The Economic Partnerships portfolio focuses on Economic Development, Resource Revenue Sharing options, Labour Force and Human Resources Development, Connectivity, and proposes increased activity on building revenue options. In the past several years, Chiefs-in-Assembly have passed national resolutions on the importance of resource revenue sharing and encouraging new investments to promote each of these focus areas. In line with revenue options and revenue sharing, the Chiefs-in-Assembly have also called for support toward specific First Nations gaming structures being coordinated in regions.
As per Resolutions 02/2010 and 80/2011 on Economic Development, the AFN continues working on resource revenue options, green economy, inter-nation trade, procurement, broadband and high speed internet, and a five-year poverty study.
Resource Revenue Sharing
With the benefit of Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED) consideration, a Working Group on Natural Resource Development was proposed to examine and build recommendations that will support First Nation participation in natural resource development projects. The working group will endeavour to identify ways to ensure that First Nations are positioned to participate in major resource projects, with a focus on the federal role. The working group itself has the latitude to select specific areas of study within these broad parameters. As part of its outreach, their plan is to collect views from First Nations, government, elected officials, industry, financial representatives, academics, and others.
The Working Group has met to begin orientation of the span of resource development issues and work currently underway and will begin to request meetings with First Nation leadership in regions.
First Nations and the Energy Sector
The Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED) recommended during that work begin on exploring First Nations participation in, and benefits from, the energy sector. In addition, the AFN Executive Committee suggested an initial discussion be planned among leaders on energy issues.
As such, the CCED hosted a preparatory session to discuss the energy sector broadly as it relates to First Nations’ priorities. The preparatory session was followed by a December 2013 Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) panel discussion of similar issues, challenges and priorities, to help inform the CCED in its preliminary planning.
Research Supporting First Nations Economic Policy
With decreased organizational funding, a number of areas including economic research and analysis on First Nations trade and investment activity, procurement approaches and improvements, investment tools, and other economic incentives have been affected. As such, research continues at a slower pace on a number of these areas. Next steps on AFN-led research on the “Public Sector Procurement in Canada: Possible Actions to Increase First Nations Opportunities and Benefits” report, “Improving Access to Bonding Instruments by First Nations Businesses”, and “Trade and Export in Today’s First Nations” will need to be examined as funding or other technical assistance becomes available. Other strategic efforts for the Chiefs Committee on Economic Development’s (CCED) immediate consideration shall continue to be researched.
Poverty Action Research Project (PAR Project)
The AFN, through the Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED), has established a Make Poverty History Expert Advisory Committee. As part of its activity, the committee has been successful in obtaining a five-year research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH).
The PAR Project identified five volunteer First Nation communities in different parts of Canada who are interested in working with the Research Team. This involves designing and implementing a strategic plan to help create a sustainable economic base, reduce poverty, and improve the health and well-being of community members. The communities participating in the PAR Project have completed activity that includes establishing local advisory committees, put in place key researchers, begun to gather base level data and information, and have drafted community profiles.
Additional Economic Considerations and Portfolios
There are additional areas of policy and advocacy focus that includes First Nations economic considerations however it should be noted that the activities in these areas are limited due to a lack of resources.
AFN resolutions mandate the AFN to pursue advocacy efforts on the taxation portfolio including regional and national coordination, monitoring court cases, developing a strategic plan to support First Nations and protection of First Nations tax immunity and tax rights building on the positive outcomes in Bastien and Dubè cases, the development of a legal strategy, and to identify key next steps with First Nations leadership.
The AFN works with the CCED and Ad-hoc Advisory Group on Taxation (AAGT) to stay apprised of regional taxation issues and concerns and is also in the process of exploring a national conference on taxation, revenue options, and resource development. The event would include issues related to tax immunity, current status of case law, governance systems, fiscal matters and revenue options. The AFN is currently seeking funding for this event.
There are a number of AFN resolutions mandating policy and advocacy efforts on the Gaming portfolio. The portfolio overall remains an unfunded policy activity at the AFN and this has limited the activity in the portfolio as it relates to national discussions or strategic initiatives. Areas of focus and interest include increasing respect for First Nations rights to administer gaming activity; firmly establish First Nation jurisdiction as it relates to First Nations gaming, and to consider a national gaming strategy.
Organizational sustainability is an area of focus and coordination within AFN Economic Partnerships. The CCED is currently reviewing process and objectives in relation to corporate relationships and partnerships.
National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) Trust
The AFN provides policy and coordination support to the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) Trust. Work is being undertaken to develop a strategy and plan for the Trust as well as to secure short term resources to enable operation of the Trust.
For more information on these initiatives, please contact:
Director, Safe, Secure and Sustainable Communities
Assembly of First Nations
55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1600