Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould tells AFN to prepare for future beyond the Indian Act - APTN NewsAPTN News

Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould tells AFN to prepare for future beyond the Indian Act


(Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould meets with media at the AFN gathering in Regina. Photo: Larissa Burnouf/APTN)

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Tuesday said First Nations need to prepare for a future that has been set into motion by the Justin Trudeau government that will permanently alter their relationship with Canada.

Speaking to Assembly of First Nations-member chiefs in Regina, Wilson-Raybould said First Nations need to prepare for a future where Indian Act bands are done away with, opening the door to more traditional governance where communities are grouped by nations.

“Who are the rights-holding people being recognize, and what will you establish as your political and governing institutions? If not the colonial imposed institutions for administration of Indians living on reserves under the Indian Act, then what?” said Wilson-Raybould, who spoke during the AFN’s annual general assembly. “In considering our government’s commitment to a distinctions based approach to recognition, how will your nation and Indigenous government be organized? What is your territory? Is it shared with another nation and to what extent?”

Wilson-Raybould said she is already beginning to alter Ottawa’s internal machinery which was the main aim of the 10 principles unveiled Friday that will now govern Canada’s side of its relationship with Indigenous peoples.

“They are explicit in rejecting certain long-standing federal positions—such as the focus on extinguishment, surrender or denial of rights,” said Wilson-Raybould. “They are a start, as the government needed to tell itself, internally, how to act. In this sense, the principles, chiefs, are not really directed at you, but rather for federal officials and the bureaucracy, to begin shifting decades-old patterns of internal behaviour to a new reality. They will evolve over time as need be.”


With Ottawa currently reviewing all its laws and policies to ensure they comply with Section 35 of the Constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and work underway to create a new legislative framework to implement the international document, Wilson-Raybould told chiefs the time was now to seize the moment.

“Some of you may not believe this is really happening. To those of you who think this way, I can tell you, under the leadership of our prime minister and from my seat, it is happening,” said Wilson-Raybould. “I also know that the potential of this moment will only be realized if you help advance it, fight for it, and are deeply involved in driving the change.”

Wilson-Raybould said First Nations don’t need to reject Canada, but can thrive within it.

“I am aware there are some who say they do not recognize Canada as a state, so how can our rights be recognized by it? As a proud Kwakwaka’wakw woman and also a proud Canadian, to these people I say this, while I understand your position, please do not underestimate the power of section 35 and UNDRIP,” said Wilson-Raybould. “There are many ways to be Canadian respecting different legal traditions. I believe it is within a strong and caring Canada that we as Indigenous peoples can build a future where our traditions, cultures, identities and ways of life thrive. And that the state has a role to play in supporting this objective, including through changing laws and policies and working in partnership based on recognition.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett echoed Wilson-Raybould’s message about the coming change.

“How many of you will still be under the Indian Act in 10 years?” said Bennett.

Bennett said Ottawa wants to help build Indigenous institutions, not create more programs.

“We want to partner with you on building on the strengths and assets you have in your communities,” said Bennett, in a speech to the AFN. “You have the power to determine the future of your communities.”


While the rhetoric has been soaring from the Trudeau Liberals on improving the relationship with Indigenous peoples, change has been slow in coming on the ground.

In an attempt to show that things are moving at the band level, Bennett and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde announced Tuesday the Indigenous Affairs department will no longer claw back Infrastructure funds at the end of the fiscal year beginning in 2018. This change will relieve some pressure off bands who are often rushed to push construction projects to avoid losing allotted funds. Bennett said this will eventually apply to all dollars provided to bands through contribution agreements—which govern the funding coming from Ottawa for each fiscal year.

The department is also committed to working with the AFN to change the own-source revenue requirement for operations and maintenance, which often hobbles a band’s ability to fund emergency response and water treatment.

Bellegarde also said that he expects the Trudeau government to pass legislation protecting and promoting Indigenous languages before the next federal election. He said the legislation will give Indigenous languages special status and create statutory funding to revitalize and preserve the about 58 distinct Indigenous languages that exist within the boundaries of Canada.

“In some ways, we are on the right path,” said Bellegarde, in his opening address to chiefs.

Bellegarde said examples of this “right path” include an agreement he signed with Trudeau last month that guarantees the leadership of the AFN will have permanent access to the federal levels of power along with the ongoing review of federal laws and policies.

“These meetings will be used to identify key issues and find solutions so we can break through the barriers facing our people,” he said. “Canada’s laws, written over decades to deny us those rights, must be rewritten….Our people will write the laws that govern our own nations and we must help Canada to revise those laws, policies and procedures that conflict with (UNDRIP).”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna spoke to the AFN assembly along with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.


Tags: , , , ,

25 Responses to “Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould tells AFN to prepare for future beyond the Indian Act”

  1. ccardinal.cmw@gmail.com'
    Clifford Cardinal, MPH July 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm #

    I believe the Comments are censored so that INAC will not be offended with Gov’t desires to get rid of Indian Act, what difference will it make when our Oppressors will still be dictating terms to our Leaders. In 1969, we were still United, we had Spiritual Leaders offering advice to Community Leaders, today we have 70% of our Leaders that do not rely on Elderly Advice so it is indeed sad we forge ahead uncertain of our future as the Indigenous Peoples in our Own Lands. A Phd, a Masters Degree does not matter in an Isolated Indigenous Community where the People have no voice despite the fact, they’ve sacrificed 10- 15 years of their Life for the Education and the degrees they may have. No choice but to work in an Urban Centre to support their Families.

  2. Nickottawa@hotmail.com'
    Nick ottawa July 29, 2017 at 2:03 am #

    Justin Trudeau would have spent his entire life hearing his father repeat that he had it all figured out with the 69 white paper. This sounds similar but with some modern day buzzwords. A huge governmental hand washing of legal obligations.

  3. guinness_trail@yahoo.com'
    Bagu July 28, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

    Will someone hold Wilson-Raybould to account for her Liberal Government’s position on UNDRIP. Last year, at the AFN Assembly, she said UNDRIP was unworkable in Canadian Law. This year, at the AFN Assembly, she states, “do not underestimate the power of section 35 and UNDRIP.” How can UNDRIP have any power when it is unworkable in Canada Law. Then she goes on to assert, “There are many ways to be Canadian respecting different legal traditions…the state has a role to play in supporting this objective, including through changing laws and policies and working in partnership based on recognition.” Where did this proud Kwakwaka’wakw woman get her law degree, Trump University? She is playing the Chiefs for fools and pandering to the lowest common denominator of political expediency: just tell them what they want to hear, buy us (the Liberal Party) some time. Meanwhie, the Liberal Government’s bureaucracy is stalling on the ground: child care and education are criminally underfunded; Wilson -Raybould’s justice department fights against Aboriginal Title and Rights in the Courts; INAC drags its feet with nearly every regimented program. Wilson-Raybould is not with the Indians–she has pledged allegiance to the Crown, first as a lawyer, second as a Canadian MP.

  4. dhatmanju@hotmail.com'
    Karen July 27, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

    UNDRIP section 35 wasn’t adopted by Canada… they are trying to use “rules and regulations” contrary to section 35… so it will be an interesting day to see if they adopt it wholly… or a modified version of it… that’s the difference. Also, the government has no right to establish the idea of “nations” when they already are by the indigenous peoples within their traditional governance. Just sayin’

  5. nick.ottawa@kza.qc.ca'
    Nick Ottawa July 26, 2017 at 8:14 pm #

    The son of the ’69 whitepaper is basically bringing it back to the table with a few modern buzzwords. Daddy’s ideas were entrenched good in him I see. It appears Trudeau’s idea is to just make every Nation a self government in one big fast sweep.
    I don’t trust it.

  6. Leonardfiddler@gmail.com'
    Fiddler July 26, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    Now the bands have to show leadership , ethics , willing to work as a people not individual bands

  7. riverslb@shaw.ca'
    Leoni Rivers July 26, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    It’s great to have change, but it’s more important to implement a well thought out plan of action. Resources, social needs, ample consultations, communications and strong leadership among all First Nations will play a huge part in the interpretation and success of such changes.

  8. jonmac1@shaw.ca'
    john July 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    I sincerely hope that with an increase in authority, that an increase in responsibility goes with it.
    For years the First Nation people have blamed a white government for keeping them in poverty, but prosperity begins with sharing—something certain individual First Nation leaders are not good at.

    Gary Joseph July 26, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    One of the biggest attacks on the Indigenous way of life was to silence the Indigenous ceremonial/spiritual elements of our societies and throughout these negotiations processes, this consultation in political meetings is still missing……Sun Dance/Potlatch Chiefs…..

    • ccardinal.cmw@gmail.com'
      Clifford Cardinal, MPH July 29, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

      I agree with the removal of the Indian Act, but greater unforeseen Dictates developed by years of corrupt FN Tribal Governance has morphed Leaders into Bullies and the Poor into Voiceless Voters. Bus-loads of Street Voters are taken to our Rez at Voting Days to put their check marks and hurriedly shuttled b-back before people see them. To talk against is seen as an Attack to the Band Admin Offices which results in creating- barricades for the High Ranking Officials we call Chiefs, not Leaders if they bully everyone in the Rez. Gone are the Leaders that we relied on for help when we needed a shoulder to cry on, or to pay off todays Funeral Costs, that, which are 5 figures minimum. New Laws do not provide us with a sense of security in our own Nations or our Country, as we can only believe what was said in Regina, only the Elite got to listen to Carolyn and the Justice Minister scare us back into 1969, a Son doing what His Dad couldn’t do, extinguish Treaty. Who do we suppose will get into Parliament to secure our “God Inherent Place in Turtle Island”, which was an Inconvenient Truth to both Gov’t, N Band Chiefs who make Million a Year in Salary to Rep. 1500 Cree.

  10. sjdolan@xplornet.com'
    Shirley Dolan July 26, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Hummm! It doesn’t sound like an abandonment of the Indian Act but rather an entrenchment of it. First Nations will never be the masters of their own destiny until the Indian Act is gone and they have true property rights. It is from property rights that we all share in the wealth and prosperity of this great country. Property rights are a bundle of rights which include human rights.

    • Milamorris2003@yahoo.ca'
      Mils July 27, 2017 at 6:22 am #

      Hello l read what was posted it’s odd yes we are first nations but we don’t even recognize ourselves as that…all these leaders and all these promises have not made our lands or rights to our own people any better (when l typed leaders l mean our own first nation leaders) we are in 2017 it’s time for our people to quit being oppressed by our leaders they haven’t had our interest at heart. For goodness sakes we the people can’t even vote who leads us it’s done by a board of genderized individuals….we cant even vote in our regional and nan chiefs l personally do not call that democratic ..its 2017 l don’t think we need Chief and Council anymore because basically the rich get richer and poor stay poor……we haven’t moved ahead because our own first nation leaders have opressed our growrh as a nation

  11. darlenejohn@gmail.com'
    Darlene Johnson July 26, 2017 at 6:32 am #

    That change needs to include guaranteed seats in the house. As well we (First Nations) should be guaranteed that our monies are not used to subsidize Canada any longer

  12. SHickory347@gmail.com'
    Steven July 26, 2017 at 2:49 am #

    Those who believe this is some kind of validation of Indigenous sovereignty, or progress in dismantling the archaic and colonial Indian Act by some new type of benevolent government are sadly mistaken. The Indian Act was always seen as a temporary measure that would be repealed once Indigenous peoples were seen as adequately assimilated, at which time there would no longer be a need for the Indian Act. The goal of Canada has always been, and continues to be, assimilating indigenous peoples. The modern day “treaty process” in BC and other similar negotiations across the country revolving around self-government have the same goal as the removal of the Indian Act (which these negotiations arrive at): the political and legal assimilation of Indigenous peoples.
    In 1969 the federal government, under PM Pierre Elliott Trudeau, sought to remove the Indian Act and dismantle the Department of Indian Affairs (the 1969 White Paper). This proposal was met with a large mobilization by both band councils and grassroots movements because it was seen as a threat to Indigenous peoples through the legal and political assimilation it involved and the removal of the last remaining land base upon which Indigenous peoples now live: the reservations.
    Today, an Aboriginal business elite, firmly entrenched in the Indian Act system and INAC bureaucracy, are eager to pursue their business interests unhindered by the Indian Act, and are therefore more than willing to collaborate with the government.

    • Rjeangladue@gmail.com'
      Rjean July 26, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

      I agree 100 percent!

    • GCR5@mts.net'
      G. C. Roy July 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

      What is your alternative? Also, it seems to me that the average indigenous person is quite comfortable with assimilation: wearing non-traditional clothing, employing non-traditional business practices (usually a capitalistic model), living in non-traditional housing, pursuing non-traditional employment (the world has moved away from anything to do with skins and the market for niche meats – elk, moose, etc – is very small and shrinking) although fishing still works (to sky scrapper work) and moving to non-traditional enterprises (casinos, gas stations, resorts, golf courses, office buildings. How many Scots, Italians, Spanish, Germans, etc after a generation or two retain their languages?

    • derrickchief1@gmail.com'
      derrick July 30, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      Yes thats what i thought when i read somewhere about this and thought this could be the key to the residential school era and children and family services.pretty hard to separate the native people now in canada.weve waken up and stand stronger than ever.in the end when things get poor in canada and ppl start fighting over whats left of the resources, and who are going to want our help..potatoes,corn etc..(i dont think so) sorry i dont have much to offer you because its all gone,all good things come to an end one day.when the hiways go back to wagon trails and these mass areas of land polluted with all their ambitious ideas of a way to live.the cities are disasters waiting to happen.our ppl were here first and will be here in the end not even an ice age can get rid of us no matter what change is coming by ppl who think its good for us all,but things are never going to be the way they plan on it being.even the law makers need to know their way isnt always the way or what we want.they need to know that we are going to change what they did because we dont like their ideas.a true chief is the only one who will make the right decisions for his or her pll thank you creator d chief

  13. cangfc@shaw.ca'
    glen July 26, 2017 at 1:19 am #

    Wow!!! Bellegarde — “bring Canada to its knees”, want self governing – BUT —— with taxpayers money!! Enough said that is all!! hmmmm

    • Rafireysam@hotmail.com'
      Rand July 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

      Taxpayers money is an unexceptable way to build any Govt including PC liberal NDP or Greens yet have soooo many times relied on just that now spouses you think taxes of all infrastructure on indigenous territories over many years of past infringments never seen by any indigenous govt system or people..u awake yet!!!

    • Tjshield@lakeheadu.ca'
      Tracy Shields July 26, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

      It isn’t taxpayers money. It never was although that is the Canafian belief. Read “Accouning for Genocide” to follow the money.

  14. mishrikyjan@gmail.com'
    jan mishriky July 25, 2017 at 11:06 pm #

    I could feel big change coming. It feels good. Today feels like a very good day.

  15. Chief@buffalopoint.mb.ca'
    John thunder July 25, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

    Buffalo Point First Nation has a 5 year court case that is still active over our property taxes. Sorry but it make their words sound very hollow!

    • Forcerecon38@hotmail.com'
      Guy July 26, 2017 at 6:34 am #

      The New GOC Could Start Reconnsilliation To First Nations
      By Revenue Canada Being Held Accountable To The Act !!!
      For Knowingly Attacking And Abusing it’s Authority in Taxation
      Of First Nations !!!

      • Rjeangladue@gmail.com'
        Rjeangladue July 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

        I agree 100 percent!

    • memlgp@aol.com'
      Michael Melanson July 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

      Will the members of Buffalo Point be able to choose whether or not to continue hereditary rule in a post-Indian Act Canada?