could be a ‘game changer’ in terms of potential revenue for First Nations communities. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

CBC News: Premier Blaine Higgs is pitching First Nations on hefty revenue potential if they agree to allow new shale gas development in New Brunswick. But at least one Mi’kmaw chief is already standing in opposition to any new potential fracking because of environmental concerns and worries that it’s being used as a political bargaining chip.

Higgs confirmed in an interview that his government sent all chiefs a letter this month outlining how they could potentially see between $800 million and $1.6 billion in revenue — shared among them over 20 years — if a shale gas reserve near Sussex is further developed. “The potential opportunity for First Nations is an absolute game changer for every First Nations community in this province,” Higgs said.

Industrial facilities and equipment can be seen in the background of a farmer's field.
Higgs said new shale gas development in an area near Sussex known as the McCully Field could tap into a reserve containing a trillion cubic feet of natural gas. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

The move by the Higgs government signals the premier’s latest efforts to reignite the industry after former premier Brian Gallant imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2014 following violent protests. The process of fracking involves injecting a mixture of sand, chemicals and usually water into the ground under high pressure to break rock and capture natural gas that couldn’t be obtained otherwise.

It has drawn opposition over fears it could endanger the groundwater supply and potentially have other harmful environmental effects.

Tax-sharing agreement held hostage: chief

The province’s proposal wasn’t well received by Chief Terry Richardson of Pabineau First Nation in northeastern New Brunswick, near Bathurst. That’s because it came as he, and other Mi’kmaw chiefs, are months away from seeing an end to tax-revenue-sharing agreements that brought millions to communities annually. Higgs announced he was ending those agreements in 2021, sparking backlash from both Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaw leaders.

A middle-aged man wearing an orange baseball hat.
Pabineau First Nation Chief Terry Richardson says he’s opposed to the idea of resuming hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

Now Richardson said he feels like Higgs is “holding this tax agreement hostage” as a way to get approval for fracking. “I mean that’s what he’s basically doing, is saying ‘Well, I took your tax agreement away, but here, look at all this money you can make by agreeing to fracking,'” Richardson said.

Richardson said he’s mainly concerned about potential environmental impacts from fracking, adding he hasn’t seen any new information to allay those concerns.

And even if he was on board with lifting the moratorium, he doesn’t think it would go over well with his community members. “I don’t think it’s gonna fly,” Richardson said. “We have to revisit this in our communities and see what our community’s perspective is, but I’m almost safe in 100 per cent saying that … unless the technology has changed, there would be a lack of of support for this.”

Protesters stand near a burned out vehicle lying on a street.
Shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick prompted protests resulting in RCMP vehicles being burned and dozens of protesters being arrested in Rexton in fall of 2013. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. represents Mi’kmaw communities in New Brunswick. Spokesperson Jennifer Coleman said in an email that staff have submitted a proposal to the province regarding resource revenue sharing. “Under that proposal, all projects would be subject to a rights impact assessment,” Coleman said. “We are still waiting to have a meeting on that proposal.”

The Wolastoqey Nation, which represents Wolastoqey communities in the province, declined to comment.

In 2019, Higgs quietly carved out a small exemption to the Liberal moratorium for an area near Sussex where Headwater Exploration, formerly known as Corridor Resources, was already extracting gas. If the moratorium were to be lifted in order to allow new fracking to take place, certain conditions would have to be met, including setting up a process for the province to meet its duty to consult with First Nations.

Higgs said an area known as McCully Field near Sussex is the only site currently being looked at for expanded shale gas extraction. With the field containing about a trillion cubic feet of natural gas, he said it could supply domestic markets to off-set the reliance on burning coal for electricity, and it could supply European markets looking to turn away from Russian gas.

‘An extraordinary opportunity’: energy analyst

The prospect of getting First Nations leaders to agree to expanding shale gas extraction in the McCully Field would be “massive” for New Brunswick, said Todd McDonald, president of Energy Atlantica, an energy consulting and trading firm. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity,” McDonald said.

A man wearing a grey blazer standing in front of a white background
Energy Atlantica president Todd McDonald says new shale gas developments could satisfy local markets and the leftovers could be exported to other countries. (Energy Atlantica)

He’s been in the industry for 20 years and said he’s seen the highs and lows of market prices for shale gas. Still, he said the business case for extracting shale gas in New Brunswick is “viable,” considering consumers here are paying four times more than consumers in Alberta, where the gas is imported from. “The first portion of any new natural gas could go to meet our own needs … then as we produce more gas than what we need we would actually have gas to export.”

Limited window to acquire ‘social license’

While there might be a business case for shale gas right now, that’s not guaranteed to last, said Herb Emery, an economist at the University of New Brunswick. That’s because natural gas — while cleaner than other fossil fuels — is supposed to only be a “transitional” energy source to be phased out as green energy sources take precedent, he said.

A man standing in front of a CBC New Brunswick TV
Economist Herb Emery says it’s going to take about a decade to develop the resource and get it to market. (CBC)

That means New Brunswick has a limited window to fulfil its duty to consult First Nations, acquire the “social license” to lift the fracking moratorium, and then obtain federal regulatory approvals. “In order for it to be viable in New Brunswick you’d need to resolve those three things … probably within a time scale of a few years, not a decade, because you’re still going to take about a decade to develop the resource and get it to market,” he said.


Aidan Cox, Journalist

Aidan Cox is a journalist for the CBC based in Fredericton. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter @Aidan4jrn.

January 11, 2023


Higgs’s ‘new partnership’ plan highlights gulf in understanding with First Nations

Funding proposal tied to measurable targets, tax surrender at odds with Indigenous vision

Terry Richardson, chief of Pabineau First Nation, says the government’s proposal would take away the flexibility band governments have with the tax revenue. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

CBC News: To some First Nations chiefs in New Brunswick, the “new partnership” the Higgs government is offering them looks a lot like old-style paternalism

The province’s proposal to replace the existing tax-sharing agreement is another example of the vast philosophical chasm between Premier Blaine Higgs and First Nations. The government wants the bands to surrender any power or ability they have to impose and collect gas and tobacco taxes on reserve.

Instead, they’d receive provincial funding for housing, health care, social assistance and education — but subject to strict timelines for three phases of negotiations, and with “measurable goals” laid out in signed agreements.

Chief Patricia Bernard of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation said the government’s proposal treats First Nations ‘as if we’re children.’ (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

“That’s very paternalistic and controlling, and it assumes that we don’t know what we’re doing,” Madawaska Maliseet First Nations Chief Patricia Bernard told CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton. “It assumes a sort of ‘wards of the state’ kind of approach. It assumes that we can’t manage our own revenue … It’s going back in time.” 

‘Where do we go from there?’

Six Wolastoqey First Nations will see their lucrative tax-sharing agreements with the province expire at the end of this month. Deals with Mi’kmaq communities end Dec. 31. “The tax agreement has allowed us to grow, but if you’re going to take that away from us, where do we go from there?” said Pabineau First Nation Chief Terry Richardson. “That’s the problem.”

Higgs announced in 2021 that he would terminate the agreements.

They require the province to remit 95 per cent of provincial gas, tobacco and fuel sales tax revenue collected on reserves to the First Nation government. Higgs called the agreements “outdated,” and he and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn have been promising a more modern initiative since then.

“We’re talking about a new partnership, a new way forward,” Dunn said in the legislature in June 2021. Early on, she floated the idea of signing “resource revenue-sharing agreements for forestry and mining” but she’s no longer talking about that concept.

Shortly after the termination announcement in 2021, Richardson offered the province one-on-one negotiations on a new tax agreement with Pabineau that would cap the amount returned to the band. That went nowhere, he said Tuesday. “Initially in our talks, the premier had said everything was on the table. Then all of a sudden the cap came off the table.” 

Dunn hasn’t been made available for interviews this week but her department provided CBC News a 24-page package with details of the province’s current proposal. 

Pieces of paper with black text.
The draft agreement template says each First Nation is best able to determine its needs but any project must have ‘measurable goals.’ (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

The document includes proposed templates for agreements on social funding, as well as a December letter from Dunn to Wolastoqey chiefs and a table showing the amount of tax transfers to First Nations over the years. In the nine-page letter, Dunn said the province agrees that the federal government, normally responsible for funding on-reserve social services, hasn’t done enough.

The province is “prepared to provide the necessary funds through a new economic partnership” focused on housing, health care, social assistance and education — which she said the chiefs themselves identified as priorities. The blank draft-agreement template said each First Nation “is best able to determine its needs and goals” but stipulates that any projects must be “intended to achieve measurable outcomes” and have “measurable goals.”

Signing away tax revenue

There’s a strict timeline for three phases of negotiations, including space to fill in dates and a commitment that the province and each First Nation will jointly prepare annual reports. The blank sample agreements on housing include lines to be filled in identifying the number of homes, the amount of money, criteria and “milestones.”

In “Schedule D,” each First Nation would agree to require all retailers on reserves to get licences and collect taxes like any off-reserve business would, while agreeing not to sell gasoline or tobacco at lower than local market prices. 

In essence, they’d be signing away the tax revenue they’ve enjoyed for almost three decades.

A woman with glasses and shoulder-length brown hair sits on a yellow couch.
Nicole O’Byrne, an associate law professor at UNB, says reserve tax laws could create exactly the kind of turmoil the sharing agreements were designed to avoid. (Mag Hood/Submitted by Nicole O’Byrne)

University of New Brunswick law professor Nicole O’Byrne, who is spending this academic year researching the legal history of the tax deals, said the province and First Nations “have completely different understandings” of the issue, “and that’s the tension.” 

The province is treating the bands “like another group that needs socioeconomic bolstering, which is not how First Nations see this. They see this as rights-based,” she said. “The right to tax their people and spend the revenue from it is the essence of self-government, and that’s what’s at issue with the cancellation of these tax revenue-sharing agreements. I’m not sure the provincial government understands the full scope of that.”

Richardson said the provincial proposal would take away the flexibility band governments have with the tax revenue, which they can spend where it’s needed most in a given year.  “What limitations are they going to put on it? Because right now we have some leniency where we’re able to move funds around,” he said.

‘It’s as if we’re children’

Bernard, whose reserve adjacent to Edmundston has brought in the most tax revenue of any First Nation in the province, accuses Higgs of not wanting Indigenous communities to succeed and to benefit from that success.

The premier prefers chiefs coming “with hat in hand” to ask for funding, she said. “It’s as if we’re children.” She said that’s why her band decided to draft its own tax laws rather than negotiate with the province. “We didn’t even bother. Why enter into something that they’re going to control?” she said.

O’Byrne said reserve tax laws could undercut off-reserve retailers and create exactly the kind of turmoil the sharing agreements were designed to avoid.

Chief Bernard says she believes Premier Higgs is unable to acknowledge the nature of the Indigenous relationship. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

A spokesperson for Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., which represents the nine Mi’kmaq First Nations, said the organization wants the province to sign new deals giving them “greater control over taxation and resource revenues in our territory.” If the province rejects that, “we will be exploring other legal options,” MTI said in a statement.

In her letter to Wolastoqey chiefs, Dunn rejects the idea the province is forcing First Nations into court. “That is your choice and not as a result of any action of the Province,” she wrote.

But Bernard said the stalemate is because of Higgs’s inability to acknowledge the nature of the Indigenous relationship.  “He refuses to see this particular jurisdictional issue from our perspective,” she said.

“The bottom line to it all is he sees this as New Brunswick’s money. We see this as our money. We’re sharing with you, and he sees it as him giving to us. It’s just a paradigm shift he needs to make that he cannot seem to do.” 


Jacques Poitras

Provincial Affairs reporter

Jacques Poitras has been CBC’s provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. He grew up in Moncton and covered Parliament in Ottawa for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. He has reported on every New Brunswick election since 1995 and won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Newspaper Awards and Amnesty International. He is also the author of five non-fiction books about New Brunswick politics and history. 

March 27, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Indigenous groups hope for infrastructure dollars and economic development in budget

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami looking for 35-year, $75B commitment for community infrastructure

Natan obed
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed says he would like more money to be allocated in the federal budget for infrastructure in Inuit communities. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

CBC News – The Canadian Press – Prominent Indigenous organizations are making major requests of the federal government in its upcoming budget, seeking billions in investments for infrastructure and economic development. But with affordability issues at the top of the agenda and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland promising fiscal restraint, it’s unclear where those requests will land on the Liberals’ list of priorities.

In addition to offering relief to Canadians who are struggling with high prices, the budget is also expected to include money to advance Canada’s green energy transition and keep the country competitive with the United States, which is aggressively funding clean technology with its Inflation Reduction Act.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed says that despite the government’s talk of restraint, it will still be spending billions — and he hopes that includes a 35-year, $75-billion commitment for infrastructure in Inuit communities. “There is going to be money spent in this budget, so as this government is talking about this being a very lean budget, there will still be billions of dollars,” he said in a recent interview.

“I certainly hope that the work that we have all done together is funded in a way that is consistent with the relationship that we’ve built over the past seven and a half years.”

Obed said the requests included in the organization’s pre-budget submission came out of discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government at the Inuit Crown-partnership committee table. “It isn’t just us bringing numbers out of thin air,” he said.

The organization also requested about $131 million over seven years with the goal of eliminating tuberculosis in Inuit regions by 2030. Obed said Trudeau’s government has committed to that timeline, but hasn’t shown how it will achieve the goal. “We have no guarantees that (the) government of Canada will fund the remaining work that is necessary to eliminate tuberculosis,” he said.

Trudeau has named advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples as one of his government’s main priorities since it came to power in 2015. Last year’s budget, however, fell short of expectations when it came to improving and building more housing on First Nations, which has been long identified as an issue for many communities across Canada.

Billions needed for housing

Indigenous communities face a deteriorated housing stock, and leaders and experts have said there is not enough available to support population growth.

Ahead of the 2022 federal budget, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) — which advocates for the needs of more than 600 First Nations communities — pegged that $44 billion was needed to fix on-reserve housing. Ottawa ended up committing $4.3 billion to support housing in Indigenous communities over seven years, with $2.4 billion flowing specifically to on-reserve housing needs.

For the upcoming budget, the AFN anticipates that meeting the “current and future housing needs of First Nations” through to 2040 accounting for population group would cost around $63.3 billion, according to a submission prepared ahead of the spending plan. It says such spending is needed “to address the overrepresentation of First Nations people among those experiencing homelessness.”

Fund for Métis businesses

For her part, Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron said in a statement that she hopes the next budget includes funding for the organization to create an economic development fund specifically targeted to help Métis businesses.

In its submission to the federal government, the organization says Métis communities are unable to access funds through two existing programs that Indigenous Services Canada runs to support economic development.

Cassidy Caron, President of the  Métis National Council, takes part in an announcement in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2023, regarding funding to support Métis-led engagement that will inform the development of an Indigenous Justice Strategy.
Cassidy Caron, President of the Métis National Council, says she would like an economic development fund specifically targeted to help Métis businesses. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

It also recommends that the federal government provide funding to help create Métis business directories. “Long-term, sustainable investments will help our citizens, communities and businesses weather current and future challenges,” Caron said.

The federal government had also signalled in its fall economic statement that it planned to develop a new framework to “ensure” that First Nations and other Indigenous communities “can directly benefit from major resource projects” developed on their lands, with more details to be provided this year.

A presentation prepared by the Assembly of First Nations for its special chiefs assembly last December shows it was anticipating seeing some policy options on the matter in early 2023 and then finalizing a framework sometime between April and December.

Native Women’s Association of Canada CEO Lynne Groulx said that besides an ask for more stable federal funding, the group hopes that Ottawa’s budget will fund at least two new healing lodges, which she said provide safe spaces for Indigenous women and survivors of residential schools.

Groulx said a lodge can range in cost from $3 million to $5 million. She added that funding such projects directly relates to the government’s commitment to implement the calls to action from the 2019 final report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

“I think we need as many of these healing centres, gathering centres … as we had residential schools,” she said.

March 18, 2023


Indigenous groups signal upcoming legal battle over Sask. First Act

FSIN vows to mount legal challenge to Sask. First Act
Indigenous leaders and groups were at the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday where the Saskatchewan First Act bill received a final reading.
Indigenous leaders and groups were at the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday for the Saskatchewan First Act bill’s final reading. (Radio-Canada)

CBC News: The Saskatchewan First Act was borne out of meetings and consultations, but its a lack of consultation with Indigenous communities that has the act destined for a courtroom.

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Party government members voted unanimously to pass the act, known as Bill 88. The government has said the bill is meant to assert provincial jurisdiction and prevent federal government intrusion. Usually, bills pass with little fanfare outside of cheers and the sounds of hands slapping desks on the governing party’s side of the aisle. That happened on Thursday, but it was the presence of a large opposition in the public galleries that stole the attention.

Approximately 150 people from First Nations and Métis communities packed the benches to watch the proceedings.

As Opposition NDP members stood to vote no, the gallery stood as well — an unusual sight in the legislature. Perhaps more unusual was the fact that many in the gallery on Thursday morning also watched committee on Wednesday in person.

On Wednesday, the Opposition introduced a motion in committee to have Indigenous guests appear as witnesses and give testimony about Bill 88, but that was voted down by Saskatchewan Party committee members.

Following proceedings on Thursday, Premier Scott Moe said the government was not bothered by the presence of opposition to the bill saying, it was democracy in action. “We’re very appreciative of when folks engaged at committee last night and engage today. We can be thankful for the democracy we have. And when people engage in that democracy, most certainly we’re a government that’s going to meet them and have those conversations as we have over the last number of months,” he said.

Moe said he planned to meet with some people in attendance Thursday. Moe called the discussions over the past few months “admittedly what is a sensitive conversation that we’re finding our way through as we look ahead.”

Lack of consultations could lead to legal action

For First Nations and Métis leaders, the crux of the issue is an alleged lack of meaningful conversations, both in advance of the creation of the bill and leading up to its passage.

Last summer, Premier Scott Moe appointed now-former MLA Lyle Stewart and former Saskatchewan Party MLA Allan Kerpan to lead a series of closed-door meetings on how Saskatchewan could increase its provincial autonomy. Those meetings were coupled with town halls hosted by Sask. Party MLAs in various communities in the province.

The result was a white paper titled Drawing the Line: Defending Saskatchewan’s Economic Autonomy. It was released in October 2022. In November, the government introduced its flagship piece of legislation, the Saskatchewan First Act

Almost immediately, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) spoke out against the bill. Both said they were not consulted and the bill violated inherent and treaty rights. On Thursday, the FSIN issued a news release before the bill passed. “FSIN will take legal action to oppose the Act, as it infringes on First Nations Inherent and Treaty Rights to land, water, and resources.”

Several people sit at a long table in a conference room. Feathered headdresses sit on the table in front of many of the people.
Dozens of First Nations leaders gathered in Saskatoon on Dec. 16, 2022, as a public show of unity in their opposition to the Saskatchewan First Act. (Sam Samson/CBC)

In the legislature rotunda following the vote, MN-S vice president Michelle LeClair said the organization’s legal department was looking at the issue. “We need to caucus with all of our people involved, because one thing we do right as Métis people and as First Nations people is, we do consult our communities. We talk to our communities and get their advice. Where are we going? What are we gonna do? How are we gonna react?” Leclair said.

“That’s something we don’t see in this in this government or in this house.”

Government amends bill

The government made an 11th-hour change to Bill 88 by introducing an amendment to include the following clause: “Nothing in the Act abrogates or derogates from the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”

The government could have introduced the amendment at any time since the bill was introduced in November. 

When asked if the government is ignoring treaty rights, Moe said, “nothing could be further from the truth. It’s our government, it’s a member from Athabasca, Jim Lemaigre that actually introduced the amendment that was passed that reaffirms not only treaty rights that are in the Constitution in Bill 88, but really reaffirms this government stance that not only do we respect treaty rights in this province and those of those rights that our First Nations and Métis individuals have.”

What happens next?

The FSIN is promising legal action and MN-S is hinting at it, but questions remain on what the bill will actually do in practice. First Nations and Métis leaders, and Saskatchewan’s Treaty commissioner, have spoken out against the bills preamble regarding provincial jurisdiction, which points to the controversial 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreement between the federal and provincial government, an agreement Indigenous people have been at odds with because they say they were never consulted before that deal was reached. 

On Thursday, Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Henry Lewis said in a letter, “we only allowed the Crown to use our lands to the depth of a plough. We still retain full access over control and jurisdiction over the natural resources in our territories.”

Lewis called Bill 88 a “step backwards.” “The autonomy that Saskatchewan claims with Bill 88 over its land and resources came at the expense of our ancestors and our livelihoods.” Lewis said he is concerned Bill 88 will lead to future Crown land sales without proper consultation.

Onion Lake Cree Nation, which borders Saskatchewan and Alberta, is suing the Alberta government over its Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Harry Lewis stands on a podium addressing the media. Council members and lawyers stand behind him.
In Dec., 2022, Onion Lake Cree Nation Chief Herry Lewis announced a lawsuit against the province of Alberta over its Alberta Sovereignty Act within a United Canada. (Manuel Carrillos Avalos/CBC)

Saskatchewan’s Opposition justice critic Nicole Sarauer said she expects legal action. “I imagine this legislation will be challenged in court by Indigenous leadership prior to [government] being able to use it federally. I have a feeling this will be challenged very quickly.” She called on the government to send the bill to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal for a legal opinion. Sarauer said the bill will not change battles between the province and Ottawa.

Mitch McAdam, the director of Saskatchewan Constitutional Law Branch, said in committee on Wednesday that Bill 88 is a “novel” and “interesting” exercise and “not one that other provinces have embarked on, so there are not a lot of precedents to follow.”

When asked if the bill had legal weight, Minister of Justice Bronwyn Eyre said the government feels it does. “It certainly isn’t carving out new powers,” Eyre told the committee. She pointed to one element — the creation of an economic tribunal that will look at the economic impacts of federal policies. Eyre said that could be used to support a legal challenge.

The director of the province's Constitutional Law Branch, Mitch McAdam (left), and Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre (right) take questions regarding the Saskatchewan First Act and its related amendments aimed to outline provincial jurisdiction over natural resources.
The director of the province’s Constitutional Law Branch, Mitch McAdam, left, and Saskatchewan Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre, right, speak about the Saskatchewan First Act in November 2022. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

On Wednesday, Sarauer and the NDP called for an amendment to the bill to include Indigenous representation on the tribunal, but that amendment was voted down by Sask. Party committee members.

McAdam and Eyre said the contents of the act will be helpful in future court cases. “We believe that those provisions will have an impact if and when we end up in court arguing about these matters in the future,” McAdam said. McAdam said the bill is not an attempt to change jurisdiction, but “an important statement to make about provincial jurisdiction.”


Adam Hunter, Journalist 

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him:

November 15, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Indigenous Services Canada did not provide First Nations communities with support to manage emergencies

Auditor-General of Canada: Ottawa —A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled today in the House of Commons found that Indigenous Services Canada did not provide First Nations communities with the support they need to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies such as floods and wildfires, which are increasing in both frequency and intensity. Over the last 13 years, more than 1,300 emergencies have occurred in First Nations communities, causing more than 130,000 people to be evacuated and displaced.

The audit found that First Nations communities had identified many infrastructure projects that would mitigate the impact of emergencies. The department has a backlog of 112 of these infrastructure projects that it has approved but not funded. Meanwhile, it is spending 3.5 times more money on responding to and recovering from emergencies than on providing communities with the support that would help them prevent these emergencies or enhance their abilities to respond to them. Indigenous Services Canada’s actions were consistently more reactive than preventative. According to Public Safety Canada, for every $1 invested in preparedness and mitigation, $6 can be saved in emergency response and recovery costs.

Many of the issues noted in this audit were first raised in the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s 2013 audit of emergency management on reserves. For example, Indigenous Services Canada still had not identified which First Nations communities most need support to increase their capacity to prepare for emergencies. If the department identified these communities, it could target investments accordingly—for example, to build culverts and dikes to prevent or reduce the impact of seasonal floods. This would help to minimize costs that the department is currently incurring to help First Nations communities respond to and recover from emergencies.

The audit also found that Indigenous Services Canada did not know whether First Nations communities received services that were culturally appropriate and comparable to those provided to similar non‑Indigenous communities.

“Over the last 4 fiscal years, Indigenous Services Canada has spent about $828 million on emergency management,” said Ms. Hogan. “Funding and building approved infrastructure projects, such as culverts and dikes to prevent seasonal floods, would help minimize the impact on people and the cost of responding to and recovering from emergencies.”

– 30 –

The 2022 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 8—Emergency Management in First Nations Communities—Indigenous Services Canada is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

Please visit our Media Room for more information.


8.32 Indigenous Services Canada should work with First Nations to implement a risk-based approach to inform program planning and decisions on where to invest in preparedness and mitigation activities to maximize support to communities at highest risk of being affected by emergencies.

8.36 Indigenous Services Canada should work with First Nations communities to address the backlogs of eligible but unfunded structural mitigation projects and of unreviewed structural mitigation projects to effectively allocate resources to reduce the impact of emergencies on First Nationscommunities.

8.39 Indigenous Services Canada should, on the basis of an assessment of risks, regularly update outdated departmental and regional emergency management plans and take immediate action to develop regional emergency management plans for the 3 regions that do not have them. These plans should be used to make informed decisions and take concrete actions to assist First Nations communities with managing the risks related to emergencies.

8.42 Indigenous Services Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, should determine how many emergency management coordinator positions are required and allocate funding for these positions on the basis of risk and need to ensure that First Nations have sustained capacity to manage emergencies.

8.62 Indigenous Services Canada should, in collaboration with First Nations, provincial governments, and other service providers, ensure that First Nations communities receive the emergency management services they need by:

  • establishing emergency management service agreements and wildfire agreements in all jurisdictions that include all First Nations
  • establishing mutually agreed-upon evacuation service standards in the jurisdictions that lack such standards
  • increasing support for First Nations–led approaches to emergency management8.66 Indigenous Services Canada should develop performance indicators to allow the department
    to measure progress against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and use these indicators to track and report publicly on progress.

8.68 Indigenous Services Canada should, in collaboration with First Nations, provincial governments, and other service providers, ensure that First Nations communities receive the emergency management services they need by

  • defining what is meant by comparable services for First Nations in relation to those available to municipalities of similar size and circumstance in each jurisdiction
  • monitoring the services provided to First Nations to ensure that they are comparable to services provided to non-Indigenous communities, are culturally appropriate, and address the needs of marginalized groups
  • identifying and addressing shortcomings by monitoring emergency management service agreements and conducting lessons-learned exercises

To view the complete report including the government responses click on the following link.

May 23, 2023


Joint Declaration by the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre and its Allies – Reaction to the Unacceptable and Disgraceful comments made by MNA Pierre Dufour

NationTalk: VAL-D’OR, QC – The homelessness situation in Val-d’Or, with its complexity and Indigenous particularity, combined with the feeling of insecurity expressed by the citizens of the downtown area, made the municipality fall back into a tense social climate that polarizes and rekindled divisions within the population. It is clear that healing and reconciliation, since the events of 2015, are still far from being achieved.

During the public meeting of the Val-d’Or City Council on May 15, Pierre Dufour, MNA for Abitibi-Est, made unacceptable and disgraceful comments that are unworthy of a government representative. As an elected official, Mr. Dufour has failed in his duty. His position as a MNA confers on him an influence over the citizens; his comments, instead of contributing to the solution of a major societal problem, are detrimental to social peace, to initiatives of reconciliation between peoples and collaborative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations organisations and institutions working in the field.

At a time when public speaking is encouraged and confidence in the justice system is a top government priority, the MNA’s oratory rants discredit the testimony of courageous victims. He is reopening wounds that have barely healed among Indigenous women and the general public alike. His comments encourage a radicalisation of discourse that opens the door to the expression of systemic racism and discrimination. Mr. Dufour’s words clearly run counter to efforts at reconciliation, reparation and recognition, and move us further away from an egalitarian and inclusive society that reflects today’s Quebec.

Such comments also undermine the democratic process of the Viens Commission on relations between Indigenous people and certain public services in Quebec. The recommendations of this Commission, which was set up by the Quebec government following denunciations of abuses experienced by Indigenous women at the hands of Val-d’Or police officers, open the door to a new dialogue and to responsible and positive commitments. In October 2019, when publicly apologizing to First Nations and Inuit for the harm caused, Premier François Legault stressed that “The findings made by the Commissioner are damning, the Quebec state is not doing enough and this situation is unworthy of Quebec society.”.

With this joint declaration, the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre and its allies express their disavowal. It is by standing in solidarity and working together to build social justice that we contribute today to maintaining a dignified Quebec and prepare a better future for future generations.Signatories:

Oscar Kistabish, President
Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre

Marjolaine Étienne, President
Quebec Native Women

France-Isabelle Langlois, Director General
Amnistie internationale Canada francophone

Peggie Jérôme, Director General
Mino Obigiwasin

Carole Lévesque, Full Professor, INRS

Suzy Basile, Professor and
Sébastien Brodeur-Girard, Professor
School of Indigenous Studies, UQAT

Tanya Sirois, Director General
Regroupement des centres d’amitié
autochtones du Québec

For further information: Nathalie Fiset, Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre, 819 825-8299, ext. 251; Émilie Deschênes, Quebec Native Women, 819 662-855

February 21, 2023

First Nations, Inuit, Métis

Jully Black’s national anthem is making headlines. What would it take to make the change official?

“Indigenous Peoples have been saying that line for decades,” said Eva Jewell, the research director at research centre Yellowhead Institute.

Toronto Star: When Canadian singer-songwriter Jully Black performed the national anthem at the NBA’s All-Star Game on Sunday, she surprised — and impressed — fans with a lyric change. Instead of singing, “our home and native land,” the R&B artist sang, “our home on native land.”

In an interview with TSN reporter Kayla Grey, Black said she had reached out to Indigenous friends for feedback, and landed on this version of the song. 

Eva Jewell, the research director at Indigenous-led research centre Yellowhead Institute, said she was “heartened” to see her rendition.  “Indigenous Peoples have been saying that line for decades actually — this is something that is known within our communities,” Jewell said. “So, to see Jully uplift that into the national anthem … it showed me that she has seen us, she understands us; she gets it.”

Have the lyrics to the national anthem changed before?

The lyrics to “O Canada” have been changed many times since the song was first written in French in 1880, but it has only been changed once since the song became the national anthem in 1980. In 2018, a bill to make the lyrics gender neutral — through the change of just two words — was signed into law. The amendment changed the anthem’s second line from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”

What was the process of changing the lyrics?

There had been several previous attempts to make the national anthem gender neutral, but it was in 2016 that Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger introduced the private member’s bill that would go on to be successful. Bélanger, who had advocated for the change for years, introduced the successful bill after being diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Because his condition was worsening quickly, the bill took on a new sense of urgency.  As with all legislation, the bill had to be approved by the House of Commons and the Senate, and required royal assent.

What led up to the “O Canada” change?

Before the bill was signed into law, a 2013 campaign advocating for the change was led by former prime minister Kim Campbell and author Margaret Atwood. 

In 2014, Bélanger introduced his first private-member’s bill to change the lyrics, which was unsuccessful.

What is unique about this moment in history?

“I think Canada and Canadians more generally … are becoming aware of the facade of Canada as a nice, multinational, peaceful country, and what it took to actually create and maintain the conditions,” Jewell said. In 2021, when it was announced that the remains of as many as 215 children were found at a former residential school near Kamloops, B.C., dialogue on Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous communities was widely renewed. Jewell said the announcement “gripped the public’s attention” and has resulted in more discourse about the history of Canada.

What impact could this lyric change have?

“I would be very surprised if it was changed,” Jewell said, explaining that she believes the government is making it difficult for Indigenous Peoples to claim their titles to lands. 

The Land Back movement has grown in recent years and encompasses different meanings, but according to Yellowhead Institute’s 2019 Land Back paper, land is central to the conflict between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians. As Indigenous Peoples attempt to claim sovereignty and exercise land rights, they are stalled against governments’ claim that the land is Canada’s, the report said.

As such, it’s hard to imagine that Canada would admit that it’s on Indigenous land in such a “publicly and socially important song,” Jewell added.  Hearing it performed this way, though, is powerful, she said. 

“I think that changing that word and being very explicit about settler colonialism is a pause for reflection amongst the Canadian public,” she said. “Too often, the Canadian state is normalized as just being a fact, and that small word change would call that into question and be really explicit about that pre-existing world of the Indigenous countries that were here before Canada violently stole our lands.”

With files from The Canadian Press and Richie Assaly

Manuela Vega is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star’s Express Desk. Follow her on Twitter: @_manuelavega

October 5, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Justice Department Shuts NWAC Out of FPT Meeting with Indigenous Leaders; Ignores Expertise on Critical Gender-based Issues

NationTalk: OTTAWA – The federal Justice department has closed the door on Canada’s largest national Indigenous women’s organization when it meets with provincial and territorial ministers next week, effectively opting not to address Indigenous gender-based issues in any meaningful way.

Though Canada recognizes five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs), including the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), only some groups will have a seat at the table. Excluding NWAC from national discussions on justice issues is a significant rebuff to the organization that is the recognized expert on matters related to Indigenous women, girls, gender-diverse, two-spirit, and transgender people in Canada.

The people represented by NWAC face high rates of incarceration, violence, and abuse – all issues that should be central to any discussion of justice. Just yesterday, NWAC honoured the thousands of Indigenous mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and girls who have gone missing or been murdered at its annual Sisters and Spirit vigil. NWAC is committed to holding Canada accountable to ending the genocide by answering the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls 231 Calls to Justice.

NWAC anticipates those with seats at the table will discuss matters that directly impact the people it represents, such as implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, Indigenous policing, mandatory minimum sentences, overincarceration and the MMIWG genocide. Indigenous women and gender-diverse people are valued leaders, decision-makers and knowledge keepers in their families, communities, and governments. Without their perspective, government discussions are unlikely to consider gender-specific solutions to undoing systemic discrimination.

If NWAC does not hold a seat at the table, Canada’s promises of reconciliation and gender-based equality remain empty.


Media Contact:

For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Gloria Galloway or 613-447-6648

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou prendre des dispositions pour une interview, contacter:

Gloria Galloway, par courriel : ou par téléphone: 613-447-6648

May 25, 2023


Melissa Mbarki: Don’t blame Indigenous people for Calgary cancelling July 1st fireworks

Indigenous people are Canadians and many, like me, want to celebrate Canada Day. Actions like this only further divide us Author of the article:Melissa Mbarki,  National PostPublished May 25, 2023  •  Last updated 4 days ago  •  3 minute read246 Comments

Fireworks are seen on the Calgary skyline on July 1, 2021.
Fireworks are seen on the Calgary skyline on July 1, 2021. Melissa Mbarki says Calgary’s decision to cancel Canada Day fireworks this year in the name of reconciliation with Indigenous people only serves to divide Canadians. PHOTO BY GAVIN YOUNG / POSTMEDIA

National Post: Citing “cultural sensitivities … in relation to Truth and Reconciliation,” the City of Calgary is cancelling its annual Canada Day fireworks display, which can be seen across the city, and replacing it with a low-level pyrotechnic show at Fort Calgary.

I’d like to know how many Indigenous groups, people and communities were consulted about this. Many of us look forward to July 1st festivities, including the fireworks. It’s one of the few times when Canadians get together and celebrate the diversity of our country.

Indigenous people are Canadians. We have every right to celebrate Canada Day, even if others choose not to. Removing a holiday or a celebration that unites Canadians is not reconciliation. Actions like this further divide us.

By its very nature, reconciliation needs to include a wide range of voices, especially when a decision is made on behalf of Indigenous people. Hearing just one or a handful of voices, with a particular viewpoint, is not the foundation for long-lasting relationships between Indigenous communities and government.

Attempting to be culturally sensitive on our behalf is placing Indigenous people in a silo. This move makes us look as if we’re anti-Canadian and/or anti-fireworks, which makes no sense at all. Decisions like this pit us against other Canadians, and quite frankly, make us look naïve and uneducated.

We saw this in a tweet by Calgary city councillor Kourtney Penner, who was defending the decision. A tweet that could perhaps have been about the environment or traffic control turned out to be about her views on reconciliation. Penner went on to claim that reversing the fireworks decision would be “upholding colonialism and racism.”

The councillor referenced “calls from the Indigenous community to note that Canada Day historically is for and by white people.” I’ve celebrated Canada since I was child. When did Canada Day become a day of oppression or genocide? How does this benefit anyone? It’s guaranteed that blowback won’t be directed at Penner; it will be directed toward Indigenous people.

I find it ironic that Penner said this decision was intended to battle colonialism and racism. The city needs to take accountability and say that this was a decision based on the values of municipal councillors and staff and not necessarily the values of Indigenous people. I would like to direct the city and all those involved in the fireworks cancellation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action. We also have 231 calls for justice in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Canada Day is not mentioned in either report.

Are there tangible ways for a city to become involved in reconciliation efforts? Absolutely, and it starts with meaningful dialogue. That dialogue should include the fact that we are dealing with a high number of Indigenous people who are either homeless or battling housing affordability problems.

Involving Indigenous communities in land-use planning would be a start. Ensuring that we can build affordable housing or shelters would address some of the calls to action in the MMIWG report.

Education might be more inclusive if cities created more spaces for Indigenous institutions like the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.

Investing more in Indigenous outreach programs would help build trust and create a different relationship with Indigenous people.

We need to think outside the box when it comes to reconciliation. Cancelling holidays and special events is probably the easiest — and least helpful — action that could be taken. I equate this gesture to the lowering of the flag in 2021. Two years later and we’re probably not any closer to reconciliation.

Reconciliation is going to take work. Work that can be measured in tangible ways. Work that will make a difference in an Indigenous person’s life. Work that involves proper consultation before cancelling a yearly event cherished by many Canadians, like Canada Day fireworks.

National Post

Melissa Mbarki is a policy analyst and outreach co-ordinator at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, and a member of the Treaty 4 Nation in Saskatchewan.

October 24, 2021


Montreal Canadiens Land Acknowlegement

Toronto Star – The Montreal Canadians Land Acknowledgement preceding a hockey game “that’s launched hysterical editorials, hours of inane talk radio chatter and the interference of Quebec’s populist right wing government. What’s so offensive? That the Canadiens are insinuating Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) is unceded Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) territory.”

According to the nationalist school of Quebec history, when Champlain explored the area in 1603, no trace of the community Cartier described – in 1535 – was found. The island was claimed to be uninhabited—Terra Nullius—and thus free for the taking. Similarly, when de Maisonneuve founded Ville Marie in 1642, no trace of Hochelaga could be found, and so it was presumed the island was free for the French to colonize.

Apparently, it’s drawing the connection between extant Indigenous communities and unceded territory in the more public realm of a Montreal Canadiens hockey game that is a step too far. Quebec’s non-Indigenous Indigenous Affairs minister, Ian Lafrenière’s overly cautious (and inconsistent) approach to historical accuracy

is laughably lopsided given it is only the Kanien’kehá:ka claim to the land that apparently deserves greater scrutiny and not the ludicrous assertion an island dotted with Indigenous burial sites could be considered a ‘no man’s land’ ripe for the picking.

It isn’t conclusively proven that the people of Hochelaga are the direct ancestors of the Kanien’kehá:ka, but it is a safe bet the Kanien’kehá:ka are more closely related to the Hochelagans than certainly anyone of Euro-Canadian ancestry.


That a seemingly innocuous land acknowledgement could create such a firestorm speaks volumes about how dangerous nationalist sentiments can become. Hochelaga (Montreal) was not the only place where Indigenous people in Québec lived but the concept of terra nullius knows no boundaries not only in Quebec but in every other province and territory where federal and provincial governments refuse to acknowledge the existence of Indigenous laws and legal traditions and methods of governance. After all the concept of terra nullius gives them the justification to ignore treaties and “unceded” territory and enforce a Eurocentric view of ownership that overrides Indigenous views of land and responsibility.

No wonder the AFN-QL warn about the dangers of the Québec’s governments revision of the Ethics and Religious Culture course offered to secondary school students to advance “Québec citizenship” as the primary focus. As AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard points out,” That the rights of the “Quebec nation” in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate… There are other ways to build national pride.”

March 2, 2023


N.B. needs to improve Indigenous engagement: minister

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller speaks with reporters on Feb. 28, 2023. Image: CPAC video capture

NationTalk: Country 94.1 – New Brunswick needs to do a better job of engaging with Indigenous communities, according to one federal minister. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller made the comments during a news conference on Tuesday.

Miller said he has heard directly from Indigenous communities about the expiration of tax-sharing agreements“. I don’t think it should be lost on anyone that we’re seeing a government that needs to be a little better engaged with Indigenous peoples,” Miller told reporters. “These agreements are the nub of a lot of the discussions that we’ve had on revenue for communities that is making a difference in people’s lives that is in the tens of millions of dollars.”

New Brunswick announced in April 2021 that it would not be renewing tax-sharing agreements with First Nation communities.

The agreements allowed First Nation communities to keep 95 per cent of the first $8 million in provincial tax revenues they collected from on-reserve retail operations and 70 per cent on amounts above that. Premier Blaine Higgs called the agreements “unsustainable and unfair” and said they “do not adhere to our basic principles of taxation.” “In Canada, we believe that we all pay into programs that we all benefit from, like health, education and other social support services,” Higgs said at the time.

First Nations received $47 million from the agreements in 2019-20, a number the province estimated would grow to $75 million in 2031-32. The premier claimed nearly 40 per cent of that money was going to just two per cent of the First Nations’ population.

Wolastoqey chiefs said the revenue helped reduce the “substantial ongoing and systemic gap” in per capita funding the federal and provincial governments provide for education and social services on First Nations reserves compared to funding off-reserve for similar services.

In November, the province announced joint negotiations with all 15 First Nations on a new agreement to fund “social programs” such as housing, health care, social assistance and education.

Miller, meanwhile, made it clear what could happen if the New Brunswick government does not do a better job of engaging with Indigenous communities. “The courts are going to remind them very severely of that role or communities are going to take a more forceful approach to their understanding of what self-determination means,” he said.

“The role of the federal government is multi-fold in that one. It isn’t limited to speaking publicly about it, but actually working in the background with the New Brunswick government, working with Indigenous communities to ensure rights are respected.”

Brad Perry, Regional News Director for for Acadia Broadcasting’s New Brunswick radio stations

March 31, 2023

Fed. Govt.

NACCA Response to 2023 Federal Budget – Disappointment

NationTalk: OTTAWA, ON – The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) expresses disappointment in the Liberal Government 2023 Federal Budget, as it fails in addressing and supporting the growing needs of Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs across Canada. This budget will stifle the significant, positive advancements that have been made toward economic reconciliation in recent years and it is a surprising departure for a government that seemed willing to take the necessary steps to ensure economic self-reliance and prosperity in Indigenous communities.

NACCA believes that access to capital and support are essential for Indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive and contribute to the Canadian economy. However, the budget lacks the necessary investments to ensure that Indigenous-managed Financial Institutions (IFIs) have the resources needed to support Indigenous entrepreneurs effectively. This is particularly concerning, as demand for NACCA program support through the IFIs has increased substantially.

The Federal government has fallen short to meet their commitments and responsibilities to Indigenous communities.  Not providing adequate resources for Important programs that build self-sufficiency and self-reliance through business ownership runs counter to economic reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) principles.  This budget is a surprising diversion from the path to Indigenous prosperity and will certainly slow growth and momentum.

Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of NACCA stated, “The lack of sufficient investment in Indigenous businesses in the 2023 federal budget is concerning. It fails to prioritize support for economic prosperity for Indigenous communities and we urge the government to take more proactive steps towards ensuring Indigenous self-determination and economic empowerment.”  Chair of the NACCA Board of Directors, Jean Vincent added, “We are disappointed that the government has missed an opportunity to support the growth and development of Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs. A more inclusive and collaborative approach that prioritizes sustainability and self-determination for Indigenous communities is required.  This must include long-term meaningful investments for Indigenous entrepreneurs and the supports they require to prosper.”

Despite our disappointment in the federal budget, NACCA remains steadfast in our commitment to championing the growth of Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs, strengthening them to greater economic equality and self-determination.  The NACCA network’s 35 years of programming and advocacy have generated tremendous impact and tangible results with over $3 billion in loans distributed and more than 3,600 jobs created annually.

As we move forward, it is imperative that Indigenous inclusiveness and empowerment are prioritized as integral parts of Canada’s economy. Reconciliation requires action and taking the necessary steps towards healing the past to create a brighter future.  Supporting Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs creates a pathway to prosperity and equitable futures that benefit everyone. We call on Canada to build a truly inclusive and sustainable economy that is grounded in respect for Indigenous Peoples, their traditions, and their contributions.
– 30-

For more information please, contact

NACCA, the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, is a network of over 50 Indigenous Financial Institutions (IFIs) dedicated to stimulating economic growth for all Indigenous people in Canada.  These efforts increase social and economic self-reliance and sustainability for Indigenous people and communities nationwide.

September 29, 2022

National chief says Canada’s reconciliation actions taking long road; 40 years away

Toronto Star: VICTORIA – The road to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada remains a long one, says Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who estimates it will take 40 years at the current pace to achieve the more than 90 calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. 

It has been a process of two steps forward and one step back over the past year, Archibald said in an interview ahead of Friday’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The day was declared last year after hundreds of potential unmarked burial sites of Indigenous children were found by First Nations near former residential schools, including by the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc nation in Kamloops and Saskatchewan’s Cowessess First Nation. 

The national chief was in Regina Thursday along with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon for a reconciliation ceremony at Mosaic Stadium and co-hosted by Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess. 
“At that rate we’re going with the number of calls to action that have been actually implemented, it’s going to take 40 years to complete all the calls to action,” she said in an interview.
“That’s how slow the process has been,” said Archibald. “That’s kind of disheartening that we’re not moving faster. The Canadian government and all the partners that are mentioned in these calls to action are not moving as quickly as they could be.”

Making progress on the 94 calls to action is a subject of the federal government’s “relentless commitment” on reconciliation, Marc Miller, federal Crown-Indigenous relations minister, said Thursday in an interview. “It’s ongoing,” he said. “It’s incomplete. I’m not satisfied. I don’t think anyone is.”

Miller said many of the calls to action involve long-term investments, which the government is determined to achieve. “This isn’t an operation of ticking off boxes,” he said. “It has to have the relentless commitment of our government, particularly in light of the horrific discoveries in and around Kamloops, and really the impact that had on all Canadians, shocking their conscience and a re-examination of what it means to be Canadian.”

Miller said he’s heard others beyond Archibald say the process to achieve the calls to action could take many years, but many of the issues can’t be resolved in short periods of time. “We’ve heard from some people doing searches, for example, that it could take up to 10 years to get a full picture of what it is in and around those unmarked graves,” he said.

The 4,000-page report released in 2015 by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment at residential schools, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths at the institutions. 

Archibald said there have been positive reconciliation steps this past year, but “we’ve had a couple of real steps backwards in relation to reconciliation.” She cited court cases over Indigenous rights to self-determination, self-government and jurisdiction over their children as examples of backtracking,but the recent establishment of an independent National Council on Truth and Reconciliation and the raising of the Survivors’ Flag on Parliament Hill were steps forward. 

Archibald said the Pope’s visit to Canada last summer and his apology to residential school survivors “was very much appreciated by some survivors.”

But the progress toward addressing many of the calls to action remains slow, she said.

“The real, deeper issues under the TRC’s report have yet to be fulfilled. So, it’s as though governments are trying to find the, I guess, easiest to implement,” said Archibald. “I suppose it makes sense, but you know when it comes to systemic changes we need in Canada, we need those deeper issues looked at. We need some of the issues around justice and policing, all of those things to be actioned as well.”

Organizations monitoring reconciliation in Canada, including the completion of the 94 calls to action, report the resolution of up to 12 of the commission’s calls.

Indigenous Watchdog, a federally registered non-profit dedicated to monitoring and reporting on how reconciliation is advancing on the critical issues affecting the Indigenous world, reported 12 completed actions in August. The group also reported 35 per cent of the 94 calls to action have not been started or are currently stalled.

In June 2021, the First Nations-led Yellowhead Institute reported nine completed calls to action, including the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry and federal acknowledgment of Indigenous language rights.

Archibald said the National Truth and Reconciliation Day is a time for Canadians to pause and consider the history and reality of residential schools.

“It’s really an opportunity for reflection,” she said. “It’s a call to action for non-Indigenous peoples to do some basic things like get a copy of the summary of the TRC calls to action. It’s really worth it for non-Indigenous people to read that particular handout pamphlet.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

September 14, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card


Liberal Green Conservative Bloc Québecois






Rights of Indigenous Women & MMIWG2S


5 5 2


Self Determination & Decision-Making


5 5 4


Reconciliation & residential Schools


3 4 3


Environment & Climate Change


4 4 1


Clean Drinking Water & Public Services


5 3 3




5 4 2


Child Welfare


4 4 1


Justice and Policing


2 4 2


Employment and Econ. Dev.


3 1 4




4 3 1


Health Care


5 4 3




45 41 26


September 14, 2021

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Native Women’s Association of Canada Political Party Report Card

Native Women’s Association of Canada – NWAC commissioned Nanos Research to compare the parties’ platforms with the 11 policy issues NWAC determined to be of primary importance. Those policy issues include:

  • human rights
  • self-determination
  • reconciliation
  • environment
  • clean water
  • housing
  • child welfare
  • justice and policing
  • employment and
  • economic development, and
  • health care.

The result is a 79-page document called SCORECARD: Where do the federal parties stand on Indigenous women’s issues:

  • First: NDP – A (52 points)
  • Second: Liberal – B (45 points)
  • Third: Green – B (41 points)
  • Fourth: Conservatives – D (26 points)
  • Fifth: Bloc Québecois – D (19 points)

April 21, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Northern Ontario chief says his community continues to ‘fear’ flooding because of neighbouring First Nation

Fort Albany chief not commenting, federal government only says it’s still committed to relocation

A truck veers around kids playing road hockey on a snow-covered street with houses basked in the sun at dusk.
Kashechewan has been waiting years to be moved to a safer location and now the chief says plans are stalled because the federal government now wants Fort Albany to sign off on the move. (Erik White/CBC )

CBC News: The chief of Kashechewan says his Cree community on Ontario’s James Bay Coast remains at risk of flooding every spring because of the neighbouring First Nation. Kashechewan has been talking to the federal government about moving off the flood plain of the Albany River for nearly two decades, most recently cemented in a 2019 agreement to relocate the community of 2,000 to higher ground by 2029.

But Chief Gaius Wesley says the negotiations changed a few years ago when the government said Fort Albany, a First Nation on the other side of the river, is required to sign off on the move.  “I honestly don’t know how they came up with that. I feel like our lives are just being played with,” he said.

Wesley says he and previous Kashechewan leaders have tried to “bring them on board” and suggests that Fort Albany, which is also threatened by flooding, also be moved to a new location.  But he says Fort Albany leaders have been unwilling to work with him, which this week prompted him to speak publicly about the impasse, posting on Facebook in hopes that people in Fort Albany “push their local leadership to work with us and rebuild the relationship around this file.”

A man stands at a podium.
Kashechewan Chief Gaius Wesley says he spoke out recently about the impasse with Fort Albany, in hopes that the citizens in the neighbouring community will pressure their leaders to work with Kashechewan on relocating both First Nations. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

“Our people continue to live in fear. Our children continue to live in fear every spring,” Wesley said.  “I feel like people are missing the big picture. It is for the safety of the people.” Both communities are in the midst of precautionary evacuations this week, with elders predicting this could be a bad season for spring flooding.

A frozen dirt road goes up a hill past some snowbanks towards some buildings on the horizon.
Fort Albany has been flooded in the past, but it’s not at as much risk as the neighbouring community of Kashechewan which is further up stream and at a lower elevation. (Erik White/CBC)

People in Kashechewan are flown out every spring, to the point it’s known as “evacuation season,” but this year Fort Albany is also flying some of its 700 citizens to hotels in Mississauga beginning on Friday. Fort Albany Chief Elizabeth Kataquapit took questions about the evacuation in an online town hall this week, but did not address the question of relocation and has not made herself available to speak with CBC for several months.

In February, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told CBC that plans to move Kashechewan were stalled because the First Nation had not chosen where it wants to move to.

“When Kashechewan determines for themselves where they want to be relocated, the government is fully committed to support those costs,” she told CBC Sudbury.  “That is a difficult conversation for the community. I know there are a number of political dynamics at play. I know this work they are doing. And we stand by ready to assist when they have determined what they would like to proceed on.”

A faded blue and white wooden sign reads 'Fort Albany First Nation' with a picture of a polar bear and a fish
Fort Albany is in the midst of a precautionary evacuation with a bad spring flooding season predicted, with flights bound for Mississauga leaving on Friday. (Erik White/CBC )

Chief Wesley says that is not true. While years ago there was some debate about where Kashechewan would move to, it settled years ago on a spot 30 km north of the current community along the Albany River known as Site 5. 

Asked for clarification this week, Indigenous Services Canada provided the following statement: “We remain committed to the relocation efforts of Kashechewan as they face regular flooding events and annual evacuations that disrupts their lives,” the statement attributed to Minister Hajdu reads.  “Indigenous Services Canada officials are continuing to work directly with Chief and Council of both Kashechewan and Fort Albany to move these plans forward and ensure there is full agreement on the path forward.”

Large chunks of ice creep up the side of an earthen dike with a rooftop in the distance
Kashechewan is threatened by the waters of the Albany River every spring, although the community doesn’t always flood. But the First Nation has evacuated every year for the past decade as a precaution. (Submitted by Leo Friday )

The statement does not address the question of why the government would be requiring Fort Albany to give its consent before Kashechewan can be relocated. One likely reason is that Kashechewan and Fort Albany were once one community, located on an island in the middle of the Albany River, before splitting along religious lines in the 1950s and building two separate First Nations on opposite shores.

However, in the eyes of the federal government, they continue to share a reserve, known legally as Fort Albany 67.  

Three men at a table, two wearing suits and one wearing a headdress, hold up red folders with documents inside.
Kashechewan signed what is known as the ‘Work for Hope Agreement’ with the federal and provincial governments in 2019, based around a pledge to relocate the community within 10 years. (Philippe de Montigny/Radio-Canada)

This was addressed by Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Marc Miller during a tour of northern Ontario in January, while making it clear that Indigenous Services is the main ministry handling the Kashechewan relocation file. “The sort of legal relationship that has been imposed on these communities is one that Canada has levelled on Kashechewan and Fort Albany,” Miller told CBC.  “It’s work that we need to get both communities together and make sure that we’re not compromising a community like Kashechewan just because there’s a legal technicality.”

Chief Wesley says if this drags on much longer, he will look at “killing the relocation” and start planning to rebuild the community in its current location. “We don’t want to waste any more time trying to get Fort Albany leadership to work with us,” he said, thinking that July would be a good deadline before shifting focus from relocation to rebuilding. This has come up before in the long-running debate about moving Kashechewan. 

Aerial picture of trees and muskeg swamps
This stand of trees along the Albany River 30 km north of Kashechewan is known as Site 5 and is where the First Nation wants to build a new community. (Kashechewan First Nation)

In 2006, the federal Liberal government committed $500 million to moving the community to higher ground. But soon after, the Conservatives came to power and found that plan too expensive. The following year, they instead promised to spend $200 million rebuilding Kashechewan in its current location. Although, the First Nation says most of that money ended up being spent on evacuations during flood season.

Wesley says rebuilding would include major improvements to the dike system that encircles the community and would probably cost just as much as moving to a new location, now likely in the range of $1 billion. 

A dike made of gravel and bricks curves around with water on one side and the tops of hydro poles on the other
Chief Gaius Wesley says if relocation talks continue to be stalled by this summer, Kashechewan will instead start planning to rebuild in its current location, including major renovations to the dike that encircles the community. (Erik White/CBC)

“There’s quite a number of people in the community who are starting to build anger,” Wesley said.  “We shouldn’t be waiting any longer. If the government recognizes that the people are at risk, then there shouldn’t be any jurisdictional issue.”


Erik White , Journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to

May 10, 2023

Fed. Govt., ON

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare Supports Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin in Release of New Research Report: An Exploratory Study of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s “Historic Métis Communities” in Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare Supports Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin in Release of New Research Report: An Exploratory Study of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s “Historic Métis Communities” in Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory

NationTalk: Toronto, ON) Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare issued the following statement in support of Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin’s release of a new research report: An Exploratory Study of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s “Historic Métis Communities” in Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory:

“I support Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin (“RHW”) and its 21 member First Nations in their release of An Exploratory Study of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s “Historic Métis Communities” in Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “This study serves to support their efforts to occupy and exercise authority and jurisdiction over its communities, economies, and ways of life within their territory since time immemorial.”

The report prepared by Dr. Darryl Leroux and Dr. Celeste Pedri-Spade examines four of the so-called “historic Métis communities” within the Robinson-Huron Treaty territory: Georgian Bay, Killarney, Mattawa, and Sault Ste. Marie. “The report reveals that the Métis Nation of Ontario’s (MNO) research practices and ’evidence’ claimed to support its recognition are deeply flawed. The research findings show that the ’evidence’ used by the MNO does not meet the criteria set out in R v. Powley by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to recognize the existence of historic Métis “communities.”

Under R v. Powley, a Métis community wishing to acquire section 35 rights must prove its ties to a geographically localized, stable, identifiable, and continuous community of Métis, with a distinctive collective identity, and a shared way of life prior to when Europeans established effective political and legal control of the area.

“Using the MNO’s own documentation, the report concludes the MNO has not met this test and its standards. Rather, MNO’s recognition of these aforementioned communities relies on changing the identities of First Nations individuals into Métis, simply because they are mixed-race, and not because they identified with an existing Métis community. Mixed-race does not mean that someone is Métis.

First Nations in the Ontario region support the legitimate claims of Métis Peoples, however, note that recognition of unfounded claims undermines legitimate inherent rights-holders and dilute section 35 rights.

The Chiefs of Ontario reject the existence of the so-called “historic Métis communities” in the Ontario region and are of the position that the MNO is claiming a false history in our First Nations territories.” “The Anishinabek have not given the Métis any rights,” said Ogimaa Kwe Linda Debassige of M’Chigeeng First Nation. “We do not recognize any MNO communities or any rights that the Crown may give them.”

“This report is the second of its kind that has been released over the past year in response to growing concerns about claims to Indigenous ancestry and Aboriginal rights made by the Métis Nation of Ontario,” said Regional Chief Hare. “I encourage everyone to also review the report prepared for the Wabun Tribal Council titled The “Historic Abitibi-Inland Métis Community” – Final Report.

The findings in these reports are shocking and ought to sound the alarm. First Nations in Ontario are deeply concerned that Canada entered into an agreement with the MNO to recognize these so-called Métis ’communities; without proper diligence. It is not within Canada’s power to create Aboriginal rights from scratch.

I call on the provincial and federal governments to read these reports before proceeding with the implementation of the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Implementation Agreement with the MNO and to provide a meaningful response to First Nations on how they intend to proceed given these research findings. Further, I call on the MNO to provide a legitimate response to the findings in these reports. The MNO can no longer simply claim these findings are fabricated ‘misinformation’ and sweep them under the rug.”

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare (Gwiingos)


The Chiefs of Ontario supports all First Nations in Ontario as they assert their sovereignty, jurisdiction and their chosen expression of nationhood. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @ChiefsOfOntario.

Further Reading

Chiefs of Ontario Position

The Chiefs of Ontario have long opposed rights assertions made by the Métis Nation of Ontario in our Ancestral and Treaty territories.

In 2011, the Chiefs-in-Assembly stated that First Nations are fundamentally opposed to the pan-Aboriginal approach of governments because they are inconsistent with the constitutional recognition and priority of First Nations Inherent, Aboriginal, and Treaty Rights. As the Original Peoples, we assert the primacy of First Nations Rights and reject any claim that we are all the same under section 35.

In 2018, the Chiefs-in-Assembly stated that certain Métis rights are wrongfully or unlawfully confirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which were reaffirmed in the Powley decision of the SCC in 2003. The findings in this research report for RHW prove that, nearly five years later, they were correct.

The Chiefs-in-Assembly are deeply concerned with how the Métis Nation of Ontario is thwarting efforts by First Nations in different parts of the Ontario region to negotiate land claims, impact benefit agreements, treaty-land entitlements, and other land-based initiatives or processes.

First Nations in the Ontario region support the legitimate claims of Indigenous Peoples, but note that recognition of unfounded claims undermine legitimate inherent rights-holders. We assert that we are protecting our Inherent Rights given to us by the Creator and reject any claims of lateral violence—this is about preserving the legitimacy of Indigenous rights.

Media Contact:

Christopher Hoyos
Director of Policy and Communications
Policy and Communications Sector
Chiefs of Ontario
Telephone: (416) 579-4998

May 29, 2023


Open Letter from Quebec Native Women’s President

NationTalk: Last December, on behalf of the First Nations women and girls across Quebec that Quebec Native Women (QNW) represents, I spoke at the National Assembly, when a petition was tabled with 4,000 signatures calling on François Legault’s government to recognize the existence of systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec and to adopt Joyce’s Principle.

On May 16, I learned that the CAQ MNA, Mr. Pierre Dufour, for the riding of Abitibi-Est, made contemptuous remarks about Aboriginal women during a municipal council meeting of the City of Val-d’Or concerning the homelessness issues that are rampant in the heart of this city. He said that the Enquête report on the abuse of Indigenous women by the Sûreté du Québec police officers was “full of lies” and that police officers were still suffering from the effects of the report and the Viens Commission because the municipality “did not defend police officers”.

These facts illustrate, once again, the need to recognize systemic racism and discrimination, as have all previous reports and inquiries on Indigenous women and girls in Quebec, such as the Viens Commission, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec, the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the report on imposed sterilizations.

The hurtful and offensive comments made by MNA Pierre Dufour are completely unacceptable and unacceptable to all Indigenous women and girls in Quebec. This “emotional” reaction, as he describes it, is rather an exacerbated expression of the systemic racism and discrimination that is alive and well at all levels of society.

Mr. Dufour should know that Indigenous women are often placed in difficult, even violent, socio-economic situations despite their willingness not to be caught in such situations. While some of them had the immense courage, in 2015, to denounce the abuses they suffered, his comments call into question their testimony and their integrity.

This “emotional outburst” has greatly undermined the hard work of QNW and so many other Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations in building a solid relationship of trust with Indigenous women that allows them to find the courage to denounce such situations of violence.

Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before such a situation occurred. These events occur when authority figures turn a blind eye to the problem and legitimize racist and discriminatory actions and words that consequently spread everywhere.

From this point on, the trust between Quebec Indigenous women and MNA Pierre Dufour has been broken. It will take a long time to rebuild trust with Indigenous women and it will require much more than a simple apology on his part.

Mr. Dufour’s words must provoke a real examination of conscience on both an individual and government level when one of his representatives goes against the government’s efforts for reconciliation. These words are causing collateral damage, not only to the Indigenous women of Val-d’Or, but also to other women from different nations in Quebec.

Our organization must above all ensure the protection of Indigenous women. I therefore reiterate the question I addressed to Minister Ian Lafrenière and Premier François Legault when we submitted our petition last December:

“What are you waiting for to listen to us and really be our allies?”

Our call for the recognition of systemic racism and discrimination and the adoption of Joyce’s Principle still stands. Let’s work together, once and for all, on the real source of the problem.

Marjolaine Étienne

President of Quebec Native Women

May 4, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Opposition from First Nations mounts over Métis Nation of Ontario self-government deal

Denying the existence of Métis communities in Ontario is ‘deeply offensive,’ says MNO

Francis Kavanaugh pictured in a headdress.
Grand Council Treaty #3 Grand Chief Francis Kavanaugh is among First Nations leaders speaking out against Canada’s self-government agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario. (Christine MacLeod)

First Nations opposition to a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) self-government agreement is mounting as chiefs throughout the province urge the Canadian government to freeze implementation of the deal until their concerns are addressed.

The leaders are speaking out after the Wabun Tribal Council in northeastern Ontario filed a court challenge in a bid to cancel the deal.

Wabun Tribal Council Executive Director Jason Batise has said his member communities reject any Métis communities in their territory, including the Abitibi Inland Historic Métis Community, one of six historic Métis communities whose identification the Ontario government announced in 2017.

Grand Council Treaty #3 in northwestern Ontario called itself “extremely concerned” by the situation and accused Ottawa of stonewalling and secrecy in a statement issued Thursday.

“I’m troubled by what’s going on,” said Ogichidaa (Grand Chief) Francis Kavanaugh in an interview. 

“There’s never been any consultation with our nation.”

The Treaty 3 council represents First Nations situated roughly between Thunder Bay, Ont., and the Manitoba border.

‘We’re offended they’re using our ancestors’

The Temagami First Nation near the Quebec border is echoing those concerns, accusing the MNO of erroneously recasting Anishinaabe ancestors of mixed race as members of a distinct Métis Nation.

“I feel very disturbed and almost insulted by it,” said John (Mitiginaabe) Turner, second chief of the First Nation.

“Historically, there’s no Métis communities in N’Dakimenan [our homeland]. Ever.” 

Turner said the Temagami First Nation hasn’t ruled out also taking legal action. 

“Court action is still on the table for us,” he said.

“The notion of MNO citizenship is far too loose. We’re offended they’re using our ancestors.”

The Métis are a distinct Indigenous people with a shared culture, traditions and language who emerged in the northwest of what is now Canada in the late 1700s. The existence of Métis communities outside the northwest is contentious.

Canada’s Supreme Court has recognized a Métis community near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., via the 2003 Powley case, a landmark ruling that also laid out a multi-part test for recognizing Métis rights.

In its court application, the Wabun Tribal Council questioned whether all six communities identified in 2017 would pass the test.

‘Misinformation’ disappointing, says MNO

MNO President Margaret Froh has said the deal doesn’t concern land or harvesting rights, only internal self-government over MNO affairs, and doesn’t impact anyone else.

“The misinformation and objection coming from some First Nations is very disappointing, but Métis communities, Métis rights and the Métis Nation of Ontario as a Métis government for our own people, are not going anywhere,” she said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“Our door is always open for respectful dialogue, and we look forward to continuing our journey to reconciliation. However, to deny the very existence of our citizens and communities in Ontario is deeply offensive.”

Margaret Froh speaks at a rally.
Métis Nation of Ontario president Margaret Froh said the communities in question have been identifying as Métis for generations. (Métis Nation of Ontario)

The self-government agreement in question was signed in February and commits Canada and MNO to signing a treaty that will supersede the agreement in two years. The First Nations fear that the treaty will impact their rights.

Chief Brian Perrault of Couchiching First Nation, near Fort Frances in western Ontario, joined Kavanaugh in saying they’ve never heard elders speak of a Métis community existing in the Rainy River/Fort Frances area.

The Rainy River/Lake of the Woods Historic Métis Community is in Treaty 3 territory and another of the six communities identified in 2017.

Perrault said the issue is one of great concern to all First Nations right across the province.

“I’m not the only chief that is concerned,” he said.

“There are 133 First Nations in Ontario, and all of us are concerned about what the government is doing.”

Crown-Indigenous Relations previously declined to answer written questions, citing the Wabun Tribal Council’s active case. CBC News contacted the minister’s office for comment Thursday, but the request was forwarded to the Crown-Indigenous Relations communications division, which did not provide a statement by time of publishing.


Brett Forester

Brett Forester is a reporter with CBC Indigenous in Ottawa. He is a member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario who previously worked as a journalist with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.


November 14, 2019


Opposition to Bill 132 “Better for people, Smarter for business Act, 2019”

First Nation leaders from across Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) have strongly opposed Bill 132 “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019”, as it seriously undermines the mining industry obligation to consult with First Nation communities. They have also rejected the disrespectful approach of this government of burying issues fundamental to First Nations in omnibus legislation and creating unreasonable timelines to undermine the right of our communities to adequately respond.”

NAN Chiefs have declared that the area designated by Ontario as the ‘Far North’ is subject to the James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portion of Treaty No. 5, and that development in these lands will not be unilaterally imposed. With respect to Bill 132, NAN looks to Ontario extend the time for consultation and accommodation in respect of the Bill and create a respectful process for engagement. NAN will also request that Ontario end the disrespectful legislative practice of burying issues important to First Nations in omnibus legislation completely unrelated to First Nation matters.

March 27, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Ottawa’s slow rollout of internet to First Nations creating economic rift, Auditor-General says

The Globe and Mail: The federal government’s slow rollout of high-speed internet to rural areas is putting First Nations at an economic disadvantage while billions of dollars earmarked to fix the issue remains untouched, says Canada’s auditor general.

The lack of internet access continues to exclude First Nation reserves from accessing education, work and medical or government services online, Karen Hogan says in a report released Monday – despite there being billions of dollars in last year’s budget to address their needs.

“Internet and mobile services is not equal for all Canadians,” reads the audit report, which analyzed data from 2018 to 2021.

On First Nations, about 43 per cent of households have high-speed internet, while 91 per cent of households across Canada do. In rural and remote areas, about 60 per cent have access to high-speed internet.

The audit found that the federal government is failing to account for affordability, because it is only “focused on price, without considering income.” “Price alone does not indicate whether a Canadian household can afford Internet or mobile cellular service” says Hogan’s report. “Connectivity, if unaffordable or of poor quality, is no more of an improvement to the lives of Canadians living on First Nations reserves or in rural and remote areas than having no connectivity at all.”

But the government isn’t just behind on its target to improve internet access for First Nations and rural residents. It’s also behind on rolling out available money to fix the issue, the audit found. “They’re not spending what they planned for each year,” Hogan said at a press conference Monday. “It is really, in my view, because of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and (the) Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s slowness in approving projects.”

Since 2015, $2.4 billion was made available for use before March 31, 2023 to help improve internet and cell service for Canadians, but the government has only spent 40 per cent of that money, or less than $1 billion.

Another $2 billion was earmarked to support large-scale connectivity infrastructure projects by providing loans or equity financing.

“Being connected is no longer a luxury but a basic essential service for Canadians. This fact became more apparent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which transformed how many Canadians live, work, and learn,” Hogan’s report says. “Without access to fast, reliable, and affordable high-speed internet and mobile cellular services, people residing in remote communities do not have the same opportunities as people residing in more urban areas.”

The federal government had committed to connecting 90 per cent of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2021, 98 per cent of Canadians by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030.

Their stated goal is to equip households with a minimum speed of 50 megabits per second for downloads and 10 megabits per second for uploads.

Editor’s note: A previous version said the report’s findings covered the period between 2018 and January.

March 16, 2023


Petition Presented to The National Assembly: The Quebec Government Invited to Recognize the Existence of Systemic Racism and Discrimination in Quebec

NationTalk: KAHNAWAKE, QC – Quebec Native Women (QNW) today tabled a petition in the Blue Room of the Quebec National Assembly calling on Premier Legault’s government to recognize systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec and to adopt Joyce’s Principle.

The petition, submitted by Québec solidaire member and co-spokesperson Manon Massé, calls on the Quebec government, through the recognition of systemic racism and discrimination and the adoption of Joyce’s Principle, to guarantee all Indigenous People, through concrete action, the right to equitable access, without discrimination, to all health and social services, as well as the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

It was reiterated that systemic racism and discrimination are at the root of the issues that Indigenous women and girls face on a daily basis. The tragic death of Joyce Echaquan is an extreme example of this, as well as the cases of the Val D’or women, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, forced sterilizations, etc.

Indigenous women are omnipresent in all spheres of society and are at the heart of the preservation and transmission of our peoples’ ancestral knowledge. It is imperative that major changes take place to ensure their safety, integrity, and well-being everywhere in Quebec.

”It is important to recognize a fact, an issue, a reality in order to improve conditions in society. The filing of this petition, initiated by Quebec Native Women, indicates to the government to take a step forward if it really wants to work in reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples”, said Sipi Flamand, Chief of the Manawan Atikamekw Council.

The petition was launched on November 30th and its official announcement was the subject of a rally in front of the National Assembly, organized by QNW, in partnership with the Manawan Atikamekw Council and Joyce’s Principle Office. The petition collected nearly 4,000 signatures.

A press conference was held in the lobby of the National Assembly during which Marjolaine Étienne, President of Quebec Native Women, Sipi Flamand, Chief of the Manawan Atikamekw Council and Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) spoke.

“The tabling of our petition in the National Assembly was a highly anticipated moment, as we have had proof that it has truly mobilized the Quebec population. Our allies are numerous and the number of signatures collected has exceeded our expectations. The support of the people of Quebec is being felt, it is now up to Premier Legault to listen to us and become an ally of Indigenous women and girls,” declared Marjolaine Étienne, President of Quebec Native Women.


The issue of systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec was also discussed by QNW, in partnership with the Manawan Atikamekw Council and the Joyce’s Principle Office, at the meeting held with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on March 2nd. The latter committed to carefully examining the issues raised by QNW and its collaborators and reiterated his support for Indigenous women and girls.

“Systemic racism, and systemic discrimination have been present in the lives of Indigenous peoples, and particularly Indigenous women for far too long. The current government has a unique opportunity to walk the talk. If it wants to be consistent with its new campaign to raise awareness on Indigenous issues, the Quebec government can be part of the solution. I urge the provincial government to take action now, in collaboration with First Nations people across our region, with the demonstrated support of Quebec civil society through this petition. How many action plans will it take to begin making changes on this life-threatening issue of systemic racism against Indigenous people? How many more lives will be taken by the system before we begin to see these changes as required?” questionned Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

About QNW

Founded in 1974, Quebec Native Women is a non-profit organization that represents First Nations women in Quebec as well as urban Indigenous women.

For further information: and interviews requests: Éric Duguay, Media relations associate, (514) 377 1980,; Marie-Celine Einish, Communications advisor, AFNQL, (418) 254 4620 /

November 15, 2022


Premier Heather Stefanson Unveils Path to Fight Violent Crime, Strengthen Health Care, Grow Economy and Help Manitobans in Speech from the Throne

Indigenous Watchdog Comment:

The conclusion of the Speech from the Throne repeats all of the following priorities except “Advancing Reconciliation” which unfortunately does not inspire confidence that the Government of Manitoba is seriously committed to “significant efforts towards reconciliation” (as quoted from the Manitoba Speech from the Throne):

  • Helping Make Our Communities Safer
  • Helping Families Make Ends Meet
  • Strengthening Health Care and Reducing Surgical and Diagnostic Backlogs Helping Make Manitoba More Competitive
  • Helping Protect Our Environment, Climate and Parks
  • Helping Build Stronger Communities
  • Advancing Reconciliation

Each of the above sections warrants its own dedicated section in the Speech from the Throne except “Advancing Reconciliation” which is reduced to the following comments integrated within each of the other priorities:

Making Our Communities Safer:

  • Homelessness: Our recent investment of $1.7 million in N’Dinawemak’s 24/7 shelter ensures that those in need have a safe, warm place to spend the night.
  • Violence against women and girls, and incidence of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, continues to be a priority for our government. The first progress report and update to the gender-based violence framework will be released in the coming months.

Strengthening Health Care...

  • Suicide crises are most acute within Indigenous communities.
    • Building on our existing five-year roadmap for mental health, we will complete and implement a provincially-coordinated strategy for suicide prevention focusing on youth and at-risk communities.
    • Our government is committed to collaborating with Indigenous communities and the federal government to bolster regional health care and mental health and addictions services.

Making Manitoba More competitive

  • Economic reconciliation, key to building a stronger province for everyone, will continue with Indigenous Peoples by removing barriers to full participation in Manitoba’s economy, ensuring access to education and training, and revenue sharing.

NationTalk: The 2022 speech from the throne, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville at the opening of the fifth session of the 42nd legislature, is setting a course toward greater health, and prosperity for Manitobans with a series of commitments to make communities stronger, safer and more affordable, Premier Heather Stefanson said today.

“Our government is focused on making our neighbourhoods safe places to raise families, building a strong and sustainable health-care system and helping make life more affordable for all Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “We are listening to Manitobans, taking action on their priorities and getting things done for the benefit of all Manitobans. We are committed to finding even more measures that will help Manitobans cope with global inflation from rising prices and carbon taxes.”

The speech outlined a series of initiatives that will be implemented to strengthen the province’s health-care infrastructure and take aim at violent criminal behaviour while supporting efforts to tackle mental health, homelessness and addiction issues including:

  • increasing supports for front-line law enforcement officers through investments in technology, specialized training, enhanced police presence and support for more officers;
  • making an unprecedented investment in Winnipeg hospitals to ensure Manitobans get the best care possible in the most modern facilities with a multi-year, multi-billion dollar capital investment;
  • providing financial support for up to 1,000 addictions treatment spaces;
  • reopening the Communities Economic Development Fund’s business loan program to support key sectors of a growing northern economy;
  • financially stabilizing Manitoba Hydro as a Crown corporation so it can continue to provide clean hydroelectric power for Manitoba residents and businesses at among the lowest rates in the country into the future;
  • protecting students by establishing a teacher registry and an independent body to improve accountability and transparency related to educator misconduct in kindergarten to Grade 12 schools;
  • modernizing the waste diversion and recycling framework to divert more materials from landfills and create new business and job opportunities within a circular economy;
  • helping ranchers recover from climate-change driven droughts and floods by implementing a temporary rent reduction on agricultural Crown lands from 2023 to 2025;
  • continuing efforts to reduce red tape through regulation reform and modernization; and
  • revitalizing the Conservation Officer Service by hiring more officers and providing better equipment and technology to combat dangerous activities such as poaching, night hunting and road hunting.

“This throne speech is a roadmap to a more prosperous future, building a province where its government helps make communities safer, healthier and stronger and its citizens and communities more competitive,” said Stefanson. “It is a course that is guided by listening to Manitobans and advancing reconciliation, protecting our environment and helping families make ends meet.”

To read the speech from the throne, visit

– 30 –

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement:
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.

December 4, 2018

Fed. Govt.

Rejection of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework

AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, Resolution # 25 / 2018 “Rejection of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and Associated Processes.

The Framework and associated processes undermine the true Nation-to-Nation relationship between First Nations and Canada:

Reasons for rejection:

  1. Openly reject Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as a guiding principle of the relationship between Canada and First Nations. This is made evident by Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (Ten Principles) document which states that Canada will only attempt to honour FPIC. This amounts to little more than consultation.
  2. Call for the infringement of inherent and unextinguished rights and jurisdictions of First Nations. The Ten Principles document clearly states that infringement of Aboriginal rights will continue unabated in situations where Canadian courts find it “justified” or where it is found to be in the best interest of the nation.
  3. Assert that the Canadian constitutional framework is the only vehicle for the exercise of inherent rights by First Nations.


  1. Confirm that only First Nations can determine the path to decolonization.
    Reject Canada’s Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (Ten Principles) as the basis of the relationship going forward. Joint principles of understanding must be developed in partnership with First Nations and be enshrined in a new Royal Proclamation.
  2. Reject the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework (the Framework) and will take all necessary steps to prevent the passing of any legislation related to the Framework created by the federal government. There have been no meaningful changes to the Framework process since it was announced in February 2018, despite widespread criticism and outright rejection from First Nations across the country. Unilaterally developed policy and legislation that sets the parameters of Canada’s relationship with First Nations is in direct contravention of the nation-to-nation relationship and Canada’s obligations under international law.
  3. Call on the Assembly of First Nations to support First Nations in developing their own nation-building processes, including law-making, institution-building, and research of traditional governance systems. It is imperative that First Nations begin developing standards of governance and law-making and begin to assert their inherent rights and unextinguished jurisdictions outside the purview of Canadian legislative control.

December 5, 2022


Report finds Indigenous N.W.T. employees largely working entry level jobs

If the territorial government wants to have better Indigenous representation in its public service, it needs to focus on fixing the “lackadaisical” education system in smaller communities, says Bonnetrouge. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

CBC News: Recently released data from the N.W.T government indicates that Indigenous employees in the public service are still largely confined to entry-level positions.

On Nov. 15, the territory released Indigenous Employment Plans for each of its 11 departments and 13 agencies to the public. The plans are part of its ongoing push to boost the recruitment and retention of Indigenous employees. 

Each plan includes a department-specific breakdown of Indigenous employee ratios by job classification. They also lay out hiring targets for the next two years, four years, and six years, and strategies to increase those targets by rooting out racism and bias in staffing processes.

Looking at the data, it’s clear that there’s less and less Indigenous representation the further up the public service employment ladder you go. So, what gives?

Deh Cho MLA Ronald Bonnetrouge, for one, thinks the territory’s education system is to blame.

“There’s barriers for our people moving up,” he said. “We’re going to get stuck because we don’t have university or college, or public administration [experience]. And many of our people can’t get in there because of the poor quality of education to begin with.”

‘Lackadaisical’ education a big problem in smaller communities, says Deh Cho MLA

The new numbers seem to back Bonnetrouge’s claims. 

Take the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, the biggest employer in the territorial government, as an example. As of March 2022, of its 1,434 employees 297 identified as Indigenous — around 15 per cent. The authority has set targets to expand overall representation by 25 per cent in two years, and 39 per cent in six years.

Break the numbers down further by job classification, and the gap grows.

About 38.5 per cent of those Indigenous employees are working in positions requiring high school equivalencies or less. That’s compared to 20 per cent occupying positions requiring a college or trade equivalency, and 11.6 per cent in positions requiring a university equivalency. Meanwhile, Indigenous employees hold only 8.8 per cent of middle management positions, and 9.1 per cent of senior management positions. 

This trend is replicated across nearly every department of the N.W.T. government, with some exceptions. 

Speaking with CBC News on Friday, Bonnetrouge said these discrepancies are evidence of the territory’s “lackadaisical” education system. “I’m not afraid to call it that,” he said. 

Bonnetrouge — who lives in Fort Providence — said youth from his community often have to travel south for upgrading before they can even attend college or university. He said that the curriculum used is “very limited” and hinders kids from following specialized career paths, such as science or math. 

He says the territorial government is not doing enough to address the problem.

“They’re trying to just wash it aside, saying everything is hunky-dory, our education is world class,” Bonnetrouge said. “And I’m scratching my head saying, ‘Well, what is world class in our education system?’

“This is what our leaders have said in the past: we want good education for our children, for them to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, teachers and such. That speaks volumes about what we expect of  the education system in our small communities.”

Education Minister R.J. Simpson was not immediately available for comment, but the shortcomings of education in the territory have been well-documented over the years.

A report prepared by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment in early 2022 shows that in the 2020-21 school year, 45 per cent of students in smaller communities graduated high school on time (within six years), while 74 per cent of students in Yellowknife graduated on-time. 

Likewise, only 49 per cent of Indigenous students that year graduated on-time, compared to 81 per cent of non-Indigenous students. 

Danny Gaudet pictured here in 2018. Gaudet is the chief of the Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government. Gaudet said he was well-supported back when he used to work for the N.W.T. government, but he feels as though the same supports are no longer offered. (Jamie Malbeuf/CBC)
On-the-job training, summer student opportunities possible solutions

Bonnetrouge is also not the first person to connect the N.W.T. education system with a lack of Indigenous representation in the public service. Chief Danny Gaudet of Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government made similar comments during a meeting of the territory’s standing committee on government operations last month. 

“We really need to have a real serious conversation about education, because I think in the end, if you work for the public sector, a big chunk of it is you have to have an education,” Gaudet said at the time, adding that education in his community was “weak.”

Gaudet also said he was well-supported back when he used to work for the N.W.T. government. He said there were “a lot” of programs to train people on the job, including helping people get into courses to get their diplomas, certificates or even degrees to be qualified for various government jobs. 

“I don’t think you support [employees] like you used to,” he told the government committee.

Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North, chairs that committee. He agrees with Bonnetrouge and Gaudet that education is “no doubt the larger systemic barrier” facing Indigenous candidates.

“We need to be graduating more high school graduates and more post-secondary graduates in order to make up that labour force, and I think, as with many of our social issues, education is the key solution,” he said.

Rylund Johnson is the chair of the standing committee on government operations. He agreed with Gaudet and Bonnetrouge that education is “no doubt the larger systemic barrier” facing Indigenous candidates. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Johnson said the committee has spent the last several months travelling to communities and holding public hearings about ways to increase Indigenous representation in the public service. 

In terms of more immediate solutions, he said many communities demanded more flexibility around hiring requirements for certain jobs with the appropriate on-the-job training to back it up, and expanding its summer student program within smaller communities. 

“A lot of the programs existed in the GNWT, the mentorship and management training programs for Indigenous employees, but they just weren’t being utilized and they weren’t really being promoted,” Johnson said. 

“So that I think is starting to change, and a pretty clear direction has been given to make sure all of those programs are being fully taken advantage of and being promoted to all Indigenous employees.”

October 26, 2021


Revisions to Ethics and Religious Culture course

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador – The Legault government is revising the Ethics and Religious Culture course, offered to secondary school students in the province, with the objective of giving its content a more “Quebec citizenship” focus. The project is part of the new nationalist ideology championed by Premier François Legault. The Premier’s initiative raises many concerns, including those of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).

“What kind of message to young people can be expected by a provincial government that is determined to deny the deep roots of discrimination and racism that make it a systemic scourge? What other message can we expect from a provincial government that is determined not only to deny, but to fight in court the very existence of First Nations’ fundamental rights, including the right to self-determination, to govern themselves according to their rights, customs and traditions?

If we base ourselves on statements and actions that are taken by the Legault government on a daily basis, young Quebecers will be convinced that it is legitimate and fair to have built Quebec’s collective wealth on the backs of First Nations, by depriving them of their right to their territories and resources and that the rights of the “Quebec nation” in terms of culture, language and heritage are superior to those of other nations who share the territory and that this national supremacy is legitimate.

The AFNQL is very concerned that this initiative, with such strong nationalistic content put forward by the Legault government, will be taking us back years whereas, it could have been a step forward towards the Systemic Reconciliation that First Nations are proposing to Quebecers. There are other ways to build national pride,” says AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

January 12, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Rights group releases scathing report on Canada’s violations of Indigenous rights

NationTalk: CTV News, NEW YORK — A prominent human-rights group says Canada is failing to address long-standing abuses, delivering a rebuke of what it calls the federal government’s inadequate climate policy and violations of the rights of Indigenous people and immigration detainees.

Human Rights Watch says more than two dozen First Nations remain under long-term drinking water advisories, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to bring that number down to zero.

The New York-based rights group also says Canada’s border agency continues to operate without independent civilian oversight, detaining some asylum seekers for months or years. The Liberal government has introduced legislation to ensure a dedicated review of the agency, but it remains before Parliament.

The criticisms levelled in the group’s annual “World Report” extend to Canada’s climate change policy, as well. The report censures the government for its G20-leading public financing of fossil-fuel projects and inadequate measures to support First Nations in adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Human Rights Watch had encouraging words, though, for Canada’s support for LGBTQ people, highlighting the federal government’s recent commitments to a national action plan to strengthen rights at home and abroad.

The report, released Thursday, says decades of structural and systemic discrimination against Indigenous Peoples has led to “widespread abuses” that persist across Canada. “Inadequate access to clean, safe drinking water continues to pose a major public health concern in many Indigenous communities and impede efforts to advance Indigenous rights in Canada, one of the world’s most water-rich countries,” the report says.

The federal government says 137 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted since November 2015, with initiatives underway to address the remaining ones.

As a top-10 global greenhouse gas emitter and one of the highest per capita emitters in the world, Canada is “contributing to the climate crisis, and taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe,” the report adds. Despite a new federal emissions reduction plan, Human Rights Watch notes the government continues to permit oil and gas pipeline expansions, including on First Nations land. “Plans to increase fossil-fuel production disregard the government’s human-rights obligation to adopt and implement robust climate mitigation policies,” the report says.

“Federal and provincial climate change policies have failed to put in place adequate measures to support First Nations in adapting to current and anticipated impacts of climate change and have largely ignored the impacts of climate change on First Nations’ right to food.”

In a statement, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault welcomed the report’s findings, saying the government is hard at work implementing a range of measures to achieve Canada’s 2030 target of reducing emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels. Guilbeault listed several actions the government has taken since 2015, from carbon pricing to making it easier for Canadians to switch to zero-emission vehicles.

The government has also introduced a national adaptation strategy to tackle “in a comprehensive way” the effects of climate change, which includes participation from Indigenous groups, he said. “We have started to bend the curve of greenhouse-gas emissions, but we have much more to do to ensure the planet is livable for generations to come.”

Canada is home to more than half of the world’s mining companies, with Canadian companies operating in nearly 100 countries and holding foreign mining assets estimated at US$130 billion, the Human Rights Watch report notes.

However, the Liberal government has “not taken adequate steps” to ensure that Canadian authorities exercise meaningful oversight of Canadian extractive companies operating abroad, it says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023. 

March 16, 2023


Sask. First Act passes in front of gallery full of First Nations and Métis people opposed to bill

Indigenous leaders say Bill 88 infringes on treaty rights

Indigenous leaders and groups were at the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday where the Saskatchewan First Act bill was passed after third reading.
Indigenous leaders and groups were at the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday to oppose the passing of the Saskatchewan First Act. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

CBC News: Saskatchewan’s governing party voted unanimously to pass the Saskatchewan First Act on Thursday in front of a gallery full of First Nations and Métis community members who travelled to the legislature in opposition of the bill.

Last fall, the government introduced Bill 88, saying it would confirm the province’s autonomy and jurisdiction over its natural resources. The act “asserts its exclusive legislative jurisdiction under the Constitution of Canada, and in particular, those matters listed in sections 92 and 92A of the Constitution Act,1867.”

The act says Saskatchewan has jurisdiction over the following:

  • Exploration of non-renewable resources.
  • Development, conservation and management of non-renewable natural and forestry resources.
  • Operation of sites and facilities for generation and production of electricity.
  • Regulation of all industries and businesses falling within provincial jurisdiction.
  • Regulation of fertilizer use.

Premier Scott Moe said the bill is meant to benefit all Saskatchewan people. He said it is designed to “prevent federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction, which is in all people’s best interest in this province.”

The passage of Bill 88 on Thursday was a formality, thanks to the Saskatchewan Party government having a voting majority. All Saskatchewan Party MLAs in attendance voted in favour of the bill, as did Saskatchewan United Party Leader Nadine Wilson.

Opposition NDP members stood and voted against the bill. While they stood, the Indigenous guests in the gallery stood in a show of solidarity.

The bill has been criticized by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), which represents Saskatchewan’s First Nations. The FSIN has said the bill infringes on treaty rights. On Thursday, the FSIN “reaffirmed” its opposition to the act and said it wants to be included in revenue sharing from natural resources.

“First Nations leaders believe the province of Saskatchewan does not have the legal authority to assert exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources, as Treaties signed with First Nations take precedence and pre-date the creation of the government,” the FSIN said in a statement. “FSIN will take legal action to oppose the Act, as it infringes on First Nations Inherent and Treaty Rights to land, water and resources.”

Last fall, the legislative assembly of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) unanimously rejected Bill 88.

The bill was amended before passage Thursday. Government MLA for Athabasca Jim Lemaigre moved to make three changes, most notably to include the following: “Nothing in the Act abrogates or derogates from the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada that are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”

Moe said the inclusion of the amendments was done to clarify that the Bill does not infringe on Indigenous rights. “There is no question as to what the government’s intent is. This bill is not in any way there to circumvent or change or modify the treaty rights that all Indigenous people most certainly have access to.”

MN-S vice-president calls bill ‘short-sighted,’ ‘divisive’

Michelle LeClair, vice-president of MN-S, was among the people that were seated in the galleries who stood up when the Opposition stood before voting no. “It was a show of support for them to say no because we say no, enough is enough.” LeClair called the bill “short-sighted” and “dismissive.”

“To say that we are profoundly disappointed by the passage of this bill would be an understatement.” LeClair said the bill “potentially could create such an impact on our rights. Our hunting, gathering, our ceremonies, all of those things will be greatly diminished.”

Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) Vice President Michelle LeClair speaks to reporters after the Saskatchewan First Act passed.
Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) vice president Michelle LeClair speaks to reporters after the Saskatchewan First Act passed. (Camille Cusset/Radio-Canada)

LeClair said the government has not met or consulted with MN-S on the bill. “I don’t know who they have been talking to. We heard the word dialogue throughout the minister’s speech. But we haven’t had any dialogue or discussions with the provincial government.”

Moe and the government have dismissed claims that they did not consult with First Nations before introducing the bill last year. LeClair said Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre suggesting the MN-S cancelled a meeting is “disingenuous.” “Consultation has to start early, it has to start before a bill is introduced.”

LeClair said she wrote to the minister to have a “nation-to-nation dialogue,” but did not hear back.

Opposition witnesses not allowed to take part in committee discussion

On Wednesday, the bill was discussed at committee for more than five hours.  Opposition justice critic Nicole Sarauer wanted to have Indigenous leaders who travelled to attend committee participate as witnesses and question Justice Minister Bronwyn Eyre and officials, but that motion was denied by government members on the committee.

A government spokesperson said Thursday that the Opposition critic made “numerous surprise motions without notice,” and that if Sarauer wanted to have witnesses appear she should have “provided notice in writing to the committee clerk in advance of the meeting.”

Sarauer said Thursday that she believes Bill 88 will not fundamentally change any of the province’s future court challenges over jurisdiction with the federal government. She said she thinks Bill 88 “will be challenged” in court by Indigenous leaders sooner rather than later.


Adam Hunter, Journalist 

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for more than 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him:

October 27, 2022


Saskatchewan Office of the Treaty Commissioner says throne speech offends treaty rights

Premier Scott Moe at a press conference before the Throne Speech at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell. MLB

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan responded to the 2022 throne speech on Thursday, saying its contents do not work for everyone and offends the treaty and inherent rights of Indigenous people.

“While the Office of the Treaty Commissioner welcomes programs and initiatives with Indigenous communities on health, education, and community policing among others, there remains an ongoing concern on a lack of true engagement and actions,” the Office of the Treaty Commissioner stated in their release.

They say that Scott Moe’s White Paper and The Saskatchewan First Act do not consider First Nations access to provincial resources.

“While talking about having provincial jurisdiction over resources there continues to be no consideration to the impacts of implementing these measures to First Nation inherent rights to access those resources,” they say.

During the throne speech, Scott Moe said, “These measures are about removing barriers to unlock Saskatchewan’s incredible economic potential. We have everything the world needs — food, fuel, fertilizer and an ambitious and talented workforce. We just need to remove the barriers that are preventing us from sustainably developing our resources to their full potential and exporting them to markets around the world where they are needed.”

The constituents of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples states that the government must cooperate with First nations and obtain prior, informed consent in order to adopt and implement measures that may affect them.

“Complete disregard of obligations and infringement of Treaty is not in the best interest of Treaty rights holders, citizens, governments or industry,” said the treaty commissioner.

“First Nations hold inherent rights to the land and natural resources of Canada. They are not stakeholder groups, they are to be co-decisionmakers and acts such as these need to be written collaboratively taking a holistic view of socio, environmental and cultural issues, not just impacts to the economy.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Treaty Commissioner hopes new monarch will strengthen Indigenous relationships

The Office of the Treaty commissioner places responsibility upon the Crown to uphold treaties and has submitted formal correspondence to the Government of Saskatchewan to further discuss.

Global News reached out to the Saskatchewan government but did not hear back before publication.

January 27, 2023

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

SCO Urges Prime Minister to Include First Nations Leaders in Health Meeting

NationTalk: ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada to ensure that First Nations leaders are included in health discussions on February 7, 2023.

“Health care systems are in crisis. They are not meeting the needs of First Nations people, and this is why we are working to transform health at the Southern Chiefs’ Organization,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “First Nations citizens know that we need better services and systems to be healthy, and we need to be able to speak on behalf of our Nations at the First Ministers’ meeting dealing with federal health funding transfers next month.”

First Nations citizens experience disproportionate health challenges and a lower life expectancy compared to non-First Nations citizens in Manitoba.

“The Province of Manitoba continues to receive funding from the Government of Canada to provide health services to us and yet, many of our citizens continue to experience significant challenges when we try to access these services. One major challenge we face is the racism that is embedded within these systems,” shared Grand Chief Daniels. “A first step in combatting this insidious racism is for us to be able to represent and advocate on behalf of our citizens. It is essential we work directly with the federal government to improve health for our First Nations.”

SCO calls on the federal government to invite First Nation leadership to the meeting on February 7 as a sign of respect for First Nations.

“While the Prime Minister’s Office indicates their desire to build a reliable health care system, SCO asserts that First Nations leaders must have the opportunity to speak on behalf of our needs. Ottawa says it wants more data from provincial health care systems. I remind all leaders in government that First Nations must be able to control, access, protect, and own the data for our people. I urge the Prime Minister to ensure we have a seat at the table on February 7,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels.

SCO continues to move ahead with health transformation. In June 2022, the Province of Manitoba committed to develop an Agreement-in-Principle with SCO and Canada. This First Nations led tripartite table will result in the formation of a southern First Nation Health Authority in Manitoba.


The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries:


November 15, 2022


Study reveals 99%+ of Indigenous people surveyed in BC have faced discrimination when using their Indian status card

NationTalk: (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – Indian status card holders face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis when presenting them at stores or to officials, according to a landmark study commissioned by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

The full report is titled “They Sigh or Give You the Look: Discrimination and Status Card Usage” and was prepared using a comprehensive methodology to inform recommendations for government, businesses, and the media.

The decision to commission the study stemmed from the unlawful arrest and detention of Maxwell Johnson when he and his granddaughter presented their federal status cards to open a bank account.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “Status cards have long been the prime catalyst for the public expression of ongoing racism and stereotyping of Indigenous peoples. The media and schools have failed to educate people on the history of status cards and why First Nations peoples have them. These results will help us to begin educating Canada so that no grandfather and no granddaughter need ever suffer violence when lawfully going about their business.”

The findings show discrimination is a near-universal experience amongst status First Nations individuals who have used their status card. This experience is traumatic, particularly for those experiencing other compounding and overlapping forms of oppression, and shapes people’s behaviour for a lifetime.

The report also underlines the ways that traditional and social media portray status card usage as a platform for anti-Indigenous racism.

“I will never forget being handcuffed and seeing my grand-daughter standing on the street, crying and handcuffed,” stated Maxwell Johnson. “She was 12 years old, and we were just trying to open a bank account for her.  We both have to live with this trauma and the fears caused by it including what could happen the next time we show our Indian status cards. UBCIC’s report is an important step forward to revealing the discrimination Indigenous peoples experience every day.  I want to see governments and businesses step up to learn, educate, and eliminate this kind of discrimination.”

“The burden of educating people on status cards is unjustly on First Nations people when the government has been negligent in providing the proper and relevant resources to educate public service workers and the public about the legality and legitimacy of status cards as government-issued identification,” stated Chief Marilyn Slett, Heiltsuk Nation. “The end result is unacceptable and traumatizing incidents like those of Mr. Johnson and Tori-Anne who merely wanted to do some banking.”

“Using a literature review, media analysis, online survey, and behavioural fieldwork, the study uncovered a near-universal experience of discrimination amongst status First Nations who have used a status card,” said Harmony Johnson, the report’s author, “Although this is an issue we all know about, there were no existing studies available. That excuse no longer exists.”


UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For more information:

  • Please visit
  • The Johnson family and Heiltsuk Nation’s fight against systemic racism includes the Strong as Cedar campaign ( which empowers Indigenous people and communities of colour to fight racism in Canada by sharing and gathering stories and highlighting solutions for change.

Download Report

December 5, 2022


Systemic racism and discrimination: A clear message sent to the government of Quebec

NationTalk: Kahnawake – Quebec Native Women (QNW) held a large gathering this afternoon near the Quebec National Assembly to send a clear message to the government of Prime Minister François Legault: systemic racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, particularly Indigenous women, exists in Quebec, and it is time for the government to recognize this and take concrete action to end it.

In this regard, QNW urges the Government of Quebec to not only recognize the existence of systemic racism and discrimination, but further to adopt Joyce’s Principle. This would thus guarantee all Indigenous Peoples the right to equitable access without discrimination to all health and social services, as well as the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. QNW also wishes to recall that Every Child Matters and the calls for Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“Today, Indigenous Peoples and their allies gathered in large numbers to demand that the Quebec government respond to the demands and concerns of Indigenous women. Premier Legault can no longer turn a blind eye. He must acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and adopt Joyce’s Principle. The quality of our lives and those of future generations depends on it,” said Marjolaine Étienne, president of Quebec Native Women.


“Recognition of Joyce’s Principle is absolutely essential to ensure that the full range of services is equal and fair to all. It is a struggle that we must wage together for social justice, but also for the recognition of our rights as human beings. Systemic racism does exist, and this must first be recognized in order to bring about real change at the government level and in Quebec society as a whole,” declared Sipi Flamand, Chief of the Manawan Atikamekw Council and bearer of Joyce’s Principle in his speech.

Many courageous participants braved the bad weather of the day and showed up at the QNW gathering demanding that the Quebec government recognize the existence of systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec and adopt Joyce’s Principle. The tragic events surrounding the death of Joyce Echaquan, as well as the recent revelations regarding imposed sterilization without free and informed consent, illustrate the dire need to provide culturally safe services across all areas.

“For Joyce’s memory, we will never abandon the mission she left as a legacy to all of us. Her cry will never be lost. It is united, together that we must work. The path will not be easy, but it is possible. Our cultures must regain respect and dignity, it is the foundation of our values. The Prime Minister must recognize that systemic

racism exists and that it must be eliminated to allow our peoples to receive the services to which all humanity is entitled. We are confident that the people of Quebec will stand with us and that together, for future generations, we will solidify these cracked bridges,” said Diane Dubé, mother of Joyce Echaquan, in her speech at the gathering.


To take part in QNW’s efforts to be heard by the government, the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population is invited to distribute and sign the online petition on the National Assembly website. This petition will be brought before the elected officials next March by the deputy and co-spokesperson of Québec solidaire, Manon Massé, in order to ask the Government of Quebec to recognize systemic racism and discrimination in Québec and to adopt Joyce’s Principle.

Link for the online petition:


Contact for information and interviews requests:
Doreen Petiquay Barthold
Communications Officer
(514) 757-1508 \

Éric Duguay
Media Relation Associate
(514) 377-1980 /

June 1, 2023

Fed. Govt.

Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson requests that the Canada Revenue Agency improve the information it provides to Indigenous Peoples

NationTalk: From: Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson – OTTAWA – The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson, Mr. François Boileau, has sent a service improvement request to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), asking it to update its information for Indigenous Peoples on

Right before the CRA began the 2023 tax-filing season, the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson (OTO) reviewed the CRA’s web pages for Indigenous Peoples. During this review, the OTO found some areas that are inaccurate or unclear.

For example, the “Taxes and benefits for Indigenous peoples” web page provides information on a simplified paper income tax and benefit return, but it refers to a form that is no longer in use. Additionally, the CRA has a factsheet for Indigenous Peoples, but some of the information on this factsheet can be confusing or misleading. Specifically, the wording related to the Canada child benefit, child care expenses, and Northern Service Centres is unclear and could create confusion and frustration.

It is paramount to provide accurate and clear information, especially at the beginning of the tax-filing season. According to public opinion research that the CRA conducted in 2022, Indigenous Peoples’ trust in and satisfaction with the CRA, as well as their rate of tax filing, are generally lower than the rest of population. While the Ombudsperson commends the CRA for having resources tailored to Indigenous Peoples, he would like to stress that inaccurate and unclear information results in, at best, more difficulties for them when filing their tax returns and, at worst, erosion of their trust in the tax system.

Additionally, filing a return is necessary for receiving benefits and credits. As well, those who do not file their returns and have less trust in the CRA are generally those who need the benefits and credits the most.

Although the OTO recognizes that the CRA makes an effort to provide information specific to Indigenous Peoples, there are still several areas that need improvement. Therefore, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson requests that the CRA:

  • develop a review strategy to ensure the information it provides to Indigenous Peoples is complete, accurate, and clear;
  • update all the information it is providing to Indigenous Peoples that is out of date; and
  • find a solution to ensure timely and up-to-date information is provided to Indigenous Peoples before each tax-filing season.

Background information

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson works independently from the CRA. Canadians can submit complaints to the Office if they feel they are not receiving the appropriate service from the CRA. Our main objective is to improve the service the CRA provides to taxpayers and benefit recipients by reviewing individual service complaints and service issues that affect more than one person or a segment of the population.

The Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson assists, advises and informs the Minister of National Revenue about matters relating to services provided by the CRA. The Ombudsperson ensures, in particular, that the CRA respects eight of the service rights outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.


The CRA has stated that it is working to reduce the number of non-filers. However, if the information in the material the CRA gives to the public is unclear or outdated, this information can become one of the barriers to filing.

Mr. François Boileau, Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson

Associated links


Media enquiries

Media Relations

Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson / Government of Canada

June 9, 2022


The CAQ’s record with Indigenous peoples is historically disappointing

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador: Wendake, QC – As the parliamentary session in Quebec City comes to an end, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is drawing up a less than rosy assessment of the Legault government’s mandate in terms of its relations with First Nations. From its recent adoption of Bill 96 to its refusal to recognize systemic racism, the CAQ has shown indifference, and even contempt and paternalism towards First Nations, marking a break from previous governments.

“Respect for language and culture, children’s rights, and discrimination, the Legault government has not delivered in any of these areas and has demonstrated not only arrogance, but also a glaring lack of consideration toward the realities of First Nations. Unfortunately, we have witnessed four years of missed appointments,” stated Ghislain Picard, despite having seen many governments come and go after 30 years as Chief of the AFNQL.

A series of setbacks on fundamental rights

  1. Language: the adoption of Bill 96 imposes a historic setback in terms of First Nations’ language rights. In 1977, when Bill 101 was passed, Indigenous communities, whose languages and cultures were already greatly weakened, were exempted from the application of the Charter of the French Language, a principle that has since been recognized and respected by all subsequent governments.
    • Yet, the Legault government has chosen to ignore this principle.
  2. Systemic Racism: In parallel, for the past four years, every minister in the Legault government, like their leader, has stubbornly denied the existence of systemic racism against First Nations in Quebec, despite the evidence and reports that keep accumulating and proving the Legault government wrong. In the wake of the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, Minister Ian Lafrenière made the minimum commitment required by the circumstances: to include the notion of cultural safety in the Act Respecting Health services and Social Services (ARHSSS).
    • This spring, the government reneged on its word by not amending the ARHSSS to that effect.
  3. Youth Protection: The Legault government rejected several of the main recommendations issued by the Viens and Laurent Commissions which among others, included:
    • the recognition and respect of First Nations’ jurisdiction over youth protection and the abolition of time limits for placement in Indigenous communities.
  4. Child Protection: To add insult to injury, before the Supreme Court of Canada, Quebec is now challenging the constitutionality of the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (C-92), which affirms First Nations’ jurisdiction over child and family services. Yet, the reports of the Viens and Laurent Commissions recognized, as a basic principle, our right to self-determination.
    • In addition, in its historic decision rendered on February 10, 2022, the Quebec Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court, recognized that Aboriginal self-government in child and family services is an Aboriginal right guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  5. United Nations Declaration: Yet, newly elected, François Legault had announced his intention to multiply “nation-to-nation agreements” with Indigenous Peoples. In October 2019, the National Assembly of Quebec even unanimously adopted a motion recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    • COMMENT: Indigenous Watchdog- Legault changed his mind and no longer supports UNDRIP. Québec was one of six provinces objecting to the Bill C-15 in a letter sent to PM Trudeau on Nov. 27, 2020.

“This record is a huge disappointment. The Legault government’s words have never been supported by its actions. Our approach has always been one of good faith and good will. Faced with so many rebuffs, we will make sure that we are heard during the next few months and over the course of the election campaign,” concluded Chief Picard.

July 11, 2019

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

The Council of The Federation, bi-annual meetings of the Federal, Provincial and Territory Premiers

Refusal to allow leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and the Native Woman’s Association of Canada to participate in the main body of meetings with a primary focus on climate change within each jurisdiction. As has been noted by numerous media, Indigenous peoples are on the frontlines of climate change, especially in the north.

Multiple articles in UNDRIP explicitly address the rights of Indigenous peoples “to free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them” (Article 19) as well other fundamental rights relating to treaties and land claims, spiritual relationship “to lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources (Article 25)”,and “the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources (Article 29).

Articles 1, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 37, 40, 42, 46

Fully and completely honor the commitment to UNDRIP specifically and “Reconciliation” in general. Develop and implement the logistical framework and protocols to allow the leadership of the designated national Indigenous organizations – AFN, Métis National Council, Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and Native Women’s Association of Canada) to participate in all agenda items that directly impact Indigenous peoples.

April 25, 2023


The Naskapi Development Corporation asks the Quebec government to set up a negotiation table

NationTalk: QUEBEC – The Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) is calling for the establishment of a negotiating table to obtain equitable and recurrent funding that meets the needs of the entire Naskapi Nation.

The funding currently provided to the NDC is insufficient and hinders Naskapi development projects. Following a meeting with the Minister responsible for Relations with First Nations and Inuit, Ian Lafrenière, on April 6, the President of the Naskapi Development Corporation, Andy-John Dominique, stated “We have proposed our collaboration on numerous occasions in order to jointly find funding solutions. Simply taking part in general consultation processes with specific bills, as proposed by the Minister, will not be enough to regularize our situation. We reiterate our determination to ensure the sustainability of our services, which are at the heart of our mission, and hope that the Quebec government will be a real partner. We have asked Minister Lafrenière to set up a negotiating table that would be responsible for reaching an acceptable agreement regarding financial support for the NDC and its members.

Considering the collaborative approach shown on several occasions over the years by the Government of Quebec to discuss the autonomy of the NDC, the organization reiterates its request to establish a formal process to negotiate an agreement for a new funding regime adapted to its reality. The Naskapi appreciate the government’s openness to engage in a constructive and transparent discussion to adequately address the issues and needs of all Naskapi and their future generations.

The NDC wishes to proceed expeditiously with negotiations to put in place a process to secure adequate funding. The Naskapi Development Corporation (“NDC”) currently operates and fulfills its obligations without receiving funding from Quebec, despite its legal responsibility to do so. “We are forced to assume financial responsibility for the numerous projects that the government is asking us to undertake. We have been patient and have acted in good faith and now want to work in partnership with this government,” added Andy-John Dominique.

About the Naskapi Development Corporation

Founded in 1978, the Naskapi Development Corporation is a non-profit association created by the Province of Quebec under the Naskapi Development Corporation Act, pursuant to section 17 of the NEQA. Its objective is to fight against poverty and to see to the well-being and educational advancement of the Naskapi. To ensure better living conditions, to promote the development of the Naskapi community, to foster, promote, protect, and help preserve the Naskapi way of life, values and traditions. In addition to performing such other functions as are assigned to it by other legislation or by the Agreement.

For further information: Emmanuelle St-Onge, Ryan Affaires publiques et Communication,, T. 819-852-2582

August 30, 2022

The political relationship between First Nations and the Government of Quebec needs to be fixed: Québec 2022 election

WENDAKE, QC, Aug. 30, 2022 – With the election campaign now underway, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) would like to remind political parties and their leaders that the priority issues of First Nations have too often been absent and ignored during provincial election campaigns.

The political relationship between First Nations Governments and the Government of Quebec is in dire need of inspiration. Among its priorities, the AFNQL is asking of the next government to make a committment to the holding of a special parliamentary commission of the National Assembly which will allow for a real dialogue between the elected representatives of Quebec and those of the ten (10) Nations in Quebec can take place.

“It is clear that First Nations issues, across the country, occupy an unprecedented place, except in Quebec, where successive governments have developed a culture of procrastination by handing over the responsibility of providing responses to our demands,” recalls Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL. “The fundamental rights of First Nations can no longer be ignored. It is time to develop a relationship marked with respect, without the Government of Quebec imposing its conditions on our governments. The self-determination of our peoples must be the starting point,” continues Chef Picard.

The AFNQL would also like to highlight the number of Indigenous candidates who are challenging the status quo and bring about a wind of change in a process that is not used to being confronted with the Indigenous context. “I would like to acknowledge and welcome the courage of candidates from our Nations. Their courage will be necessary for the province of Quebec which responds well to tragedies but falls short when it comes to proposing measures to provide lasting solutions,” added Chief Picard. The AFNQL would like to remind everyone that it will be present and will keep a close watch throughout the campaign to ensure that the priorities of the First Nations have the place they deserve in the public space.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together the 43 chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

For further information: Marie Celine Einish, Communications Advisor, AFNQL,, C: 438-522-4642


July 26, 2019

Fed. Govt., NT, NU, YT

Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic

Failure to take a leadership role in positioning the Canadian arctic for success in a rapidly evolving arctic political landscape. “As the effects of climate change increase access to the Arctic, the global geopolitical context for the region is changing. With enormous untapped opportunities for shipping, research and resource development, many countries are looking to pursue their own national interests in the region, including economic and security interests.

Canada has no guarantee that the interests of these other state actors coincide with its own interests and priorities. Nor can we be certain that existing rules, agreements and international institutions are still up to the task of reconciling and settling competing interests in the Arctic space – in what is effectively Canada’s own backyard.” Toward a Plan – Strengthening Canada’s Position in the Arctic”.

Keynote Vision Address: Bob Mcleod

Premier Bob Mcleod of the Northwest Territories believes our national plan needs to be built on three elements:

  • leveraging the geographic advantage represented by the three territories
  • ramping up Canada’s northern presence, and
  • increasing Canada’s knowledge about the north.

He also thinks it is important that the residents of Canada’s three Northern territories, including its Indigenous residents… have a leading say in determining Canada’s plan for the Arctic. We are the ones who live there. We are the ones who are repeatedly affected when decisions are made for us, rather than with us. We are an obvious partner when discussions about what happens next take place.

Considering that the Canadian Arctic links across the Arctic Ocean to Russia, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the United States, we should be the major player with the ability to decisively set the terms for the Arctic — but only if we make a concerted and deliberate effort to build on the advantages we already have in our three Northern territories.

July 9, 2019

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada

Upstream – Failure to reduce the level of poverty among Indigenous children. Tracking Indigenous child poverty and non-Indigenous child poverty trends between Census 2006 and Census 2016, it’s clear that these differences have not markedly changed over that 10-year period. “Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada” co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and published by Upstream: Institute for a Healthy Society says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.

The following straightforward recommendations should be included in the federal government’s poverty reduction plan:

  • Low-income lines, including the Market Basket Measure (MBM) and the after-tax Low Income Measure (LIM-AT), should be applied on reserves and in the territories;
  • Reserves, conditional upon the agreement of First Nations governments, should be included in annual income surveys, as has already begun to occur in the territories;
  • The federal government should commit to a 20% reduction in MBM poverty on reserves between 2015 and 2020 and 50% reduction between 2015 and 2030.16 This is in line with the national goals, but should be evaluated separately for reserves;
  • The federal government should commit to supporting self-determination, both financially and jurisdictionally, with an emphasis on revenue sharing.

December 15, 2020

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

TRC Commissioners comments about pace of Reconciliation

APTN – The three commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Senator Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr. Marie Wilson, are issuing a public statement expressing their concern about the slow and uneven pace of implementation of the Calls to Action released by the TRC five years ago today… While they acknowledge important and encouraging initiatives that have been made, they note that the essential foundations for reconciliation have yet to be implemented, despite government commitments, especially the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and the National Council for Reconciliation The three Commissioners have come together for the first time since the release of TRC’s final report because they feel strongly that the sense of urgency, purpose and unity around the Calls to Action must be renewed.

“Five years ago today, we delivered a report, and 94 Calls to Action, that we hoped would change the fabric of Canada forever, and bring forward important changes in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. We’ve seen some promising changes like new curriculum and courses that teach the history of Residential Schools in Canada. However, it is very concerning that the federal government still does not have a tangible plan for how they will work towards implementing the Calls to Action,” said Senator Murray Sinclair.

June 30, 2022


Tŝilhqot’in Nation Condemns Destructive B.C. Moose Harvest Allocation

Williams Lake, B.C.: The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is condemning the B.C. government’s destructive moose harvest allocation for the Chilcotin Region in recent days and expressing its opposition, in the strongest terms, to B.C.’s drastic escalation of Limited Entry Hunts (LEH) for moose in Tŝilhqot’in territory.

Tŝilhqot’in people depend on moose for sustenance and cultural survival. For many years, Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members have reported struggling moose populations, and not enough moose to feed our families and communities. Many members have chosen not to hunt moose for the past several years, out of concern for the survival of moose populations.

The Province’s own surveys show the moose population in the Chilcotin at its lowest point on record. Instead of raising the alarm, the Province has now drastically increased the LEH for moose – effectively doubling the number of moose LEH permits issued in the Chilcotin region compared to last year.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation opposes LEH moose hunting in the territory, given the lowest population estimates on record and the devastating impacts on habitat in recent years from unprecedented wildfires, beetle epidemics, wide-scale industrial logging and increased predation and competition with other species.

BC’s decision to increase the LEH in Tŝilhqot’in territory disrespects and disregards the traditional knowledge of Tŝilhqot’in hunters and members, and violates the Aboriginal rights and title of the Tŝilhqot’in peoples, and our international human rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Tŝilhqot’in Nation has a duty and responsibility under Tŝilhqot’in law to prevent the destruction of the moose population in our territory. Tŝilhqot’in leaders are meeting together and with membership to decide next steps in response to B.C.’s decision and the direct threat that it poses to the wellbeing of Tŝilhqot’in families and communities, and the survival of the Tŝilhqot’in way of life.


Nits’ilʔin (Chief) Joe Alphonse, O.B.C, Tŝilhqot’in National Government

“We have to take action on this issue. Mismanagement of our wildlife affects us directly. The 2017 wildfires left much of our wildlife stressed from the destruction of their habitat. Our people rely heavily on the moose populations. The province needs to do more – a business as usual approach will not be tolerated. We do not recognize the authority of any government to make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections – and mismanage our lands and wildlife. We have fought to maintain jurisdiction over our territory, and there is a blatant disregard for that when it comes to the management of wildlife. B.C. needs to start acting to protect and preserve these populations. Our people are not going to sit and watch moose disappear in the territory like we have witnessed with the caribou. Hunters that planned to come to the Chilcotin need to be making other plans – don’t come to the Chilcotin.”

Nits’ilʔin Otis Guichon, Sr., Tŝideldel First Nation, TNG Tribal Vice-Chair

“Our people are living with crisis upon crisis. Our salmon runs have collapsed to record lows and for the first time our people have had to choose not to fish for food in recent years. Our members are not getting the moose they need to feed their families. Our caribou populations are threatened and at risk of extinction in our lifetime. These are decisions that affect whether we can put food on our tables for our elders and our communities. This B.C. government continues to talk about UNDRIP and reconciliation, but they continue to ignore and disrespect us, and make the same decisions – without our consent, over our objections, and mismanage our lands and wildlife to the state that they are in now. Our people will not stand for it. The BC Government should be ashamed of this decision”

April 11, 2023

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Western premiers blast Lametti for suggesting Ottawa might ‘look at’ provinces’ power over natural resources

Lametti told an AFN meeting he would examine calls to rescind Natural Resources Transfer Act

David Lametti at a press conference.
Justice Minister David Lametti is being pressed to retract a comment that suggested the federal government is willing to revisit the legislation giving western provinces control over their natural resources. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

CBC News: Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and three western premiers are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to disassociate his government from comments made by his justice minister — who promised last week to “look at” a decades-old law that gives control over natural resources to the four western provinces.

“The federal government cannot unilaterally change the Constitution,” the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba said in a joint statement Tuesday. “It should not even be considering stripping resource rights away from the three Prairie provinces. “The prime minister needs to immediately retract these dangerous and divisive comments by his justice minister.”

Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre accused Justice Minister David Lametti of threatening to overturn the Constitution and take federal control over provincial resources. “I’ll never allow this attack by the costly coalition on our Prairie resource workers,” Poilievre tweeted. “I’ll put westerners in control of their resources and lives.”

Poilievre’s tweet prompted Lametti to shoot back. “This isn’t true,” Lametti tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “At no point did I commit our government to reviewing areas of provincial jurisdiction.”

The controversy was sparked by comments Lametti made on April 5 while answering questions during a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.

‘It won’t be uncontroversial’

Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte of the Prince Albert Grand Council and Chief Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte called on the federal government to rescind the Natural Resources Transfer Act — legislation passed by the federal government and provinces in 1930 which transferred the administration of natural resources from Ottawa to the four western provinces.

“Canada exports natural resources to other countries. They earn trillions of dollars in revenues from those resources,” Maracle said. “Those resources were given to the provinces without ever asking one Indian if it was okay to do that, or what benefits would the First Nations expect to receive by Canada consenting to that arrangement.”

Lametti acknowledged the chiefs’ comments. “I obviously can’t pronounce on that right now but I do commit to looking at that,” he told the AFN. “It won’t be uncontroversial, is the only thing I would say, with a bit of a smile.”

Premier Scott Moe is in India on a trade mission. His government opened a trade office in New Delhi, India last year.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called Lametti’s comment “dangerous and divisive.” (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

That proved to be an understatement. On Monday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe described Lametti’s comment as “dangerous and divisive.””On what basis does the federal justice minister think he has the authority to unilaterally strip Saskatchewan and the other western provinces of our constitutional authority over our natural resources?” he said in a tweet.

“Saskatchewan has always had reason to be concerned about this federal government’s agenda to infringe on provincial jurisdiction and autonomy, and we will be relentless in defending our jurisdiction and autonomy. “The prime minister needs to immediately tell his justice minister he has no business even speculating about rescinding western provinces’ constitutional authority to control our natural resources.”

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson described Lametti’s comments as “needless provocation.” “Reckless comments from the federal justice minister threatening Manitoba’s control over natural resources need to be immediately withdrawn,” Stefanson tweeted Tuesday.

“The recent suggestion that the federal government will look at rescinding constitutional Natural Resource Transfer Agreements from the 1930s with Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is another example of divisive disregard for the Prairie provinces.”

A woman is pictured in front of a green backdrop.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said any move to change the rules on natural resources would jeopardize national unity. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith called on Lametti to retract and apologize for his comments. “I just received word that the federal justice minister may attempt to rescind the 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreement with the Prairie provinces,” Smith tweeted Monday. “This would pose an unprecedented risk to national unity and Alberta condemns this federal threat in the strongest possible terms.”

Lametti was not available Tuesday for an interview. In a statement issued on Twitter Monday to clarify his comments, he said it’s part of his job to listen to the concerns expressed by First Nations chiefs. “To be clear, at no point did I commit our government to reviewing areas of provincial jurisdiction, including that over natural resources,” he wrote. “The focus of our government’s work is to co-develop an action plan with Indigenous partners that will show the path we must take towards aligning federal laws and policies with UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).”

Lametti’s tweet did little to reassure Conservative MPs from Saskatchewan, who vowed to protect the province’s control over natural resources. “Developing our oil, gas and minerals is tough enough with the Liberal government’s regulations designed to stifle projects and Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax making costs higher in Canada,” 15 MPs said in a joint statement. “Imagine how much worse it would be if the Trudeau Liberals were to take direct control over resource development.”

The MPs called on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to say he would not support that kind of move.

NDP natural resources critic Charlie Angus called on all parties to work together. “We all have to work together to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to benefit and make decisions about potential natural resources projects on their land,” Angus said in a media statement. “This means that both the federal and provincial governments have an obligation to engage in proper consultation, build in strong economic partnerships and set high standards for environmental protection of traditional lands. That’s the way we move forward as a nation.”

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said the transfer of land and natural resources to the western provinces was done contrary to First Nations laws and customs.  “First Nations were never involved in this process. It was something that was done unilaterally without any First Nations people at the table,” she said. “I think it’s time that we be heard as well. We have shared our lands for over 100 years and we need to be considered, to be at the table.”

Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations praised what he described as Lametti’s “awesome” comments and had a message for western premiers. “You have unsettled business in your provinces, you have unsettled business with those First Nations and you had better meet with them and listen to them,” he said Monday. “Your way is not the right way. Your way has failed. It is the First Nations’ treaty perspective that will prevail.”

The Assembly of First Nations has not yet responded to requests for comment from CBC News.


Elizabeth Thompson, Senior reporter

Award-winning reporter Elizabeth Thompson covers Parliament Hill. A veteran of the Montreal Gazette, Sun Media and iPolitics, she currently works with the CBC’s Ottawa bureau, specializing in investigative reporting and data journalism. She can be reached at:

November 18, 2021

BC, Fed. Govt.

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Toronto Star – Fifteen people, including Indigenous elders, media and legal observers, had been arrested by the afternoon, according to Jennifer Wickham, a spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs and their supporters. Wickham stressed they had been acting peacefully.

Wickham said armed RCMP officers in tactical gear with canine units and heavy machinery moved into the Gidimt’en blockade at the 44-kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road, using a vehicle and other obstacles to block the road. The blockade had been in place since Sunday after being set up by members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. They described the blockade as an effort to enforce an “eviction notice” on the company that the nation had first issued last year.

Wickham said Thursday the memorandum of understanding was meant to work toward agreements on Wet’suwet’en rights and titles; it did not include consent to the pipeline. She said pipeline opponents largely stepped back from protests due to the pandemic and to see how the talks progressed.
But they have not gone anywhere, she said.

February 6, 2020

BC, Fed. Govt.

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – RCMP began aggressively raiding Wet’suwet’en traditional and unceded territories under the watch of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC concluded “Using armed force to take Indigenous peoples off their unceded and traditional territories against their will is not reconciliation, it is colonialism in all of its ugliness and hypocrisy.

January 6, 2020

BC, Fed. Govt.

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLInk protests

Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church’s decision granting an interlocutory injunction, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), and have issued and enforced an eviction of CGL’s workers from the territory.

“Canada and the B.C. government have both pledged to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but are trying to impose their laws over Wet’suwet’en laws. If this was really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada’s own courts. The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same. There is no reconciliation in the actions that unfolded yesterday.” AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde

January 10, 2019

BC, Fed. Govt.

Wet’suwet’en Coastal GasLink protests

What happens when you engage Hereditary Chiefs in the Process vs excluding them?

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – “There are not a lot of similarities between the Broughton and the Unist’ot’en engagement with the Province (as stated by Premier John Horgan). In June, government-to-government work between our three Nations and the Province was confirmed in a letter of understanding (LOU) formalizing ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago. Importantly, this was a jointly developed consent-based process where our Title and Rights were recognized and as a result, we included our hereditary leadership in decision-making on outcomes.

That’s an extremely important distinction because for us, that’s how we respected Delgamuukw and the wishes of our people. The Province also followed its own decision-making process. There was space in the process to revisit any Tenure decisions that weren’t jointly accepted. I’m confident that we would not have reached a point of RCMP action at Gitimd’en if a jointly designed, consent-based process had been in place.” Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation

October 15, 2020

BC, Fed. Govt.

Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – Coastal GasLink called in the RCMP to remove a group of Wet’suwet’en women and community members who are holding ceremony at a proposed drill site for Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline. UBCIC stands in solidarity with the Indigenous land defenders who are protecting the Wedzin Kwa, the river that sustains and gives life to their Nation, from test drilling. These land defenders are lawfully exercising their right to steward their unceded territories and strengthen their cultural ties to their lands through the sacred responsibility of prayer, smudging, and ceremony.

The presence of the RCMP and the threat they represent – surveillance, intimidation, arrest, discrimination, and violence – undermines the authority and self-determination of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands.

Given the forthcoming provincial election and renewed statements from political leaders regarding the importance of reconciliation and advancing Indigenous relations, it is worrisome that systemic violations of fundamental Indigenous and human rights continue to occur over major energy projects such as the CGL pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of additional challenges First Nations are facing, the Province can no longer afford to deem industrial projects like the CGL pipeline and the TMX as essential services and adopt a “business as usual” approach. The health and safety of Indigenous communities must be prioritized.

Indigenous land defenders and community members cannot be criminalized and targeted for asserting their Title and Rights and conducting

May 2, 2023


Work of the monitoring committee of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection: The AFNQL and FNQLHSSC are satisfied

NationTalk: Wendake — Two years ago, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) reacted favourably to the long-awaited report from the monitoring committee of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection (CSDEPJ). Today, it is in the same spirit that they welcome the preliminary results of the CSDEPJ monitoring committee’s work.

As stated Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL: “The CSDEPJ monitoring committee’s proposals echo the message that we have been hammering out on the public stage for years, namely the importance of recognizing the First Nations’ right to self-determination. As part of the evaluation framework being released today, it is written in black and white that the Government of Quebec should not be asking itself what it must do to ‘allow us to develop our own laws’, but rather what it must do to ‘avoid preventing First Nations from developing their own laws and what it must do to allow their full deployment’. We are counting on the support of the CSDEPJ monitoring committee to put pressure on the Government of Quebec to ensure that it respects its commitments.”

“We are in the best position to secure the future and wellness of our nations, families and children through child and family services designed according to our realities, cultures and values. It is high time for the Quebec government to recognize and respect our expertise and jurisdiction. And this starts with a position that is entirely favourable to the full implementation of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families,” added Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors.

For more information regarding the evaluation framework and indicators, visit the monitoring commitee’s website.

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization that brings together 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador.

About the FNQLHSSC

The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission is a non-profit organization that accompanies Quebec First Nations in achieving their health, wellness, culture and self-determination goals.