Canada and Anishinabek First Nations sign historic self-government agreement
OTTAWA (April 6, 2022) – The Government of Canada is working with First Nation partners to restore respectful nation-to-nation relationships, recognize their inherent right to self-determination and support communities as they move out from under the Indian Act and transition to self-government.
Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, joined Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Chief Lloyd Myke of Magnetawan First Nation, Gimaa Kwe Rhonda Williams-Lovett of Moose Deer Point First Nation, Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation, Chief Larry Roque of Wahnapitae First Nation and Chief Irene Kells of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation at a virtual ceremony to celebrate the signing of the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement.
The Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement is the first self-government agreement of its kind in Ontario and marks an important step away from the Indian Act for the signatory Anishinabek First Nations.
Achieved through over 20 years of negotiation, this historic Agreement will recognize Anishinabek control over governance and the law-making powers of the signatory First Nations in key areas. The First Nations will make their own decisions about how their elections will be held, who their citizens are and how their governments will operate, as well as how best to protect and promote Anishinaabe language and culture. Once in effect, the parts of the Indian Act that deal with governance will no longer apply to the signatory Anishinabek First Nations.
“Congratulations to the Anishinabek leadership and all those who worked for so long at the negotiating table and through community outreach to bring this historic Agreement to life. This Agreement will help revitalize traditional Anishinaabe governance and renew our nation-to-nation relationship with the signatory Anishinabek First Nations. We look forward to continuing to work together with Anishinabek partners on all our shared priorities, to implement their inherent right to self-determination and support their inspiring visions of a better future for their citizens.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“Congratulations to the First Nations signing the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement today and I commend all of the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of those involved to reach this historic moment. The Governance Agreement is another instrument available to us to implement inherent jurisdictions and Anishinaabe laws in fundamental matters that are the pillars of our First Nation governments: citizenship, language and culture, and how we select our leaders and are accountable to their citizens. The new government-to-government fiscal transfer removes these First Nations from those specific confines of the Indian Act and supports these First Nations to determine their respective priorities.”
Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Anishinabek Nation
“Anishinaabe Governance is the legacy that E’dbendaagzijig today will be leaving to future generations: the ability to govern ourselves and determine what is best for our community. This will be achieved through a community-driven process of law development — relevant and unique to Moose Deer Point.”
Gimaa Kwe Rhonda Williams-Lovett, Moose Deer Point First Nation
“For Wahnapitae First Nation, the signing of this Agreement is another important step on a very long path; one which our members have been traveling since the Creator placed the Anishinaabe on Mother Earth. With the momentum of one step, we take the next, and we do so with the knowledge and the wisdom of our people carrying us all forward. Today, we are very pleased to continue along this journey as we look to exercise our inherent right to self-governance.”
Chief Larry Roque, Wahnapitae First Nation
“As our Nations strive to reassume our rightful jurisdictions over our own governance, the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement provides us with a tool to remove ourselves from sections of the Indian Act, freeing us to govern and protect our elections, language and culture, citizenship, and management and operations. This is a positive step towards self-government.”
Chief Scott McLeod, Nipissing First Nation
“Governance to Magnetawan Anishinabek is the next step forward in exercising our inherent right to govern ourselves, and position our community and membership in creating our Supreme Laws.”
Chief Lloyd Myke, Magnetawan First Nation
“This Agreement is one for our history books. It will help us build new relationships within our community. We need to keep Anishinaabemowin alive in order for us to connect with our surroundings and be proud of who we are.”
Chief Irene Kells, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation
- Self-government negotiations with the Anishinabek Nation on governance began in 1995, led to an Agreement-in-Principle in 2007 and concluded in 2019.
- Over the past two years, the Agreement was approved by the citizens of each signatory First Nation through a community vote.
- This followed extensive community outreach during this period as well as engagement with Anishinabek citizens during the negotiations.
- Now that the Agreement is signed, the next step is federal legislation to bring the Agreement into effect.
- The signatory First Nations (who comprise the Anishinabek Nation Government) will also need to pass their own Anishinabek laws to create and run their new governance system.
- This work will be supported by increased funding to the First Nations to carry out their new responsibilities and invest in community priorities for a better future.
- This is not the first self-government agreement negotiated with the Anishinabek Nation. In 2018, the parties concluded a self-government agreement on education that is now in effect for 23 Anishinabek First Nations in Ontario.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada