AFN Meeting with Douglas Eyford, Ministerial Special Representative on Comprehensive Land Claims Policy Reform
On July 28, 2014, Douglas Eyford was appointed by Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada (AANDC) Bernard Valcourt as his Special Representative to “lead engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders to renew and reform the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy.” In late summer 2014, AANDC posted a document called “Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy” on its website, which included a new “Interim Policy” on comprehensive claims that would provide the starting point for Douglas Eyford’s engagement, along with a web portal for making comments about the Interim Policy.
On November 4, 2014, AFN interim National Chief Ghislain Picard and AFN Senior staff had the occasion to meet with Mr. Eyford to discuss his recent appointment, the process he is leading, and the Interim Policy that has been issued. An open and respectful discussion took place with Mr. Eyford who reiterated his role of Ministerial Special Representative as one for engagement and not consultation. He indicated that the Interim Policy was a starting point for his engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders, rather than a policy that he was tasked to promote.
Highlights from the meeting with Mr. Eyford include:
- He is expecting to meet with about 200 different groups and individuals during his engagement in this capacity.
- There was an interest on his part in learning more about the Senior Oversight Committee (SOC) process, which also focused on comprehensive claims policy reform, initiated by the Prime Minister in January 2013 but with no follow-up from Canada since late in 2013.
- Eyford indicated that his report would include a history focused on the concept of Aboriginal title and its development through to the present day.
- He has heard many complaints from groups about “extinguishment” as an implicit part of the federal comprehensive claims policy, as well as loan funding (among other issues).
- Noting that the Interim Policy does not reflect the recent Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision, his mandate does not exclude a focus on it and it will be reflected as an aspect of his report.
- His report will be tabled early 2015 rather than December 15, 2014, as originally announced. It will be made public.
First Nations and the AFN have received no funding to support their engagement in this process with Mr. Eyford. This in and of itself creates significant limitations for groups wishing to engage with him. The AFN secretariat is working to develop a written submission in partnership with an ad hoc coalition of social justice organizations.
You can download a copy of “Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy” at: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1408631807053/1408631881247
Written submissions can be made to Douglas Eyford until November 30, 2014 at: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1405693409911/1405693617207
Working Group on Natural Resources Development
The Working Group on Natural Resources Development (Working Group) project has continued its work in line with the information reported to the leadership at the AFN Annual General Assembly and consistent with AFN resolution 80/2011.
At the end of September 2014, the Working Group agreed to host two working sessions with up to 25 participants as a starting point. The working sessions were held November 6-7 and November 13-14, 2014 and discussions focused around the topics of governance, prosperity, sustainable development, financial considerations, balancing approaches that are respectful to the environment, and more.
AFN Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, in addition to being a member of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED), participates as a co-chair for the Working Group alongside CCED colleague Mr. Richard Nerysoo, and federally appointed members Mr. Douglas Turnbull, as co-chair, and Mr. Patrick McGuinness.
The Working Group on Natural Resources Development is an independent volunteer body. They will report on their work to date at the end of November 2014 and will issue a report during the upcoming 2014 Special Assembly this December in Winnipeg, MB. Their findings are not considered a final word on these subjects but are intended to provide ideas that support the beginning of this national dialogue.
You can get all the information at: www.naturalresourcedev.com