Useful Tools For Staying Engaged

House of Commons – Here you can see the order of the day, watch the House of Commons live, see what committee meetings are coming up, and see what is being discussed and debated in the House.

Senate of Canada – Here you can see the order of the day, watch the Senate of Canada live, see what committee meetings are coming up, and see what is being discussed and debated in the Senate.

LEGISInfo – Here you can find information about bills that have been tabled in the House including the latest stage it has completed and the official language of the bill.

Advocacy in the 42rd Parliament (Dec 2015-Sept 2019)

A seat the table, voice in the House

AFN parliamentary advocacy takes a number of different forms. Here is a description of recently conducted parliamentary advocacy.


  • The AFN closely monitored 20 priority bills.


  • AFN representatives spoke to Senate committees at least 13 times since February 2016 on at least 7 different bills.


  • AFN representatives spoke to House of Commons committees at least 32 times since February 2016 on at least 9 different bills.


  • During the 42nd Parliament (December 2015-Present) 111 bills were passed.


  • Chiefs, Grand Chiefs, Regional Chiefs, the National Chief and other leaders, met with Members of Parliament and Senators to strategically advocate for First Nations interests.


  • In the past year, the AFN made presentations to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, and the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in addition to written submissions to both the House of Commons and the Senate.


  • Two notable pieces of legislation that the AFN co-developed and advocated for during the 42nd Parliament that achieved Royal Assent were Bill C-91: An Act respecting Indigenous languages and Bill C-92: An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

Bills Monitored

The Oil Tanker Moratorium Act prohibits oil tankers that are carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil or persistent oil as cargo from stopping or unloading crude oil or persistent oil at ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The Act prohibits loading if it would result in the oil tanker carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of those oils as cargo; prohibits vessels and persons from transporting crude oil or persistent oil between oil tankers and those ports or marine installations for the purpose of aiding the oil tanker to circumvent the prohibitions on oil tankers; and establishes an administration and enforcement regime that includes requirements to provide information and to follow directions, and provides for penalties up to a maximum of five million dollars.

This bill seeks to protect the BC coast that many First Nations call home. The transport of crude oil on this coastline brings with it a number of ecological and financial risks (tourism, fishing, etc.). There has been a voluntary “tanker exclusion zone” in place since 1985.

This bill was very contentious; the Senate vote was 49-46 in favour, and the Senate committee it was referred to recommended that the bill no longer proceed.

The Government of Alberta is planning to challenge the constitutionality of this bill in court.

The AFN was supportive of this legislation, including participation as witnesses in Senate committee once.

This legislation supports the concept that Indigenous knowledge is essential in the protection and preservation of the environment and in the monitoring and mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change. Fish and their ecosystems play an integral role in the livelihoods of First Nations in BC and across Canada, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge in future fishery projects and proposals is vital to preserving this unique relationship.

The AFN was supportive of this legislation, including participation as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees once and Senate committees once. Nine resolutions were passed over the last three years to mandate the AFN to engage on this piece of legislation. AFN hosted almost a dozen technical sessions over the past two years to facilitate information sharing and engagement with First Nations on the lead-up to Bill C-69.

This bill is aimed at completely changing the way major infrastructure projects are assessed and approved. This bill came in the wake of the Trans Mountain Pipeline decision from the Federal Court of Appeal, which ruled that Indigenous groups were not consulted properly and that Environmental concerns were not properly addressed. While the Bill is not perfect, it brings the Impact Assessment process into alignment with Canadian law. This includes: the inclusion of First Nations rights, considerations of Indigenous knowledge, and enhanced First Nations participation throughout the process. Bill C-69 is unique in that it makes explicit reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This bill was extremely contentious with 188 amendments being proposed by the Senate and 99 of them being adopted. One of these amendments was reducing the power of cabinet in the assessment of these major projects and deferring it to a third-party. The final Senate vote for the acceptance of the House of Commons note on the amendments (not all of them being accepted) was 57 to 37.

The Government of Alberta is planning to challenge the constitutionality of this bill in court.

The AFN was opposed to this legislation, including participation as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees once and Senate committees once.

This bill will infringe on hunting rights and autonomy rights for First Nations through the prevention of access (moving from a five year background check to a full background check means First Nations individuals who have criminal records as a result of systemic discrimination will not be permitted ownership), the limitation of transportation, and the new data being collected that poses a privacy risk. The transportation restrictions also put more responsibility on First Nations police services that are already under-funded.

The AFN was opposed to this legislation, including participation as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees once and Senate committees once.

This bill will infringe on hunting rights and autonomy rights for First Nations through the prevention of access (moving from a five year background check to a full background check means First Nations individuals who have criminal records as a result of systemic discrimination will not be permitted ownership), the limitation of transportation, and the new data being collected that poses a privacy risk. The transportation restrictions also put more responsibility on First Nations police services that are already under-funded.

The bill is focused on repealing the previous government’s decision, through Bill C-15, to arbitrarily merge four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley into one super-board. This decision violated constitutionally protected Indigenous land claim and self-government agreements, and it ended up in court. This new piece of legislation means that The Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act includes four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley, which are central to comprehensive land claims and self-government agreements of several local Indigenous governments and organizations. This bill will allow much more Indigenous input and consultation when it comes to resource development in the Mackenzie Valley area.

The AFN co-developed this legislation and also participated as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees twice (20/02/2019 and 26/02/2019) and Senate committees once.

The impacts of Bill C-91 provide legal assurance for adequate, sustainable and long-term funding for First Nations-led efforts to revitalize their languages and affirms Indigenous language rights as inherent rights within Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and empowers self-determined language rights. Bill C-91 establishes The Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages.

Bill C-91 is the result of decades of advocacy by First Nations leaders, Elders and language champions.

The AFN co-developed this legislation, including participation as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees once and Senate committees once.

This legislation affirms First Nations jurisdiction, which is crucial to First Nations building their own systems based on their own governance, laws, and policies, and affirms the inherent Indigenous and Treaty rights of First Nations, including self-determination and self-government over First Nations child and family services.

Bill C-92 sets out key principles that will prevent children from being removed from their homes unnecessarily, promotes children staying in their communities and nations and ensures “the best interests of the child” principle is understood and applied with a First Nations lens for children and families.

The AFN was opposed to this legislation and provided a written submission to the House Standing Committee on Finance.

While the bill provides significant financial contributions to First Nations causes, the AFN remains opposed to the bill as it stands due to the lack of consultation surrounding major changes that directly affect Indigenous and First Nations groups. In particular, the splitting of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development into two new departments (Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs). This lack of adequate consultation reflects poorly on reconciliation and co-development of policies that impact the lives of First Nations peoples and their communities.

The AFN was supportive of this legislation, including participation as witnesses in House of Commons’ committees once.

This bill would have demonstrated a serious commitment to reconciliation and would have forced Canada to use a nation-to-nation approach to governance. This bill was extremely contentious and was deliberately stalled on the Senate floor (this bill was given limited time for discussion as it was a private members bill as opposed to a government bill). The major point of contention focused around the need for “free, prior, and informed consent” on infrastructure projects. There was also pushback regarding the notion that a piece of legislation that realizes the goals of the United Nations erodes Canadian sovereignty. During the 2019 federal election, the Liberal party (who went on to win the election with a minority government), the New Democratic Party and the Green Party all committed to legislation on the UN Declaration in the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The Liberal party made a similar promise in 2015 prior to the election

Priority Bill Summaries

Priority Bills Passed in the 42nd Parliament

  • S-3 – An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général)

  • C-17 – An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

  • C-45 – An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

  • C-48 – An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia’s north coast (TRAN)

  • C-55 – An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act (FOPO)

  • C-58 – An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

  • C-59 – An Act respecting national security matters (SECU)

  • C-61 – An Act to give effect to the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

  • C-64 – An Act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations (TRAN)

  • C-66 – An Act to establish a procedure for expunging certain historically unjust convictions and to make related amendments to other Acts

  • C-68 – An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence

  • C-69 – An Act to amend the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act

  • C-70 – An Act to give effect to the Agreement on Cree Nation Governance between the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Canada, to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

  • C-71 – An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms

  • C-75 – An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts

  • C-76 – Elections Modernization Act

  • C-81 – An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

  • C-86 – A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures

  • C-88 – An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

  • C-91 – An Act respecting Indigenous languages

  • C-92 – An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

Celebrating Our Achievements

AFN parliamentary advocacy takes a number of different forms. Here is a description of recently conducted parliamentary advocacy.

Pushing On

While there is much to celebrate, there have been stumbling blocks to some legislation. Here are bills that did not achieve royal assent. AFN will continue to work towards the goals of these bills.

  • C-262 – An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • C-369 – An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Day Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day)

  • C-386 – An Act to establish Orange Shirt Day: A Day for Truth and Reconciliation

While Bill S-215: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for violent offences against Aboriginal women) did not achieve Royal Assent, many of its protections for Indigenous women and girls were included in Bill C-75 thanks to amendments brought forth by Senator Dyck.

Recent Parliamentary Monitoring:

Parliamentary Wrap Up: 42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Past Parliamentary Monitoring:

41st Parliament, 1st Session

Hydrocarbon Transportation

Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Real Interests or Rights Act

Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act

Bill C-45:  Jobs and Growth Act

Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act

Bill C-38: Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act

Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, 2012

2004 Health Accord

Bill S-6: First Nations Election Act

Re-setting the Relationship: Full Commemoration of Role and Contributions of First Nations

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act

First Nations and Canada: Working Together for a Sustainable Energy Future

Bill C-10: Safe Streets and Communities Act

Transforming the Relationship to Work Together on a Shared Vision for First Nations

Structural Transformation and Critical Investments in First Nations on the Path to Shared Prosperity

Research and Policy Coordination Staff

Amber Potts
Director


Bertina Lou
Policy Analyst


Daniel Wilson
Associate Director


Jordan Fischer
Senior Research and Policy Analyst


Kalyne Beaudry
Junior Policy Analyst


Khamarie Desjarlais
Administrative Assistant


Laila Kasuri
Special Advisor


Lisa Smith
Senior Policy Analyst


Natasha Beedie
Senior Policy Coordinator


Celso CercadoParliamentary Relations