Canada releases 10 “principles” on government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples - APTN NewsAPTN News

Canada releases 10 “principles” on government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples



APTN National News

The Government of Canada has released ten principles it says will help in achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a “renewed, nation to nation, government to government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”

The principles were posted on the department of Justice website Friday.

“Section 35 contains a full box of rights, and holds the promise that Indigenous nations will become partners in Confederation on the basis of a fair and just reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.”

The website post also seems to affirm Canada’s commitment to adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a stand many thought Canada was backing away from after Justice Minister’s speech to the Assembly of First Nations in July 2016.

“Simplistic approaches such as adopting the United Nations declaration as being Canadian law are unworkable and, respectfully, a political distraction to undertaking the hard work actually required to implement it back home in communities,” said Wilson-Raybould in the speech.

In the statement Friday that was released along with the list, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Chair of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies, said the principles will guide the government in all its work and laws.

“The Principles will guide the review of laws, policies and operational practices and form a foundation for transforming how the federal government partners with and supports Indigenous peoples and governments.”

The list of principles suggest the government is working towards implementing UNDRIP through a review of its current laws.

Here are the ten principles:

1. The Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the recognition and implementation of their right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government.

This opening Principle affirms the priority of recognition in renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships. As set out by the courts, an Indigenous nation or rights-holding group is a group of Indigenous people sharing critical features such as language, customs, traditions, and historical experience at key moments in time like first contact, assertion of Crown sovereignty, or effective control. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples estimated that there are between 60 and 80 historical nations in Canada. The Government of Canada’s recognition of the ongoing presence and inherent rights of Indigenous peoples as a defining feature of Canada is grounded in the promise of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, in addition to reflecting articles 3 and 4 of the UN Declaration.

The promise mandates the reconciliation of the prior existence of Indigenous peoples and the assertion of Crown sovereignty, as well as the fulfilment of historic treaty relationships. This principle reflects the UN Declaration’s call to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. This includes the rights that derive from their political, economic, and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories, laws, and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources. Canada’s constitutional and legal order recognizes the reality that Indigenous peoples’ ancestors owned and governed the lands which now constitute Canada prior to the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty. All of Canada’s relationships with Indigenous peoples are based on recognition of this fact and supported by the recognition of Indigenous title and rights, as well as the negotiation and implementation of pre-Confederation, historic, and modern treaties.

It is the mutual responsibility of all governments to shift their relationships and arrangements with Indigenous peoples so that they are based on recognition and respect for the right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government for Indigenous nations. For the federal government, this responsibility includes changes in the operating practices and processes of the federal government. For Indigenous peoples, this responsibility includes how they define and govern themselves as nations and governments and the parameters of their relationships with other orders of government.

2. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation is a fundamental purpose of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Reconciliation is an ongoing process through which Indigenous peoples and the Crown work cooperatively to establish and maintain a mutually respectful framework for living together, with a view to fostering strong, healthy, and sustainable Indigenous nations within a strong Canada. As we build a new future, reconciliation requires recognition of rights and that we all acknowledge the wrongs of the past, know our true history, and work together to implement Indigenous rights.

This transformative process involves reconciling the pre-existence of Indigenous peoples and their rights and the assertion of sovereignty of the Crown, including inherent rights, title, and jurisdiction. Reconciliation, based on recognition, will require hard work, changes in perspectives and actions, and compromise and good faith, by all.

Reconciliation frames the Crown’s actions in relation to Aboriginal and treaty rights and informs the Crown’s broader relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada’s approach to reconciliation is guided by the UN Declaration, the TRCs Calls to Action, constitutional values, and collaboration with Indigenous peoples as well as provincial and territorial governments.

3. The Government of Canada recognizes that the honour of the Crown guides the conduct of the Crown in all of its dealings with Indigenous peoples.

The Government of Canada recognizes that it must uphold the honour of the Crown, which requires the federal government and its departments, agencies, and officials to act with honour, integrity, good faith, and fairness in all of its dealings with Indigenous peoples. The honour of the Crown gives rise to different legal duties in different circumstances, including fiduciary obligations and diligence. The overarching aim is to ensure that Indigenous peoples are treated with respect and as full partners in Confederation.

4. The Government of Canada recognizes that Indigenous self-government is part of Canada’s evolving system of cooperative federalism and distinct orders of government.

This Principle affirms the inherent right of self-government as an existing Aboriginal right within section 35. Recognition of the inherent jurisdiction and legal orders of Indigenous nations is therefore the starting point of discussions aimed at interactions between federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous jurisdictions and laws.

As informed by the UN Declaration, Indigenous peoples have a unique connection to and constitutionally protected interest in their lands, including decision-making, governance, jurisdiction, legal traditions, and fiscal relations associated with those lands.

Nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships, including treaty relationships, therefore include: (a) developing mechanisms and designing processes which recognize that Indigenous peoples are foundational to Canada’s constitutional framework; (b) involving Indigenous peoples in the effective decision-making and governance of our shared home; (c) putting in place effective mechanisms to support the transition away from colonial systems of administration and governance, including, where it currently applies, governance and administration under the Indian Act; and (d) ensuring, based on recognition of rights, the space for the operation of Indigenous jurisdictions and laws.

5. The Government of Canada recognizes that treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements between Indigenous peoples and the Crown have been and are intended to be acts of reconciliation based on mutual recognition and respect.

This Principle recognizes that Indigenous peoples have diverse interests and aspirations and that reconciliation can be achieved in different ways with different nations, groups, and communities.

This principle honours historic treaties as frameworks for living together, including the modern expression of these relationships. In accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, many Indigenous nations and the Crown historically relied on treaties for mutual recognition and respect to frame their relationships. Across much of Canada, the treaty relationship between the Indigenous nations and Crown is a foundation for ongoing cooperation and partnership with Indigenous peoples.

The Government of Canada recognizes the role that treaty-making has played in building Canada and the contemporary importance of treaties, both historic and those negotiated after 1973, as foundations for ongoing efforts at reconciliation. The spirit and intent of both Indigenous and Crown parties to treaties, as reflected in oral and written histories, must inform constructive partnerships, based on the recognition of rights, that support full and timely treaty implementation.

In accordance with section 35, all Indigenous peoples in Canada should have the choice and opportunity to enter into treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements with the Crown as acts of reconciliation that form the foundation for ongoing relations. The Government of Canada prefers no one mechanism of reconciliation to another. It is prepared to enter into innovative and flexible arrangements with Indigenous peoples that will ensure that the relationship accords with the aspirations, needs, and circumstances of the Indigenous-Crown relationship. The Government also acknowledges that the existence of Indigenous rights is not dependent on an agreement and, where agreements are formed, they should be based on the recognition and implementation of rights and not their extinguishment, modification, or surrender.

Accordingly, this Principle recognizes and affirms the importance that Indigenous peoples determine and develop their own priorities and strategies for organization and advancement. The Government of Canada recognizes Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, including the right to freely pursue their economic, political, social, and cultural development.

6. The Government of Canada recognizes that meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior, and informed consent when Canada proposes to take actions which impact them and their rights, including their lands, territories and resources.

This Principle acknowledges the Government of Canada’s commitment to new nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships that builds on and goes beyond the legal duty to consult. In delivering on this commitment, the Government recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights through their own representative institutions and the need to consult and cooperate in good faith with the aim of securing their free, prior, and informed consent.

The Supreme Court of Canada has clarified that the standard to secure consent of Indigenous peoples is strongest in the case of Aboriginal title lands. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that Aboriginal title gives the holder the right to use, control, and manage the land and the right to the economic benefits of the land and its resources. The Indigenous nation, as proper title holder, decides how to use and manage its lands for both traditional activities and modern purposes, subject to the limit that the land cannot be developed in a way that would deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.

The importance of free, prior, and informed consent, as identified in the UN Declaration, extends beyond title lands. To this end, the Government of Canada will look for opportunities to build processes and approaches aimed at securing consent, as well as creative and innovative mechanisms that will help build deeper collaboration, consensus, and new ways of working together. It will ensure that Indigenous peoples and their governments have a role in public decision-making as part of Canada’s constitutional framework and ensure that Indigenous rights, interests, and aspirations are recognized in decision-making.

7. The Government of Canada recognizes that respecting and implementing rights is essential and that any infringement of section 35 rights must by law meet a high threshold of justification which includes Indigenous perspectives and satisfies the Crown’s fiduciary obligations.

This Principle reaffirms the central importance of working in partnership to recognize and implement rights and, as such, that any infringement of Aboriginal or treaty rights requires justification in accordance with the highest standards established by the Canadian courts and must be attained in a manner consistent with the honour of the Crown and the objective of reconciliation.

This requirement flows from Canada’s constitutional arrangements. Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples is therefore mandated whenever the Government may seek to infringe a section 35 right.

8. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation and self-government require a renewed fiscal relationship, developed in collaboration with Indigenous nations, that promotes a mutually supportive climate for economic partnership and resource development.

The Government of Canada recognizes that the rights, interests, perspectives, and governance role of Indigenous peoples are central to securing a new fiscal relationship. It also recognizes the importance of strong Indigenous governments in achieving political, social, economic, and cultural development and improved quality of life.

This Principle recognizes that a renewed economic and fiscal relationship must ensure that Indigenous nations have the fiscal capacity, as well as access to land and resources, in order to govern effectively and to provide programs and services to those for whom they are responsible.

The renewed fiscal relationship will also enable Indigenous peoples to have fair and ongoing access to their lands, territories, and resources to support their traditional economies and to share in the wealth generated from those lands and resources as part of the broader Canadian economy.

A fairer fiscal relationship with Indigenous nations can be achieved through a number of mechanisms such as new tax arrangements, new approaches to calculating fiscal transfers, and the negotiation of resource revenue sharing agreements.

9. The Government of Canada recognizes that reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships.

This Principle recognizes that reconciliation processes, including processes for negotiation and implementation of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, will need to be innovative and flexible and build over time in the context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships. These relationships are to be guided by the recognition and implementation of rights.

Treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements should be capable of evolution over time. Moreover, they should provide predictability for the future as to how provisions may be changed or implemented and in what circumstances. Canada is open to flexibility, innovation, and diversity in the nature, form, and content of agreements and arrangements.

The Government of Canada also recognizes that it has an active role and responsibility in ensuring the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples as well as in protecting Aboriginal and treaty rights.

The Government of Canada will continue to collaborate with Indigenous peoples on changes to federal laws, regulations, and policies to realize the unfulfilled constitutional promise of s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

10. The Government of Canada recognizes that a distinctions-based approach is needed to ensure that the unique rights, interests and circumstances of the First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit are acknowledged, affirmed, and implemented.

The Government of Canada recognizes First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit as the Indigenous peoples of Canada, consisting of distinct, rights-bearing communities with their own histories, including with the Crown. The work of forming renewed relationships based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership must reflect the unique interests, priorities and circumstances of each People.

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19 Responses to “Canada releases 10 “principles” on government’s relationship with Indigenous peoples”

  1. lynngehl@gmail.com'
    Lynn Gehl July 15, 2017 at 3:20 am #

    Six practices that are a clear indication that Canada is not interesting in reconciliation or a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Nations:
    1. Cultural Genocide of Sacred Places: Little is more important than a people’s beliefs and assumptions that they govern through. The further desecration of Chaudière Falls and the adjacent Islands best known as Akikodjiwan, is cultural genocide. This is the place where Creator placed the First Sacred Pipe, the ultimate symbol and ritual of reconciliation. This is just moments from Canada’s Parliament Buildings best known as Algonquin territory.
    2. Canada’s Termination of their Treaty Responsibilities through the Land Claims and Self-Government Process: Indigenous Nations will never achieve self-government without land, water, and resource rights. Despite several court victories Canada continues to establish policies that forces Indigenous Nation to relinquish their land and resource rights. The Algonquin in Ontario have been offered only 1.3% of their territory in their land claim and self-government package.
    3. Canada Forces First Nations to Borrow Funding Dollars from the State Treasury when Negotiating Land Claim and Self-Government Packages: As these processes unfold over 30 years Canada holds the large debts incurred over First Nations and forces them to pay it back, yet Canada has taken all the wealth from our lands and waterways for centuries. While Canada spent $500 million to celebrate one day, Canada day 150, the Algonquin have been offered only $300 million in their land claim and self-government package.
    4. Canada’s Termination of their Treaty Responsibilities through Sex Discrimination in the Indian Act: Despite several court victories Canada continues to engage in sex discrimination as one of their ways of eliminating registered status Indians and as a result their treaty responsibilities. Canada refuses to accept “6(1)a All the Way” which the Senate put forward and that will eliminate all the sex discrimination in the Indian Act.
    5. Canada Continues to Rely on the Reserve System of Dependant First Nations when Making Meaningless Announcements and Change: Dependant First Nations are forced to be complicit in these patronizing ceremonies because all funding dollars are dependent on the oppressive and abusive relationship they have with Canada.
    6. Canada Continues to Rely on National Indigenous Organizations when Making Meaningless Announcements and Change: Dependant organizations are forced to be complicit in these patronizing ceremonies because all funding dollars are dependent on the oppressive and abusive relationship they have with Canada.

    • Rjeangladue@gmail.com'
      Rjean Gladue July 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

      You are right I agree! Canada has original First Nations land claims that are over 100 years or more old. The federal government has not made it easy for any land claim settlements. Enough you either start complying or you can take your papers to your original homelands! See how they pan out over there!

  2. garybenson9@outlook.com'
    Gary Benson July 15, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    The word Reconciliation is a word to me is back-taxes on the resources both Federal and Provincial governments taken without consent or with proper consultation. Our forests were clearcut to the point where there are no local jobs. It is clear that our rights have been violated as our fisheries are on the brink of extinction. As in our territories the wildlife has been decimated to the point of infringing on our rights to sustain our lives on traditional territories

  3. Tom.mc@mymts.net'
    Tom McMahon July 15, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    This is positive. It would be easy to parse every word looking for danger and deception.

    The principles do not say that treaties are law, let alone constitutional law.

    The principles says that indigenous rights are strongest in relation to Aboriginal title lands, which puts into doubt the idea of free, prior, informed consent for traditional lands that are not clearly “title” lands.

    The principles say nothing about the doctrine of discovery.

    The principles speak of the honour of the Crown but I don’t believe that for one moment. The Government of Canada refuses to comply with the the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders on child welfare and refuses to eliminate all sex discrimination from the Indian Act.

    We can assume that Canada will never share its legal opinions about indigenous peoples regardless of any honour.

    We can assume that Canada’s default position in all matters of indigenous rights will be to argue in court that the idea and requirements of “fiduciary duty” is to be interpreted as narrowly as possible.

    It is nearly impossible to imagine a legal relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples that is not adversarial in nature.

    We continue to wait for an indigenous Supreme Court of Canada justice and an indigenous Governor General.

    We continue to wait for any legislative action to implement the TRC’s Calls to Action.

    And yet, the statement of principles is positive and more than what existed before. Let us hope.

  4. donnahalliday_1@hotmail.com'
    Donna Halliday July 15, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    Sounds good.
    Who wrote it and who backs it? Will it really become policy.? Many good words in the past were only to mollify while termination policies carried on abreast. Trudeau would have to respect first nation pipeline non consent before I’d believe this.

  5. david.danos@gmail.com'
    David July 16, 2017 at 1:44 am #

    Really, you could not have linked the website?? It was really too much to ask??

    http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/principles-principes.html

  6. leekovalskyj@gmail.com'
    Lee Kovalskyj July 16, 2017 at 3:02 am #

    This is a very good start. The Canadian Government has accomplished what they seem to have set out to do: taken the multi-faceted topic of ‘Reconciliation’, specifically identified a number of its key components (i.e., from recognizing Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-government, to reinterpreting Canada’s treaty obligations, to reviewing all government acts, regulations, policies & procedures which affect Indigenous peoples’, to incorporating UNDRIP in the process, to more explicitly recognizing ‘aboriginal title’, and arising from that, rights to fairer shares of resource revenues), and stipulated that each such component be addressed within one or another of the 10 clearly articulated “principles,” which will hereafter guide government in its relationship with Indigenous peoples. These “10 Principles” show we Indigenous peoples the extent to which the present federal government is willing to remake this country into one which better serves our present needs, and those of our future generations. I suggest we need now get to work ourselves. And that such work would be best overseen from the top down, by the AFN for instance, and our Tribal Councils (such as NAN, MKO, etc.). In other words, any Indigenous people out there with good ideas, I suggest you send those ideas to those organizations – since they are best suited to gauging a consensus of opinion, and formulating a collective response. Also, I myself can be contacted at leekovalskyj@gmail.com.

  7. leekovalskyj@gmail.com'
    Lee Kovalskyj July 16, 2017 at 3:24 am #

    This is a very good start. (As an urban Mohawk, with a foot in both worlds, I believe my opinion might be well worth sharing.) The Canadian Government has accomplished what they seem to have set out to do: taken the multi-faceted topic of ‘Reconciliation’, specifically identified a number of its key components (i.e., from recognizing Indigenous peoples’ rights to self-government, to reinterpreting Canada’s treaty obligations, to reviewing all government acts, regulations, policies & procedures which affect Indigenous peoples’, to incorporating UNDRIP in the process, to more explicitly recognizing ‘aboriginal title’, and arising from that, rights to fairer shares of resource revenues), and stipulated that each such component be addressed within one or another of the 10 clearly articulated “principles,” which will hereafter guide government in its relationship with Indigenous peoples. These “10 Principles” show we Indigenous peoples the extent to which the present federal government is willing to remake this country into one which better serves our present needs, and those of our future generations. I suggest we need now get to work ourselves. And that such work would be best overseen from the top down, by the AFN for instance, and our Tribal Councils (such as NAN, MKO, etc.). In other words, any Indigenous people out there with good ideas (whether individuals or organizations), I suggest you send your ideas to those organizations – since they would be best situated to gauging a consensus of opinion, and formulating a collective response.

  8. leekovalskyj@gmail.com'
    Lee Kovalskyj July 16, 2017 at 4:13 am #

    I sent you a revised comment about 60 minutes ago, and now suggest its last two sentences be replaced by the following:

    Any Indigenous peoples out there with good ideas (whether individuals or organizations), I suggest you hang onto those for now, at least until our Leadership (i.e., the AFN, or Tribal Councils such as NAN, MKO, and The Dene Nation, etc.) issue whatever their official responses might be. I suspect those organizations (since they are well situated to gauge a consensus of opinion, and formulate collective responses), would eventually want to hear all of our good ideas – but I suggest we all patiently hold onto our ideas until such organizations tell us they’re ready to hear from us, ok?

    • detlor.com@gmail.com'
      Aaron July 21, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

      how is afn appropriate in forming a nation to nation reconciliation where afn is not a nation?

  9. jcrowe7@gmail.com'
    jackie crowe July 16, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    magic language.. The indian act is supported through these “principles”
    “”The specific language of “the Crown”, “the King”, or “the Queen” in parliament used in the Commonwealth realms also alludes to the constitutional theory that ultimate authority or sovereignty rests with the monarch, but is delegated to elected and/or appointed officials.”””

  10. Lorainealook@hotmail.com'
    Loraine July 16, 2017 at 7:45 pm #

    Can anyone who has read this explain in simple layman terms what each principle literally means … so maybe I can try translating it to a couple elders ??

  11. claudette_latreille@hotmail.com'
    Claudette Latreille July 16, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    Right from the get go, they’re telling us lies! “Section 35 contains a full box of rights, and holds the promise that Indigenous nations will become partners in Confederation on the basis of a fair and just reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Crown.” PARTNERS in confederation?? I fail to see this in section 35 or in the principals of the Royal Proclamation!! The denial of rights to the eastern Metis is unacceptable and unlawful, they were a sovereign people before British colonization of Canada under the Vatican Concordat of 1610. All mixed blood peoples are Metis and they are present throughout Canada! It’s more like assimilation under the guise of a fair and just reconciliation with unilateral rules!! Has anything really changed??

  12. tom.mc@mymts.net'
    Tom McMahon July 16, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

    The TRC said this: “Canadian governments and their law departments have a responsibility to discontinue acting as though they are in an adversarial relationship with Aboriginal peoples and to start acting as true fiduciaries. Canada’s Department of Justice must be more transparent and accountable to Aboriginal peoples; this includes sharing their legal opinions on Aboriginal rights. As noted above, there is precedent for making this change. Not only has the United States Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor made public its legal opinions on a range of issues affecting Native Americans, but also these are now widely available online.

    Call to Action
    51) We call upon the Government of Canada, as an obligation of its fiduciary respon- sibility, to develop a policy of transparency by publishing legal opinions it devel- ops and upon which it acts or intends to act, in regard to the scope and extent of Aboriginal and Treaty rights.”

    Notice that Canada’s “principles” are completely silent about sharing its legal opinions on indigenous rights with the peoples to whom Canada owes a fiduciary duty. Notice that Canada’s “principles” are completely silent on whether Canada should be in an adversarial legal relationship within indigenous peoples.

  13. sgfobistersr22@hotmail.com'
    steve fobister sr July 17, 2017 at 6:29 am #

    The BNA act, the ontario and others industry stll remINS INTACT,,THEY OWN tTis own LAND and Indian monies. hoe=w could we own self determination when we are even a nation..We are jst doctrine of discovery. This more assimilation goals thembands livings on reserve only rereserve .03%in Canada and they have 73%, Thanks to doctrine of discovery. There want make first nation partnership in sense becoming part of corn corporations like those big business

  14. indianinthemachine@yahoo.ca'
    Indian in the machine July 18, 2017 at 12:52 am #

    As long as the chemtrails rain down on the land… as long as the waters continue to be poisoned, as long as the lies continue to be told… as long as they remain heartless to the next generations…. DO NOT BELIEVE THEM!

  15. lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca'
    Harold McNeill July 19, 2017 at 12:53 am #

    It is a positive document but it is what happens from this day forward is the only thing that counts.

  16. jrmenko@gmail.com'
    John Aramenko July 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm #

    Canada took away all the land so i have no home so where can i be from? Pretty words All lies.

  17. joannehusak123@gmail.com'
    joe July 21, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    Sounds to me like most of the posters here are only interested in bankrupting the Canadian Government. How does that bode well for any of us. Nope. I’m not seeing reconciliation.