Chapter 2: First Nations priorities

First Nations priorities

Self-determination, self-government and recognition of treaties (articles 3, 4, 37)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Continue work underway with First Nations partners on a new fiscal relationship to provide sufficient, predictable and flexible funding in support of closing socioeconomic gaps and advancing self-determination. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  2. Re-affirm pre-1975 treaty relationships based on the principles of mutual respect, self-determination and the nation-to-nation relationship. Engage Treaty Nations in co-developing approaches, including reconvening of Treaty Councils if Nations wish to do so, for the renewal and honourable implementation of pre-1975 treaties and treaty relationships, including a shared vision to guide actions and a common understanding of the spirit and intent of pre-1975 treaties. (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada)

Lands, territories and resources (articles 10, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Continue to co-develop options for reform of the Specific Claims program, and the development of a reformed specific claims resolution process, including a Centre for the resolution of specific claims, to administer and oversee the process presently performed by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. As part of this process, co-develop changes to the Specific Claims Policy and amendments to the Specific Claims Tribunal Act as necessary to implement a reformed Specific Claims resolution process that is consistent with the UN Declaration. (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada)
  2. Building on the adoption of co-developed amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (Bill C-45), which seek to address capacity and institutional gaps, including through enhancements to the institutions’ mandate and data collection functions, the establishment of the First Nations Infrastructure Institute, and the expansion of First Nations’ law-making powers and enforcement tools under the Act, it is proposed that Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada continues to work closely with the Institutions under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, Indigenous Services Canada and other relevant federal and Indigenous partners to explore new concepts and the co-development of new or enhanced opt-in mechanisms and initiatives to allow First Nations to strengthen their capacity and assume greater jurisdiction and control in the areas of financial management, taxation, access to capital markets, and infrastructure-related service delivery. (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada)
  3. Co-develop a redesign of the Additions to Reserve Policy. (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada)

Environment (article 29)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Support the environmental integrity of reserve lands by addressing and preventing the contamination of reserve lands, building effective community-based waste management solutions that include proper disposal of hazardous and plastic waste. (Indigenous Services Canada)

Civil and political rights (articles 6, 7, 9, 17, 33, 35, 36)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Support the adoption of Bill C-38, which seeks to address discrimination in the registration and membership provisions of the Indian Act. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  2. Co-develop a collaborative consultation process on a suite of broader reforms relating to registration and band membership issues, prior to any transition away from the Indian Act.

    This includes to consult, cooperate and effectively engage with First Nations women to eliminate remaining gender-based issues.

    Canada recognizes that the Indian Act is a colonial-era law designed to exert control over the affairs of First Nations, and as such, the Act will never be fully aligned with the UN Declaration. For Canada’s laws to fulfill the UN Declaration, the Indian Act must be repealed.

    The government is seeking to make the Act’sregistration and band membership provisions more consistent with the UN Declaration, until a clear consensus on a way forward on comprehensive change or the Act’s repeal is possible. (Indigenous Services Canada)

  3. Consult First Nations and other impacted Indigenous groups to support the co-development of opt-in alternatives to Indian Act registration and membership (First Nation citizenship). This will include a broad spectrum of Indigenous demographic groups, such as women, girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people, Elders, Treaty groups, etc. (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; Indigenous Services Canada)
  4. Work with First Nations partners and representative organizations to advance the co-development of federal legislation that recognizes First Nations police services as essential services. (Public Safety Canada)

Economic, health and social rights (articles 20, 21, 22, 23, 24)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Continue to explore options with First Nations on their proposal to exercise their jurisdiction over their housing and for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to transfer the care and control of funding for on-reserve housing programs to First Nations. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
  2. Support initiatives aimed at increasing First Nations control over service delivery, which represents an opportunity to foster a more accessible health care system for the communities they serve, ensuring that health services are high quality and culturally safe. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  3. Collaborate with First Nations organizations on a sustainable approach to transfer First Nations health programs and services through various health transformation initiatives, including in the following jurisdictions: British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  4. Continue to improve the Income Assistance program in a way that is more responsive to the needs of individuals and families living on-reserve, including more comprehensive income assistance programming that at least meets provincial comparability. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  5. Continue to work with First Nations on closing infrastructure gaps on reserve – based on priorities identified by communities - with the goal of improving current service delivery (including increasing the number of housing units) as well as supporting increased First Nations capacity for housing governance, management and planning. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  6. Continue to support lifting of short and long term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  7. Continue efforts to advance water and wastewater service transfer to First Nations communities and support self-determined service delivery models in First Nations communities. This includes advancing development and introduction, in consultation with First Nations, of new proposed First Nations drinking water and wastewater legislation that includes pathways to protect source water and legally enforceable safe drinking water protections on First Nation lands comparable to those in place in provinces and territories. (Indigenous Services Canada)
  8. Ensure the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act with respect to First Nations Band Councils is culturally appropriate, and that First Nations are supported in advancing accessibility at the community level by:
    • Engaging with First Nations on legislative and regulatory options for the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act on First Nations reserves
    • Identifying options to build accessibility capacity and expertise at the community level and support First Nations communities in removing barriers to accessibility. (Employment and Social Development Canada)

Education, information and media (articles 14, 15, 16)

The Government of Canada will take the following actions in consultation and cooperation with First Nations:

  1. Support First Nations control of First Nation education and self-determined education approaches at many levels, including the conclusion of Regional Education Agreements, as sustainable models, (underpinned by funding comparable to provincial education systems) to close the education gap, leading to better outcomes. Ensuring robust and responsive education systems paves the way for access to higher education opportunities, all of which foster more prosperous communities. (Indigenous Services Canada)