October 5, 2017
On October 3, a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premiers of all of the provinces and territories, with the exception of Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, who was represented by Don Morgan, the Deputy Premier.
The AFN delegation included Regional Chief Ghislain Picard (Quebec), Regional Chief Isadore Day (Ontario), Regional Chief Craig Mackinaw (Alberta) and Chief Susan Miller of Katzie First Nation (British Columbia).
Below is a list of issues I raised at the pre-meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
- Forgiving B.C. Treaty loans and advances as part of reconciliation;
- The need for the assumed sovereignty of the Crown to acknowledge, make space for, and respect First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction;
- The need for the participation of all relevant Ministers in our next meeting under the Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities, set for November 20;
- The need to discuss an approach to a legislative framework to support the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that builds on Bill C-262;
- Maintaining the priority for legislation to revitalize and rejuvenate our First Nations languages;
- Establishing a process with First Nations for a joint review of federal laws, policies and operational practices;
- Reminder of the need for the full $180 million to fix Child Welfare on reserve;
- Access to capital is a major issue for First Nations – raised the potential for federal loan guarantees, government-backed bonds.
Next, we joined the Prime Minister and the Premiers for approximately 90 minutes. During that time I spoke to them about:
- The need to ensure provinces are using transfers from the federal government for First Nations services efficiently;
- First Nations being an underutilized workforce and Canada has a labour shortage; need to invest in human capital;
- Provinces supporting an Indigenous Peoples Chapter in NAFTA;
- Premiers, establishing roundtables for dialogue with First Nations about resource revenue sharing and revenue sharing, and respecting First Nations jurisdiction on taxation regimes;
- Requesting a policy change – where Provinces are issuing permits or licences for major projects, insist that a company have a plan or strategy for procurement, employment of First Nations and revenue benefits sharing;
- Access to capital – for example – equity ownership, government backing for bonds to back investments in First Nations ventures; government guaranteed loans;
- Participation in the transition to a clean energy economy, balancing the environment and the economy – micro grids work;
- Cannabis being an emerging element of the economy; First Nations were shut out of the supply management system for dairy and eggs; therefore, a percentage of licenses should be allocated to First Nation entrepreneurs;
- Support for urban reserves as zones for economic development;
- Establishing bilateral forums with Chiefs and leaders in the provinces and territories – where there isn’t one;
- Supporting First Nations at federal-provincial tables;
- The need for dialogue to address First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction next to the assumed sovereignty of the Crown;
- The need to root out the Doctrine of Discovery and the concept of Terra Nullius as racist, illegal doctrines;
- Calling for a First Ministers Meeting in 2018 on First Nations priority issues, including, the need for a National Action Plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the Crown’s consultation and consent obligations; land and resource issues and working together to address fiscal needs respecting child welfare, education, health and labour market based on need.
Chiefs, while no announcements were expected as part of this meeting, the message to the Premiers and the Prime Minister was clear: We need to make more progress faster.
The Prime Minister did commit to ongoing dialogue and was formally invited to the Special Chiefs Assembly to be held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa, December 5-7, 2017.
If you have any questions about the First Ministers Meeting on the Economy or the messages delivered, please contact me directly.