First Nation Governance & Inherent Right
First Nation Governance is a path of self-determination. Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is walking that path. NAN has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at giving its First Nations more control over the matters that affect them. The goal of these First Nation Governance strategies is to strengthening and empower all the First Nations of NAN.
First Nation Governance is based on Aboriginal peoples' inherent right to self-determination. The inherent right was given by the Creator and has always existed. First Nation Governance is rooted in the principles of sovereignty, Aboriginal rights and treaty rights. First Nation Governance is articulated in the NAN Declaration Of Rights And Principles.
- THE RIGHT TO SELF-GOVERNMENT.
- THE RIGHT TO RECIEVE COMPENSATION FOR OUR EXPLOITED NATURAL RESOURCES.
- THE RIGHT TO RECIEVE COMPENSATION FOR THE DESTRUCTION AND ABROGATION OF OUR HUNTING AND FISHING RIGHTS
- THE RIGHT TO RE-NEGOTIATE OUR TREATY.
- THE RIGHT TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE ELECTED GOVERNMENTS OF YOUR SOCIETY THROUGH APPROPRIATE LEVELS OF REPRESENTATION.
- THE RIGHT TO APPROACH THE JUDICIAL, GOVERNMENTAL AND BUSINESS INSTITUTIONS OF YOUR SOCIETY IN OUR QUEST FOR SELF-DETERMINATION AND LOCAL CONTROL.
- THE RIGHT OF OUR ELECTED CHIEFS TO DEAL WITH YOUR SOCIETY'S ELECTED CABINETS ON AN EQUAL BASIS.
- THE RIGHT TO APPROACH OTHER WORLD NATIONS TO FURTHER THE AIMS OF THE CREE AND OJIBWAY NATIONS OF TREATY #9.
- THE RIGHT TO USE EVERY NECESSARY ALTERNATIVE TO FURTHER THE CAUSE OF OUR PEOPLE.
- THE RIGHT TO USE ALL THAT THE CREATOR HAS GIVEN US TO HELP ALL OF MANKIND.
An excerpt from: A Declaration of Nishnawbe-Aski, July 6, 1977
First Nation People have the inherent right to determine how they will govern themselves. This means that Aboriginal people have the right to make decisions about their lives and communities. The Creator gave this right to the people. No other government can take away the Inherent Right. However, the ability of First Nations to govern themselves effectively and exercise their inherent right has been steadily eroded since the Europeans arrived here. Government policies, laws and colonialism have devastated Aboriginal cultures and traditions. Legislation called the Indian Act has had a significant impact on First Nations' ability to control their own affairs.
"In order to regain our freedom we must establish our own control, and return to our traditional philosophy of life." - Excerpt from the NAN Declaration of Principles and Rights, July 6, 1977.
The Mandate For Nation-Building At Nishnawbe Aski Nation
The Self-Governance Sectoral Negotiation Process Goal
In 1997 the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Chiefs-In-Assembly mandated, by Resolution 97-03 - Self Government Proposal, the NAN Executive to enter into a sectoral negotiation process with Canada to:
Establish and carry out negotiations on behalf of the First Nations of NAN with the Government of Canada under the federal Inherent Right Policy;
Negotiate jurisdiction in several areas including, but not limited to, governance, education, justice, economic development, social services and health. Currently NAN is negotiating in two areas Governance and Education jurisdiction. Other sectors to be negotiated could be added later.
The goal of the sectoral negotiation process is to achieve self-governance agreements in areas that affect the lives of the members of the First Nations of NAN. Through this process the First Nations of NAN can create a vision for how they wish their communities to be governed and how they would like their education systems to work. The sectoral negotiation process is one way for NAN First Nations to exercise their inherent right to self-governance and to regain jurisdiction over matters that are integral to their communities.
It is also important to understand that First Nations are not making a commitment to exercise self-governance just by participating in this process. Each NAN First Nation will decide for itself whether it wishes to remain under the Indian Act or be governed by the self-governance agreements negotiated. Any First Nation can take part in the entire sectoral negotiations process and still decide at the end whether they want to sign the Final Agreement or not.
The Self-Governance Sectoral Negotiation Process Direction
The governance negotiations are co-directed by two steering committees and by the NAN Executive Council. The Governance Steering Committee and Education Jurisdiction Steering Committee are made up of representatives from each of the NAN Tribal Councils and Independent First Nations. The Steering Committees meet regularly with the Negotiating Team and with the NAN Governance Secretariat.
Since 2000, each of the NAN Tribal Councils have engaged Regional Governance Coordinators or RGCs, (formally Community Research Coordinators or CRCs) to supported the process
The Governance Secretariat supports the RGCs, the negotiating team and the Steering Committees by doing research, the collection of data from NAN First Nations, creating materials, coordinating negotiator and committee meetings, providing RGC training, and providing communications. As coordinated by the RGCs, members of the Governance Secretariat have been travelling to NAN First Nations to hold information sessions to create awareness about the governance process and to gather vital information to be used during the negotiations.