January 24th, 2012 – Overview

The agenda for the Gathering will involve: ceremony marking and affirming the historic, enduring relationship; opportunity to identify challenges and mark progress, with First Nation delegations able to make presentations either on site or by video conference; and a concluding session that will aim to set a future agenda.

The format of the Crown–First Nation Gathering includes:

Part One: Ceremony reflecting and affirming the enduring relationship between First Nations and the Crown as well as confirming the heritage and future of Indigenous peoples’ as fundamental to Canadian reality, identity and culture.

Part Two: Addresses by First Nation and Crown leadership

Part Three: Concurrent sessions on agreed-upon topics to maximize opportunity for submission for the First Nation delegations to present its views and to dialogue with members of Cabinet, caucus and federal officials as designated. The themes for the sessions would include:

– Strengthening the Relationship and Enabling Opportunities
– Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies
– Realizing the Promise of First Nations Peoples (education, health, safe and secure communities, etc.)

Part Four: Summary to conclude concurrent session and setting a forward looking agenda



Please be advised that the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and other representatives of the Government of Canada will meet with Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and a delegation of First Nations Chiefs to discuss key priority areas, such as: Strengthening the Crown-First Nation Relationship and Enabling Opportunity; Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies; and Realizing the Promise of First Nations Peoples.

Event: Crown-First Nations Gathering
Date: January 24, 2012
Location: 111 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON
Time: Registration to begin at 7:00 AM.

Accreditation and Registration:
Entry is restricted to journalists accredited through the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery. For more information on accreditation, contact Terry Guillon, Chief of the Press Gallery, at 613-992-4511 or guillt@parl.gc.ca

Media representatives wishing to pick up their accreditation ahead of time will be able to do so at the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery office, located at 150 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario. The accreditations will be distributed in the 6th Floor Boardroom of the Press Gallery. A valid photo ID will be required in order to obtain your pass. The hours of operation will be as follows:

Monday, January 23, 2012 9:00AM to 5:00PM
Please note that on the day of the event, media accreditations will also be available for pick-up on site.

Media Opportunities:
For planning purposes – Subject to change
7:00 AM Registration and Set-up.
Entrance for media through side doors and media equipment through the back entrance
8:30 AM Arrivals of VIPs
9:00 – 10:30 AM Opening Ceremonies including Keynote Address
10:50 AM – 11:30 AM Speeches
3:50 PM Closing Ceremony and Remarks
4:15 PM Closing prayer

Also available online:

Agenda: Crown – First Nations Gathering – “Strengthening Our Relationship – Unlocking Our Economic Potential”
*Also attached
Government of Canada Progress Report (2006 – 2012)

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Yao
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable John Duncan

AANDC Media Relations Line

Assembly of First Nations
Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 382

Crown – First Nations Gathering
“Strengthening Our Relationship – Unlocking Our Economic Potential”

January 24, 2012

7:00 a.m. Registration Opens at the Sussex Tower Entrance

8:00 a.m. Registration Closes

8:15 a.m. All participants are seated in Victoria Hall to watch arrivals on screen

8:55 a.m. Pre-Ceremony Begins

9:00 a.m. Opening Ceremonies

Grand Entry Procession, Honour Song, Singing of O Canada, Smudging Ceremony and Opening Prayer, Exchange of Gifts and Prayer Chant

9:45 a.m. Opening Speeches

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Governor General of Canada
Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Assembly of First Nations

10:23 a.m. Break

10:43 a.m. Highlighting Achievements and Priorities

Government of Canada Progress Report

Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies

Strengthening the Relationship and Enabling Opportunity

Realizing the Promise of First Nations Peoples

11:30 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. Private Concurrent Sessions (in camera, with interactive virtual participation for delegates)

Session 1: Strengthening the Relationship and Enabling Opportunity

This session will focus on:

– affirming and advancing the Treaty relationship
– emerging arrangements and partnerships
– moving beyond the Indian Act through enabling and supporting First Nation governments e.g. land management
– improving claims negotiation and implementation

Session 2: Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies

This session will examine issues and opportunities related to:

– advancing common economic interests through respectful partnerships and meaningful engagement
– enabling community development
– strengthening the capacity of First Nations women and men to contribute as economic leaders
– good governance and accountability as a foundation for a transformed fiscal relationship and economic success
– respectful participation in major projects and resource development partnerships
– addressing the regulatory framework, e.g. ATR / land designation

Session 3: Realizing the Promise of First Nations Peoples

This session will explore approaches to:

– focussing on the next generation: children, youth and families
– improving education, skills, and training
– strengthening labour market participation, including for women in all fields
– respecting the role of language and culture

3:00 p.m. Break

3:30 p.m. Plenary Session resumes

In camera report from moderator to delegates on the three concurrent sessions

3:55 p.m. Closing Remarks

Government of Canada Representative [TBC]
Assembly of First Nations Representative [TBC]

4:16 p.m. Closing ceremony and prayer



The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. This includes more than 800,000 citizens living in 633 First Nations communities, as well as rural and urban areas.

Every Chief in Canada is entitled to be a member of the AFN. The National Chief is elected by the Chiefs who are in turn elected by their citizens. Policy and direction for the AFN is established by the Chiefs-in-Assembly through the passage of resolutions.

The AFN is an advocacy organization for First Nations. Its role is to advance First Nation priorities and objectives as mandated by the Chiefs-in-Assembly. This includes providing an organizing and coordinating role, providing legal and policy analysis, communicating with governments and the general public, facilitating national and regional discussions and facilitating relationship building between the Crown and First Nations.

Assembly of First Nations

473 Albert Street, 9th floor
Ottawa, ON K1R 5B4
Telephone: (613) 241-6789 / Toll-free: 1-866-869-6789
Fax: (613) 241-5808


© Assembly of First Nations




1. First Nation ‐ Crown Relationship
2. New Fiscal Relationships
3. Implementation of First Nation Governments
4. Structural Change


Supporting First Nation Families and Communities
Exercising and Implementing Our Rights
Supporting First Nation Governments
Advancing Economic and Environmental Interests

Indigenous peoples have the right to self‐determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
‐ Article 3 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

First Nations throughout Canada have clear Treaty and Indigenous title and rights and jurisdiction over their territories and peoples. The earliest period of Crown  ‐  First Nation relations is characterized by alliance, friendship and mutual benefit, respect and recognition. However, the imposition of the Indian Act and policies pursuant to the Act directly subverted and denied such recognition. Canada’s most senior officials commented that “our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada” and an overall process to bring Indigenous peoples from, according to them, our “savage and unproductive” state by imposing European‐style civilization through the residential schools and specific laws and policies outlawing culture, language, spiritual practices and even denying basic rights of association and movement.

Building on the strong foundation set through Treaty making, constitutional processes, the Apology offered to Survivors of Residential schools and the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, First Nations are now advancing a clear path forward to re‐set and re‐new the Crown‐First Nation relationship. The Crown‐First Nations Gathering January on 24, 2012 is the next critical step as First Nations take forward our specific plans for progress based on our rights and responsibilities.

It is clear that every First Nation, Nation or Treaty group, through individual and regional dialogue, respectful of their local and regional circumstances, must have the full opportunity to consider options, to design and ultimately to restore and rebuild self‐determination reflective of their own vision, rights and responsibilities.

At the same time, there are clear common elements and principles that are shared among First Nations. The mandate of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is to facilitate, foster and advance support for all First Nation governments pursuing and giving full expression to their right to self‐determination, the implementation of Treaties, inherent rights, Aboriginal title and jurisdiction. This is the path forward that will enable First Nations to build safe, healthy and secure communities, generate sustainable economic activity, create jobs and foster optimism and success in every First Nation citizen regardless of where they reside.

Decades of research, legal challenges, studies and advocacy by First Nation leadership and citizens directly inform this work. These include the Wahbung report, the 1981 Declaration of First Nations leaders, the constitutional talks of the 80s, the 1983 Penner Report, the 1996 Report of the Royal

Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) and the mandate provided to AFN in the 2005 Recognition and Implementation of First Nation governments work.

First Nations have confirmed a clear and focused plan – Our Plan is a common and united front across Canada. As summarized by national consensus in Resolution 6/2007, it requires Reconciliation and Recognition of First Nation Governments affirming Treaty and Aboriginal rights, consistent with section 35, Constitution Act, 1982; Sustainability and Structural Change by Implementing First Nation governments including the transformation of the fiscal relationship between the Federal Crown and First Nations to enable sustainable, stable transfers, First Nation government capacity and nation‐building through institutional development and supports; and policy change and machinery of government changes in the form of eliminating the Indian Act and the Department of Indian Affairs.

V I S I O N 

First Nations seek to ‘smash the status quo’  ‐ conditions that disadvantage, disempower and harm First Nations. First Nations seek to renew the Crown‐First Nations relationship on the basis of respect, recognition and reconciliation. Moving forward, a shared commitment to full implementation, equity, mutual accountability, and effective joint monitoring and oversight is needed.

K E Y   O V E R A R C H I N G   E L E M E N T S 

1. First Nation ‐ Crown Relationship
2. New Fiscal Relationships
3. Implementation of First Nation Governments
4. Structural Change


States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process. (Article 27 UNDRIP)

As stated in its Preamble, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples sets out a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and Treaties entered into between the Crown and First Nations embody a nation‐to‐nation relationship, based on the right of self‐determination and the principles of peaceful coexistence and sharing. This relationship has been systematically eroded by federal policies and legislation over the years. The Crown and First Nations need to reset and renew the relationship, based on the principles of self‐determination and the spirit and intent of Treaties, as understood by First Nations. New mechanisms and processes need to be put in place to reaffirm and rebuild the nation‐to‐nation relationship.

Past Recommendations:

The Penner Report recommended that a First Nations Recognition Act be developed jointly with First Nations; that Canada adopt legislation authorizing it to enter into agreements with First Nations on power sharing and to define respective jurisdictions; and, legislation under the authority of s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 designed to occupy all areas of competence necessary to permit First Nations to govern themselves effectively.

In 2006, RCAP recommended that Parliament enact an Aboriginal Nations Recognition and Government Act as well as establishing continuing and bilateral processes to renew the Crown’s relationship with First Nations.

Changing the relationship through such mechanisms would create tangible steps towards reconciliation as has been called for by the Supreme Court of Canada and promised through the 2008 Indian Residential School Apology by the Prime Minster.

Next Steps:

The Crown First Nations Gathering, as a tangible step forward from the Apology and the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration, will occur on January 24, 2012. This Gathering must be grounded in ceremony to reflect original tenets of the nation to nation relationship, including respect, peace, friendship and mutual benefit.

1. Agreement between First Nations and the Crown to hold such Gatherings at regular intervals to renew and re‐establish the relationship, measure progress on shared objectives and to confirm an agenda for the future through mutual agreement.

2. Treaty First Nations will bring forward collective views on Treaties and engage directly with the Crown on means to advance Treaty implementation.

3. First Nations will also look to bring forward specific plans in key areas and seek commitment to implementation (see below under Building First Nations Governments) – the next step may involve provincial and territorial governments as partners in implementation and commitment of all jurisdictions.

4. A process to jointly examine options for a broad Crown – First Nations Framework or Agreement on advancing / recognizing the First Nations‐Crown relationship should begin. This may include recommendations from RCAP, standards for monitoring and compliance regarding the honour of the Crown, a Parliamentary Proclamation / Order in Council to achieve significant advancements in recognizing and implementing First Nation governments.

5. A related area of work would be jointly establishing principles and approaches for joint legislative development on matters affecting First Nation rights and interests. Such legislation would be an interim measure until the full implementation of First Nation laws.


Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self‐determination, have the right to autonomy or self‐ government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions. (Article 4 UNDRIP)

Historic and current underfunding of First Nations through all aspects of their programming and government services has been extremely well documented.

First Nation citizens do not enjoy services comparable to those provided to Canadians. While Canadians receive services from all levels of government, through direct federal transfers to provinces and territories, and at an average annual growth rate of 6.6% per year, Finance Canada has maintained an arbitrary 2% cap on spending increases on core services for First Nations since 1996. Yet, First Nation Governments provide a huge range of programs and services to their citizens – in other cases provided through a combination of three levels of government with associated institutional support.

Current funding practices and mechanisms are not reflective of the original Nation‐to‐Nation relationship. First Nation governments are not treated as legal entities by Canada, but instead, are subject to the same funding arrangements as organizations and are primarily funded through multiple annual, discretionary Contribution Agreements.

Past Recommendations:

The Auditor General concluded in the June 2011 Status Report:

The use of contribution agreements to fund services for First Nations communities has also led to uncertainty about funding levels. Statutory programs such as land claim agreements must be fully funded, but this is not the case for services provided through contribution agreements. Accordingly, it is not certain whether funding levels provided to First Nations in one year will be available the following year. This situation creates a level of uncertainty for First Nations and makes long‐term planning difficult. In contrast, legislation may commit the federal government to provide statutory funding to meet defined levels of service. A legislative base including statutory funding could remove the uncertainty that results when funding for services depends on the availability of resources.

First Nation governments need new fiscal transfer arrangements as legal Nation entities based on a stable allocation reflecting demographics, need and inflation, as well as the spirit and intent of treaties and the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Next Steps:

1. Seek clear commitment to fiscal principles as outlined by First Nations and the AFN in pre‐budget submissions as a fundamental first step in transforming the fiscal relationship including: equity, fairness, stability, predictability, accountability, flexibility, authority/autonomy and access to capital.

2. Conduct a joint analysis that evaluates existing practices in fiscal transfers (using federal, provincial  and territorial models, resource revenue sharing, international examples) and identify options for new fiscal mechanisms.

3. First Nations to examine effective reporting and accountability practices and processes for support, development of standards and accreditation.



Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision‐making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision‐making institutions. (Article 18, UNDRIP)

First Nation governments in Canada have faced relentless challenges to their capacity to govern their own affairs and interact with other governments – to benefit from and participate in the management of resources within their traditional lands, to discuss principles of trade and commerce, interaction of laws, movement of people between jurisdictions, among other matters. The Treaty relationship and the experience of Treaty making provides the principles of partnership, sharing and fair‐dealings. This is not however how the relationship with Canada and First Nations has proceeded over time.

As in the attached detailed specific plans, whether in health, education, child welfare, housing, economic development and infrastructure, First Nations express a common framework for moving forward. The approach is based on First Nation rights to:

• affirm First Nation jurisdiction;
• secure fair, sustainable funding to build effective First Nation governmental and institutional capacity within a new fiscal relationship;
• enable effective intergovernmental cooperation; and
• advance new partnerships.

Within every sectoral area, we see concrete advancements and clear plans for change. Already, we see specific progress being achieved through First Nation advancement in these areas – examples include the Mi’kmaq education authority, the Alberta education MOU, the recent BC First Nation health agreement and many others.

In addition to these approaches, First Nations have also advanced comprehensive self‐government agreements. A major obstacle to more agreements is the federal self‐government policy which must be changed to bring it in line with the principles of recognition and affirmation in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The single biggest challenge facing existing agreements is securing effective implementation and monitoring by all parties to the agreement in particular the federal government and other governments that may be involved.

Implementing and strengthening First Nation governments also requires special focus on the core capacity of First Nation governments and their ability to move forward on strategic and comprehensive community planning. Also, focus is required in the following areas as consistently mandated through resolution and affirmed in the UNDRIP, including citizenship, leadership selection and dispute resolution. Moving forward, transitional mechanisms are required to support First Nations to re‐build structures and capacity, while ensuring accountability to citizens and the adequate provision of needed services.

Next Steps:

1. Support the effective implementation of agreements through joint implementation planning and clear commitment of all jurisdictions to monitor successful implementation and make adjustments as required.

2. Commitment to key policy reform including the federal policies on self‐government and comprehensive claims to lead to fair, expeditious settlement. This will involve a clear political commitment to change based on the principles of recognition and affirmation rather than denial and extinguishment.

3. First Nations to conduct comprehensive community planning, so that all Nations can move forward on their own priorities as identified by their citizens, at the rate and pace of their own choosing.

4. Support the development of regional‐driven tools and supports for First Nation governments respectful of regional realities and regional approaches.

5. Support and enable First Nation government capacity and institution building as directed by and directly serving First Nation governments with consideration to nationally mandated structures, such as the proposed Virtual Institute for energy and mining.

6. Specific and sustained investment in critical areas essential to address barriers to progress with priority in education as well as overall health and safety including safe drinking water and adequate shelter.



Past Recommendations:

The June 2011 Status Report of the Auditor General reflected on 10 years of recommendations to improve the living conditions of First Nations, and observed that there had been little measurable improvement. Ultimately, the Auditor General concluded that structural impediments prevented improvements for First Nations and that these must change if any meaningful change is to occur.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples had recommended fundamental restructuring within Government to better reflect the Nation‐to‐Nation relationship and to move beyond entrenched impediments. Recommendations include abolishing the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (recently renamed Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, or AANDC) and creating a Department of Aboriginal Relations and a Department of Indian and Inuit Services. RCAP also recommended a continuing bilateral process to implement and renew the Crown’s relationship with and obligations to the Treaty nations under the historical Treaties, in accordance with the Treaties’ spirit and intent, along with the establishment of a Crown‐Treaty office within the Department of Aboriginal Relations.

Such structural changes would support the other elements identified and better ensure that funding identified to support First Nation governments is used for these purposes as opposed to supporting increased bureaucracy.

Next Steps:

1. First and foremost, affirmation of First Nation control over First Nation interests is required

2. Careful legal review is required to assess the impact and implications of transition options related to any structural change to ensure that provisions that are required in accordance with inherent and Treaty rights are maintained. First Nations work in this area began with special presentation to the Special Chiefs Assembly December 2011.

3. Conduct a review of current federal structures tasked with providing services to First Nations for relevancy and efficiency and create recommendations for new federal machinery with clear performance measures for First Nations.

4. Dissolve AANDC and create a new entity with clear responsibility and mandate to maintain the First Nation‐Crown relationship

5. Advance internal First Nation strategies for structural change to support First Nation re‐building and advancement of governing regimes to ensure effectiveness, efficiency and excellence in service provided to all First Nation citizens

6. Advance effective intergovernmental arrangements that ensure equity and harmony of services between First Nation governments and reconciliation with relevant provincial or federal laws.


Supported by and grounded in the broad vision and directed by Chiefs‐in‐Assembly, the AFN has developed specific plans to achieve results in key interest areas.

The following outlines the critical steps and actions needed in these areas – building on the broader, transformational shifts outlined previously – to achieve change.

Supporting Families and Communities

• Lifelong Learning
• First Nation Languages & Culture
• Health
• Social Development & Child Welfare
• Infrastructure and Housing
• Emergency Preparedness & Response

Exercising and Implementing Our Rights

• Treaties
• Land Rights and Claims
• Justice

Supporting First Nation Governments

• Recognition and Support of First Nation Governments
• Accountability
• New Fiscal Relationships

Advancing Economic and Environmental Interests  

• Economic Partnerships
• Environment
• Natural Resources
• Fisheries


AFN will work with and support First Nations to ensure respect for, the health and well‐being of, and opportunity for First Nations youth, families and communities. Through education and skills training, we have an opportunity to overcome the attempts of the residential school system to destroy our cultures and languages by dividing our communities and families.

This is our time to use education as our tool to retain and maintain the strength of First Nations languages, history, teachings and values while facilitating better understanding between First Nations and the rest of Canadian society.

First Nation families and communities deserve safety and security, which includes adequate housing, health services, and the provision of essential infrastructure such as clean drinking water. Families and communities must be fully supported in fulfilling their roles in securing success and opportunity for their children.

The rebuilding of families and communities will promote First Nations participation in strong and sustainable economies locally and nationally. This is our time to empower our fast growing youth population in ways that will ensure a future of opportunity, success and prosperity. The voices of our youth must be heard, understood and included.

AFN Strategic Plan, 2009



Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning. (Article 14 (1), UNDRIP)


First Nations have long advocated for the development and implementation of comprehensive education systems under full First Nation jurisdiction that support quality lifelong learning grounded in First Nations’ languages, cultures, traditions, values and worldviews

AFN Resolution 12‐2010 notes that “First Nations leaders and educators recognize that the right to and policy of Indian Control of Indian Education still applies in 2010 as it did in 1972.” The resolution adopts First Nations Control of First Nations Education 2010 as the national First Nations education policy. In 2010 the government of Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The education provisions of the Declaration provide a framework for addressing issues in First Nations education.

The following key elements are advanced as the basis for long term meaningful transformation of First Nations education:

1. Educational Governance – Development of the mechanisms required to implement First Nations control of First Nations education, ensure predictable and equitable funding, and clarify roles and responsibilities of the Crown.

2. Immediate Measures – Support of immediate measures for all First Nations education programs, prior to full education reform, that are needed to ensure that every First Nation learner has access to education programs and services comparable to those offered by Canada’s provincial and territorial education systems.

3. First Nations Learning Systems – Implementation of First Nations education systems across the full spectrum of lifelong learning.

4. Partnerships – Work with organizations, the public and private sector to invest in our schools and our learners and to develop standards of cultural competency for all educators.

5. Education Infrastructure – Ensure that all First Nations learners, regardless of residency, have access to healthy and safe education institutions.

These elements are premised on empowering First Nations to take control of their education. The AFN, in collaboration with First Nations communities and leadership, has driven a number of key education initiatives to support this premise:

• Indian Control of Indian Education (1972)
• Tradition and Education: Towards a Vision of our Future – Declaration on First Nations Jurisdiction (1988)
• First Nations Educational Jurisdiction, National Background Paper (2001)
• Investing in the Future: First Nations Education In Canada (2003)
• Fiscal Fairness for First Nations (2006)
• First Nations Background and Position Paper on Systems (2007)
• First Nations National Language Strategy Implementation Cost (2007)
• Community Dialogues on First Nations Holistic Lifelong Learning (2008)
• Call to Action on First Nations Education (2010)
• First Nations Control of First Nations Education (2010)
• Taking Action for First Nations Post‐Secondary Education: Access, Opportunity, and Outcomes (2010)
• Virtual Dialogues Series on Post‐Secondary Education (2010‐2011)
• Joint Development with the Federal Government of The National Panel on Education (2011‐2012)


The following represents the First Nations Plan for Education for the time period between 2012 and 2017. It is expected that there will be no unilateral changes to First Nations education budgets or programs prior to the plan going into effect.

1. Educational Governance


  • Establish the necessary implementation mechanisms required for First Nations to exercise full control over all aspects of lifelong learning.
  • Joint Crown – First Nations process to develop legislation driven by consultation with First Nations.
  • Development of long‐term funding mechanisms (formula, agreements, etc.) that provide sustainable, equitable and predictable funding based on real costs and indexation over all aspects of lifelong learning.

By 2017

  • Use agreed upon mechanisms to implement full First Nation control over lifelong learning including early learning, elementary, secondary and post‐secondary education and First Nations institutions of Higher Learning.
  • A statutory basis to enable First Nations control of First Nations education, ensures predictable and equitable funding, and clarifies roles and responsibilities of the Crown.

2. Immediate Measures


• Remove the 2% cap on annual expenditure increases in education.
• Implement immediate interim funding measures to support all First Nations education programsto ensure comparability of programs and services with those offered by provincial/territorial education systems prior to full education reform.
• Increase support for existing First Nations post‐secondary education programs, including First Nations post‐secondary institutions.
• Ensure culturally relevant early learning programs for all First Nations children.
• Provide inclusive student support services for all First Nations learners, reflecting requirements for students with special needs.

3. First Nations Learning Systems


• Building on existing infrastructure, identify resource requirements for the implementation of First Nations education systems, including early learning, elementary‐secondary, and post‐secondary.

By 2017

• Implementation of First Nations education systems that include second and third level services for educators, curriculum development, education standards, data management systems, research and development across all aspects of lifelong learning.

4. Partnerships


• Building on existing infrastructure, identify resource requirements for the implementation of First Nations education systems, including early learning, elementary‐secondary, and post‐secondary.

By 2017

• All students in Canada have access to culturally appropriate curriculum that addresses the contributions, histories and cultures of First Nations and the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples.

• Intergovernmental agreements are in place to: recognize and support First Nations control of First Nations lifelong learning, address transferability between systems, and facilitate exchange and cooperation.

• Building upon the National Apology for the legacy of residential schools, implement a national public education strategy that informs and educates all members of the public about First Nations.

5. Education Infrastructure


• Immediate financial support for renovating existing education institutions/facilities and building new ones where required.

• Support and enhance the transportation infrastructure required for education, including early learning, special needs, and adult education.

By 2017

• Ensure that all First Nations learners, regardless of residency, have access to healthy and safe education institutions.


Article 13:

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.


The Assembly of First Nations Language Implementation Plan, adopted by Chiefs in Assembly in 2007, outlines a collective and collaborative process for the revitalization and preservation of First Nations languages in Canada. The working group for the Language Implementation Plan established the following vision:

“Languages are a gift from the Creator which carry with them unique and irreplaceable values and spiritual beliefs that allow speakers to relate with their ancestors and to take part in sacred ceremonies. It is our vision that the present generation recover and strengthen the ability to speak these sacred, living languages and pass them on so that the seventh and future generations will be fluent in them. As they belong to the original peoples of this country, First Nations languages must be revitalized, protected and promoted as a fundamental element of Canadian heritage.”

To realize the vision the working group developed five goals, which are based on the legal rights for Indigenous languages outlined in various United Nations documents and consistent with First Nations policy documents on Education and Language. These policy documents include, “Wahbung, our Tomorrows” and “First Nations Control of First Nations Education”, among others. The five underpinning goals of the Implementation Plan include:

• Increase the number of First Nations people who speak their language by increasing the opportunities to learn their language.

• Increase the opportunities to use First Nations languages by increasing the number of circumstances and situations where First Nations languages can be used.

• Improve the proficiency levels of First Nations citizens in speaking, listening to, reading and writing First Nations languages.

•Increase the rate of which First Nations languages can be enhanced, revitalized and developed so that they can be used in the full range of modern activities.

• Foster among First Nations and Non‐First Nations a positive attitude towards, and accurate beliefs and positive values about First Nations languages so that the acquisition of a First Nations language becomes a valued endeavour that serves to enrich Canadian society.

Other key elements of the above plan include roles and responsibilities for governments, communities, and schools. Schools play a key role in the transmission of culture and language. The following section therefore includes revitalization and preservation of language in the context of education and schools, as well as in the context of broader First Nations conceptions of identity and citizenship. This plan builds on the vision and the associated five goals developed and adopted in the Assembly of First Nations Language Implementation Plan 2007.

With the 2008 apology by Canada to survivors of Residential Schools and Canada’s adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the time is right for the establishment of a new relationship between Canada and First Nations. This new relationship should encompass a collaborative effort between the Federal government and First Nations to revitalize and preserve theFirst Nations languages that are such an important part of pre‐ and post‐confederation Canada.


First Nation Language Recognition and Revitalization


• Establish the necessary implementation mechanisms to ensure that First Nations languages are recognized as official languages which are irreplaceable and integral to the national character, and that First Nations jurisdiction over language and culture programming is assured.

• Ensure that First Nations priorities, principles, and strategic plans are resourced in preparation for full implementation of language and cultural programming.

By 2017

• Legislation which recognizes First Nations languages as official languages in Canada, acknowledging that First Nations languages fulfill a vital role in   maintaining cultural traditions and values, family protocols, social cohesion, sacred knowledge, and spiritual continuity, and ensures the provision of funding equitable to that provided to support other official languages in Canada.

• Improved proficiency levels of First Nations citizens in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in First Nations languages.

•Increased amount of literature, artistic works, videos, academic works, pedagogical material, public communications, public services, and all manner of communications to be available in First Nations languages.

• All government departments shall coordinate federal plans, functions, programs, and resourcesto revitalize and protect First Nations languages.

First Nation Language and Culture‐Based Education and Training


• Implement immediate interim funding measures to support all First Nations language and culture programs in education institutions consistent with funding provided for official languages.

• Implement programs to enable a greater cohort of teachers who are fluent in First Nations languages.

• Develop secondary and tertiary supports to support First Nations languages instruction, curriculum and administration covering the full spectrum of lifelong learning from early childhood to adult education.

By 2017

• Secure, predictable and equitable funding ensures that First Nations will have the infrastructure to deliver appropriate language and culture programming across the holistic lifelong learning spectrum.

• Every First Nations person has access to appropriate language and cultural programming that is driven by First Nations and enables First Nations control of First Nations language and culture.

• Increased number of First Nation teachers who are fluent in First Nations languages.

• Increased numbers of First Nation language immersion programs throughout the lifelong learning spectrum.


Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions. (Article 23, UNDRIP)

The First Nations vision is to have a First Nations controlled and sustainable health system that adopts a holistic and culturally appropriate approach. This vision includes access, services and benefits to all First Nations people, regardless of where they live. It is the goal of all persons working to address First Nations health that communities will regain or improve their wellness and individuals will live healthy, empowered lives. Efforts to achieve this health system will span a spectrum of activities from realigning the system to wellness and disease prevention, ensuring that First Nations have an equitable provision of health services, and establishing a recognized First Nations jurisdiction in health services supported by sustainable funding.

To attain this, First Nation leadership must work towards developing a national partnership agreement with the objective of closing the gap in health outcomes between First Nation and non‐First Nation Canadians. Such agreements would require parties to be committed to addressing the issue of reducing First Nation health inequity in Canada and responding to the disparity in First Nation health outcomes.

To address these issues, First Nation leadership identified 8 priority areas:

1. Jurisdictional Equity and Structural Change;
2. Governance and Self Determination;
3. Sustainability in First Nations Health;
4. Integrated Primary and Continuing Care;
5. Health Human Resources;
6. Public Health Infrastructure;
7. Holistic Healing and Wellness; and
8. Information and Research Governance.

Realizing change for First Nations people will recognize the need for all governments to work together and include clear acknowledgement of the contribution of health and community safety towards closing the gap of First Nations health outcomes.

The First Nations Health Plan (FNHP) provides a First Nations operational level response to policy directions by conceptualizing two key concepts: sustainability and integration. With direction from the AFN Chiefs Committee on Health, health policy in its most condensed form can be summarized into three interconnected themes: sustainability of health services; the creation and maintenance of First Nation capacity and system development; and, governance and self‐determination. The determinants of health provide a fourth, overarching, strategic theme that links health into the broader First Nations landscape of economic development, housing, education, and social needs.

To achieve the vision of a First Nation controlled health system, the FNHP is premised on two fundamental concepts:

• Sustainability requires funding matched to population growth, health needs, and real cost drivers, as well as effective measurements to monitor and track spending. This will ensure that funding results in real improvement in First Nation health outcomes. Ultimately, sustainability will only be achieved as progress is made to establish First Nation control, management, and delivery of health systems.

• Integration is essential to overcome the myriad of health programming at federal, provincial and municipal levels that creates devastating gaps in First Nation health. Empowered First Nations will integrate health services and programs across jurisdictions to create a new holistic framework of First Nation health system renewal.

The FNHP provides a comprehensive plan to achieve transformative change in the longer term, as well as immediate improvement in the health of First Nations.

The overall goal of the FNHP is a First Nations controlled and sustainable health system that adopts a holistic and culturally appropriate approach to ensure optimal levels of health of First Nation citizens.

First Nation health authorities, with options for integrated funding and service delivery approaches, will be essential to addressing systemic inequities in health status and access to quality care, at individual, community, and Nation levels.

This Health Plan has been built from regional, national, and political perspectives and ongoing collaboration among all levels. In order to realize the vision of First Nations, meaningful participation with Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) First Ministers will be critical to advance tripartite and bipartite health accords that address systemic inequities in First Nation health and well‐being at individual, family and community levels. This requires a voice in discussions surrounding the renewal of the Health Accord in 2014.

The FNHP focuses the provision of health services, and the underlying economic and social framework that perpetuates historical and social injustices. It is comprised of 8 interconnected elements as recommended by First Nations leadership which provide practical solutions for sustainable, transformative change. These elements are:


This element speaks to the affirmation of governments to strengthen their relationships with First Nations, based on enhanced collaboration, effective working relationships and mutual respect.


Governance and self‐determination are at the heart of the FNHP’s vision which describes a First Nation controlled and sustainable health system.


Adequate, stable funding for health programs and services is a high priority for First Nations. Health funding for First Nation communities will be based on the needs of the population, and will be flexible, sufficient and sustainable. An annual escalator will include population growth, inflation, aging, and will be indexed to match per capita provincial/territorial health enrichment adjusted for higher First Nations need.


The First Nations view of a health system encompasses all relevant health needs to their membership living off reserve, and a seamless provision of health services within First Nation communities regardless of jurisdiction. Innovative models of integrated care must be developed, and all governments must acknowledge the principal role of First Nation governments in delivering primary and continuing health care services.


Investments are recommended in cultural competency, accreditation of First Nation training institutions, partnership development, academic standards, new education opportunities including innovative approaches to providing community‐based training and school counseling. Traditional medicine should be promoted, and the practice protected.


The health system vision includes an integrated, comprehensive, public health system that promotes and protects health, prevents injury and disease and responds to on‐reserve public health emergencies. Achieving this vision requires a broader constitutional and statutory framework that will entrench First Nation activities in public health.


Addressing chronic disease, restoring mental well‐being, and ensuring children receive all of the services they need for comprehensive care will require action on many fronts, from sustainable health promotion programming to the implementation of the Mental Wellness Strategy Action Plan and an integrated approach to social development and the determinants of health within a population health framework.


First Nations perspectives must be considered in the work to create national health infostructure, participating as full partners and recognizing First Nations jurisdiction over information concerning their populations. The development of the First Nations Health Infostructure (FNHI) will be driven by the needs of individual First Nation community health systems and of First Nation authorities and organizations.



• Affirm First Nation rights to advance First Nation health systems that are culturally appropriate and effective.
• Secure agreement from Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments to dedicate efforts and resources in order to achieve a First Nation controlled and sustainable health system that adopts a holistic and culturally appropriate approach.
• Active inclusion of First Nations in all discussions pertaining to the 2014 renewal of the Health Accord, to ensure First Nation interests are adequately and appropriately reflected.


• Fully articulate, map‐out and clarify First Nation and Federal, Provincial and Territorial responsibilities and relationships with regards to the provision of health services to resolve jurisdictional impediments to the provision of appropriate and seamless health service delivery.
• Exploration of new arrangements that support a seamless health care system while supporting the gradual assumption of control and jurisdiction.
• Establish multi‐partite or multi‐jurisdictional forums to address integration.
• Improve coordination and effective intergovernmental cooperation and partnership.
• Develop and implement protocols on health information data collection and management that reflect OCAP principles.

By 2017

• Services and programs better reflect First Nation rights and health needs, priorities, interests and matters.
• Delivering sustainable, fair and equitable funding for First Nation health services. • First Nations have access/ownership/control of information to be able to advocate healthneeds, priorities, interests and matters.
• Stakeholders have the tools and the opportunities to better address First Nation health needsand priorities.


Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and First Nation partners, as well as other government departments and provincial/territorial (PT) representatives, developed a long term comprehensive social development policy framework to support the renewal of the Department’s social development policy and program authorities in 2006. This policy development work was undertaken under the auspices of the First Nations/INAC Policy Advisory Group (FNIPAG).

From the outset, FNIPAG took the view that structural and meaningful change would be required if major headway was going to be made on the entrenched social problems facing many of First Nations. The data on the depth and breadth of the social issues confronting First Nations is well known – levels of child and family poverty many times the Canadian average; exceptionally high incidences of First Nation children‐in‐care, family violence, drug abuse and youth suicides; and chronic dependence on income assistance. Statistics and research demonstrate that the current suite of social programs and services does not meet First Nation needs, nor do the programs adequately respond to the socio‐economic challenges faced by First Nation people or meet the basic services and standards that are provided in other Canadian communities. In order to increase the economic and social participation and quality of life of First Nation people, fundamental changes are required to address the root causes and structural barriers that have impeded progress to date.

The following is the proposed long‐term vision for federal social development policy and programs:

“Healthy, safe and sustainable First Nation communities by way of an inclusive, holistic andculturally‐based social development system that promotes control and jurisdiction.”

This vision is First Nation‐centered in that it recognizes first and foremost the needs, concerns and aspirations of First Nations. It recognizes that for First Nations an inclusive, holistic approach and culture relevance are the foundations for good programming and service delivery.

As the goals and principles make clear, this vision is not of a separate and distinct First Nation social development system. Rather the vision is one of an ongoing partnership between First Nations and the Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments that would see services harmonized so that First Nation citizens can access the services they need in an integrated and seamless fashion.

The following social development policy goals have been developed with three primary considerations in mind. First, the goals need to be comprehensive so that when taken together they provide a basis for achieving the overall policy vision. Second, the goals need to be measurable so that key results and indicators can be defined and progress monitored and evaluated. Third, the goals should be ambitious ones. Social problems in many First Nations are acute and long standing and require concerted action. Moreover, time is of the essence. The implications of the youth demographic in First Nations are clear.   Without concerted action, Canada risks having another generation of First Nation citizens carrying a third‐world‐like burden of social disadvantage.

Read More … Download PDF: www.crownfirstnationgathering.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2012%20First%20Nations%20Plan_EN%20web.pdf


Concurrent Session – Strengthening the Relationship and Enabling Opportunities

The theme of this session is designed to focus on the Treaty relationship as well as other Crown-First Nations relationships set through modern agreement and those advancing Aboriginal title.  The objective of this session is to identify key steps to strengthen, affirm and advance the relationship to enable progress.

Concurrent Session – Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies

The theme of this session focusses on practical measures needed to implement and advance First Nation governments and unlock economic potential. Key land issues, economic development and partnerships will be discussed.

Concurrent Session – Realizing the Promise of First Nation Peoples

The theme of this session will enable focus on education, health and housing, as well as language and culture – the essential components of securing safe communities and offering hope and opportunity for all First Nations peoples.