The Anishinabek Nation, which represents 40 member First Nations from across Ontario, is currently involved in sectorial Self-Government negotiations with the Federal Government of Canada. The Restoration of Jurisdiction (ROJ) Department was mandated by the Anishinabek Grand Council Chiefs-in-Assembly Resolution #95/25 to lead the negotiation process.
The Anishinabek Nation has been negotiating with the Government of Canada under the federal Aboriginal Self-Government policy also known as the “Inherent Right” policy, to restore jurisdiction in several areas including, but not limited to: governance, education, social services, justice, economic development and health. The Anishinabek Nation has been negotiating with the Federal Government of Canada for over eighteen (18) years.
Over the years from 2002-2005, development workshops were held to gain community feedback. Participants raised general comments about First Nations not being able to determine their own citizenship. In 2006, a conference workshop focusing specifically on Membership was held; Anishinabek First Nation citizens recognized they cannot thrive within the confines of the Indian Act as it controlled every aspect of their livelihood since 1876. Anishinabek First Nations stated they were fed up with being controlled by the Indian Act.
In June 2007, the Anishinabek Chiefs-in-Assembly Resolution #2007/03 mandated the ROJ department to lead the initiative on law development under the guidance of Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell, who was appointed to Anishinabek Nation Citizenship Commissioner.
Anishinabek First Nations have dealt with citizenship and other related issues since time immemorial. Anishinabek First Nation jurisdiction regarding citizenship is a practice, custom, and traditional integral to our distinctive culture and as such it is an Aboriginal right.
The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees that all peoples have the right of self-determination. The determination of the Indian status and membership arbitrarily set out in the Indian Actis contrary to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of which Canada is a signatory to.
The Chiefs-in-Assembly rejected the Government of Canada’s unilateral definition and control over the definition of “status Indian” and asserts that our Aboriginal rights include jurisdiction of Anishinabek Nation citizenship, which rests solely with the Anishinabek Nation.
Anishinabek First Nation citizens have stated over the years that, “We have the right to determine our own people” and the government should not have the legislative authority to dictate who is “Indian” and who is not.
Implementing the Anishinabek Declaration of 1980
The principles below we have agreed upon;
- We are Nations. We have always been Nations.
- As Nations, we have inherent rights which have never been given up.
- We have the right to our own forms of government.
- We have the right of self-determination.
- We, through our governments, shall have full control of our land. “Land” includes water, air, minerals, timber and wildlife.
- We wish to remain within Canada, but within a revised constitutional framework.
- The negotiations to revise the Canadian Constitution shall have full and equal Indian involvement at all levels and stages of negotiations.
- The rights of Indian Nations as Nation must be entrenched and protected in the Canadian Constitution. These rights include aboriginal rights.
- In the Treaties, our Nations placed themselves under the protection of the Crown. While, in establishing this protectorate relationship, they share some of their powers, they did not give up or surrender their sovereignty.
- Our Treaty rights must be entrenched and protected in the Canadian Constitution.
- We seek to end our economic dependence on others. To this, we need enough land and resources to provide an economic base for the present and future.
- Our governments have the right to share in all the revenues from this and its resources. A sound financial base is required for the full operation of any government.
- Neither the federal government of Canada nor any provincial government shall unilaterally affect the rights of our Nations or our citizens.