GOVERNANCE NEGOTIATIONS

 aLoon“The Anishinabek Nation is dedicated to the rebuilding of traditional governance in our Anishinabek Nation government and community governments, including the redefinition of community governments as determined by each individual community through development of their own, ratified, community constitutions and the establishment of a central communal government of the Anishinabek Nation, whose powers and responsibilities are defined by the community governments through the development of a ratified, Anishinabek Nation Constitution…”

Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, Article 10 of the “Political Manifesto of the Anishinabek Nation,” – June 2006

The Anishinabek Chiefs-in-Assembly has long endeavoured to assert the inherent rights and re-establish the jurisdiction of the Anishinabek Nation. In 1995, the Anishinabek Grand Council issued a mandate to negotiate Canada’s recognition of Anishinabek First Nation jurisdiction. Presently, the Anishinabek Nation is involved in a negotiation process with Canada regarding certain aspects of governance. The negotiated agreement on governance supports and advances our nation’s vision.

R. Martin Bayer, a citizen of Aundeck Omni Kaning, is the Chief Negotiator for the Anishinabek Nation. In his presentation to First Nation Chiefs and Councils, Bayer outlines how the Anishinabek Nation Agreement-in-Principle With Respect to Governance (“AIP on Governance”) will help our communities.

“Studies show that jurisdiction, cultural match, effective governing institutions and strategic planning made a big difference in turning things around for some Indian Nations. Without jurisdiction, someone else is making the big decisions for you. This lack of decision-making power encourages dependency and discourages long-term strategic thinking and planning. Also, our governments must have legitimacy and the trust of the people. This means that governing institutions – like constitutions, election codes, and dispute resolution tribunals – need to match the culture of the people and the rules about how things are done need to be stable and fair. With effective governance, we can attract investments in our communities by governments, businesses, and especially, our own people.”

The Framework Agreement on Governance was signed November 26, 1998 and the AIP on Governance was signed February 16, 2007. The AIP on Governance will guide the negotiation of a final agreement. The AIP on Governance is not legally binding. Only a final agreement would be legally binding when voted on and accepted by the Anishinaabe people in community referenda.

In the AIP on Governance, sections 8-14 and sections 74-80 of the Indian Act are discussed. These sections deal with matters such as Band lists, notice of Band lists, inquiries, protests, and Chief and Band Council elections. If the people eventually ratify an Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Governance, these sections of the Indian Act would no longer apply to the First Nations that are parties to an Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Governance.

The AIP on Governance sets out:

  • The establishment and recognition of two levels of government – one at the First Nation level and one at the Anishinabek Nation government level;
  • Law-making powers for First Nations and the Anishinabek Nation to preserve, promote and develop the use of Anishinabek culture and language;
  • Law-making powers for First Nations and the Anishinabek Nation to select our leaders;
  • Law-making powers for First Nations to determine its citizenship;
  • Law-making powers for First Nations and the Anishinabek Nation with respect to the management and operation of our governments;
  • That other law-making powers may be negotiated as required;
  • The development of constitutions at both the First Nation level and the Anishinabek Nation government level; and
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will apply to each Participating First Nation Government and the Anishinabek Nation Government.

Further, the AIP on Governance states that:

  • The Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Governance will set out the relationship among the First Nation laws, Anishinabek Nation laws and the laws of Canada and Ontario; and
  • The Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Governance will set out the application and priority of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The AIP on Governance and the Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Governance will not limit or take away any Aboriginal or treaty rights of our First Nations and are not intended to be any interpretation of our inherent right of self-government. The fiduciary relationship between Canada and the First Nations will continue and any change to the fiduciary obligations of Canada must be agreed to by the First Nations.

The Anishinabek Nation maintained self-sufficient governments with sustainable economies, distinctive languages and diverse cultures within a defined territory prior to the establishment of Canada. The Anishinabek Nation has never given up its inherent right to govern itself. This inherent right to self-government exists independent of the self-government negotiations with Canada.

The current self-government negotiations on governance are intended to implement certain aspects of the inherent right of self-government as it relates to governance and governance structures. This Agreement in Principal (AIP) and the Final Agreement are not intended to be an exhaustive or complete implementation or interpretation of the inherent right of self-government.