Assembly of First Nations Bulletin
First Nations from across Canada gathered in Treaty 6 Territory May 1 and 2, 2019 to discuss the barriers First Nations face in implementing their Treaty rights, inherent rights, title and jurisdiction.
The Four Polices and Nation Building Policy Forum was convened by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) following direction from Chiefs-in-Assembly. Resolution 67/2018, Rejection of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and Associated Processes directed AFN to hold a forum to facilitate discussion and establish First Nations principles to form the basis of an approach with the federal government.
This discussion and dialogue-based policy forum provided an opportunity for First Nations leaders, citizens, Elders and youth to discuss a path forward and the tools required to implement and enforce rights, title and jurisdiction. Many concerns were raised by delegates and other First Nations citizens and groups. Major themes include the fact that only First Nations rights and title holders can and should identify their own path forward to implement their rights and that any approach forward together with the federal government must be led by First Nations and fully respect First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction. Comments were unified among all groups and echo discussions from the September 2018 AFN National Policy Forum on Affirming First Nations Rights, Title and Jurisdiction.
During the Forum, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett announced that the federal government has heard First Nations voices and concerns and has stopped their Rights Framework process. Agreeing to a First Nations rights and Treaty holders-led process, the federal government has now backed away from a June deadline for this work and clearly stated that any new policies will be anchored in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and co-developed with rights holders. There is now an opportunity for First Nations to direct the path forward to rebuild nations, implement Treaties and exert jurisdiction to develop their own laws to truly move beyond the Indian Act.
Minister Bennett also highlighted commitments made in Budget 2019 for Specific Claims research and acknowledged the ongoing call for a fully independent specific claims process while committing an additional $1.5 million dollars to support engagement with First Nations.
AFN will prepare a full report on the Forum for presentation at the AFN Annual General Assembly in Fredericton, New Brunswick July 23-25, 2019. All Forum materials, presentations and Resolutions are available at www.afn.ca or by request. Watch full footage of the Forum webcast here: https://www.afn.ca/national-policy-forum-2019/.