Stage 1: Framework Agreement
In 1997, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Chiefs in Assembly passed resolutions to begin the process of Governance (Resolution 97/03) and Education Jurisdiction (Resolution 97/11) negotiations with Canada to begin separate framework agreements. On December 3, 1998, the NAN Chiefs in Assembly passed resolution 98/75, mandating the NAN Executive to finalize and sign the Framework Agreements on Governance and Education. The Framework Agreements outline a commitment to negotiate and are not legally binding. It basically says that NAN and the Government of Canada are committed to discussing governance options, developing workplans, and a mandate to negotiating Agreements-in-Principle. This stage essentially involves laying out the agenda for what will be discussed in the negotiations. Framework agreements for Governance and Education Jurisdiction were signed by NAN and the Government of Canada on October 16, 1999.
Stage 2: Agreements-in-Principle (AIP)
The Agreements-in-Principle is a very important stage which involves working out the full range of issues to be covered in the Final Agreements. The Governance Agreement-in-Principle and the Education Jurisdiction Agreement-in-Principle detail all elements of the Final Agreement, such as the funding distribution, scope of authority, accountability, timing, and the roles of NAN, Tribal Councils, individual First Nations, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. If something is not included in the AIPs, it will not be addressed in the Final Agreements. So, the AIPs limit the scope of the Final Agreements. Because of this, it was critical that the AIPs created, are as comprehensive and detailed as possible so that nothing is left out of the Final Agreements. The Draft Agreements-in-Principle for Governance and Education Jurisdiction were tabled in June 2007 and final Agreements-in-Principle for the Governance Sector and the Education Jurisdiction were initialled on July 29, 2009.
- NAN / Canada Initialled Governance Agreement-in-Principle
- NAN / Canada Initialled Education Jurisdiction Agreement-in-Principle
Stage 3: AIP Community Ratification
With the formulated Agreements-in-Principle, the NAN Governance Secretariat and the Regional Governance Coordinators will take these documents to individual participating NAN First Nation communities for discussion and ratification via Band Council Resolution. If a First Nation ratifies the Agreements-in-Principle, the subsequent Final Agreements will apply to it. The Agreements-in-Principle for Governance and Education Jurisdiction will be supported through a Band Council Resolution and will mandate the Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation to sign the Agreements-in-Principle on behalf of that First Nation. The Parliamentary Cabinet will also be required to review and approve the Agreements-in-Principle. Like the Framework Agreements, the Agreements-in-Principle are not legally binding.
Stage 4: Final Agreement
During this stage the parties discuss how things will be administered under a self-governance agreement. It will include a funding agreement and implementation plan. This is the final version of the agreement and is based on the Agreement-in-Principle and will include everything from the AIP.
Stage 5: Final Agreement Community Ratification
Once a Final Agreement is reached, community consultation will be coordinated by each NAN First Nation, informing community members about the Final Agreement in detail so that everyone understands what is being agreed to in order to ensure informed consent. Informed consent will be ensured by holding community and Tribal Council information meetings, distributing background packages and information bulletins, and through media releases. The Final Agreement will be approved or rejected by each First Nation. Those that sign will be bound by the Self-governance Agreement and will no longer operate under the Indian Act. Those that do not sign will continue to be governed by the Indian Act. Once approved by the First Nations, it will then go to Parliament in the form of legislation for ratification. The Final Agreement is legally binding.
Stage 6: Pre-Implementation Activities
During this stage, the First Nations that supported and signed the Final Agreement, as represented by NAN, will set up a government according to the government structure established in the Final Agreement. Law-making will be a part of this stage.
Stage 7: Implementation
The implementation stage is the final stage of the process and involves the exercise of laws and jurisdiction.