Supporting the development of First Nations governance systems.

Our Work We promote Nation-to-Nation and Treaty-based fiscal relationships between First Nations and Canada.

First Nations chiefs know that funding does not keep pace with inflation or the needs of the fastest-growing population in the country, forcing First Nations to try and do more and more with less and less. The AFN’s Fiscal Relations Policy Sector works toward closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and the rest of Canada, and establishing a new, equitable fiscal relationship.

There is vast difference in the quality of life experienced by First Nations people and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Canada ranks 15th on the UN Human Development Index while First Nations rank 35th.

Increasingly, the environment that has sustained First Nations is under threat by outside forces.

First Nations have a deep connection that has sustained us from time immemorial. Environmental legislation and regulations threaten sustainability for everyone.

Almost 97% of First Nations languages in Canada are endangered.

Without funding to bolster the Indigenous Languages Act, only two of 58 languages are expected to survive.

48% of children in foster care are Indigenous while Indigenous people make up only 4.3% of the population.

There are more than 40,000 Indigenous children and youth in foster care — more than three times those in residential schools at the height of the Indian Residential School System.

The life expectancy of First Nations citizens is 5-7 years less than other Canadians.

Tuberculosis rates are 31 times the national average, Indigenous people account for 12.2% of new HIV infections and 8.9% of those living with HIV, and suicide rates are 5-7 times the national average.

Numerous First Nations are currently under boil water advisories.

While a number of these advisories have closed in the past few years, many First Nation water systems are still in high or medium risk.

Overview Working to close the gap for First Nations as they work to build and strengthen Governance Systems.

The co-development process at the Governance and Fiscal Tables advance the following: policy and legislative frameworks, options to be taken to the Chiefs-in-Assembly for a formal decision; advocate the development and support of institutional and administrative capacity supports for First Nations; advocate for sustainable funding in support of self-determination and service transfer to First Nations.

Per Resolution 66/2017, directed AFN-Canada Joint Report on Fiscal Relations, Chiefs-in-Assembly directed the AFN to work with Canada to create a Joint Advisory Committee for: Direction on new fiscal policy framework recommendations on First Nation governance support structure.

Per Resolution 24/2019, Building on thirty years of accumulated work on the fiscal relationship and ongoing discussions with First Nations leaders and technical experts, the Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) presented its report — Honouring our Ancestors by Trailblazing a Path to the Future — to the National Chief and Minister on June 10, 2019.

The Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) released its interim report in June 2019 with wide-ranging recommendations on improving the Nation-to-Nation and Treaty-based fiscal relationships of First Nations and Canada

Initiatives & Priorities The policy areas, initiatives and committees driving the development of First Nations governance systems.

New Fiscal Relations

The New Fiscal Relations Grant Technical Working Group is a co-development process, a direct result from the Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations Report’s recommendations. As of April 2022 the technical working group between the AFN and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) have made it possible for 130 First Nations to opt in to the New Fiscal Relations (NFR) Grant.

The NFR Grant has enabled First Nations to: Improve financial, administrative, and political governance, including more efficient and effective use of existing resources.

Raise governance capacity of First Nations governments, including the ability to acquire and retain high-level personnel. Support the ability of First Nations governments to exercise their jurisdiction to provide essential services to their own citizens.

National Outcomes Based Framework

Based on numerous recommendations to assess and close the socio-economic gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have been working together to develop a National Outcome-Based Framework (NOBF) to measure the socio-economic gaps between First Nations and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) recommends the NOBF be a measurable set of outcomes that can be defined, compared, and acted upon in a coordinated way.

“To ensure mutual accountability for implementing the fiscal relationship and closing socio-economic gaps, First Nations and Canada will need to be committed to truthfully measure and report on the living conditions and socio-economic outcomes of First Nations.”

Preliminary engagement on the NOBF has been undertaken with the AFN, technical experts, government officials, and some regions.

Default Prevention Management Program

The Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) recommends that the Minister abolish the ISC Default Management and Prevention Policy, including the use of third-party managers. The Joint Technical Working Groups are working on a new policy focused on collaboration and capacity support and developing options for new programs to support modern and appropriate governance and capacity development.

A draft policy document has been developed, which reflects the detailed discussions over the past year. AFN continues to meet with ISC to repeal the DPMP policy. Discussions are underway on how the document will be shared more broadly, with possible engagement approaches.

The AFN noted that the repeal of the DPMP was one of the strongest JACFR recommendations, and one of the biggest challenges is not focusing on it’s repeal.

Statistics as of April 2022: 17 First Nations which were in DPMP in December 2018 have adopted NFR Grant (only one remains in DPMP), More than 40 percent of First Nations have expressed interest in NFR Grant. More than 20 percent of First Nations have adopted NFR Grant.

Intergovernmental Affairs

The AFN advocates for the establishment of mechanisms and processes with the Government of Canada and provinces/territories that respect the inherent and Treaty rights, title, and jurisdiction of First Nations.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities, signed in 2017, calls for regular meetings between the AFN and the Government of Canada to discuss key issues and assess progress on shared priorities. The AFN continues bilateral discussions to advance joint priorities and prepare for discussions between the AFN Executive Committee and Federal Ministers.

As a National Indigenous Organization the AFN also actively participates in the Council of the Federation meetings between National Indigenous Organizations, Leaders and Premiers. Such meetings provide an opportunity to advocate and advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or regional nature and concern.

International Affairs

The AFN advances the rights and interests of First Nations internationally by strategically participating in key international fora and events; forging relationships and partnerships with other Indigenous peoples and their organizations and human rights non-governmental organizations; facilitating international political, economic, cultural, and social relationships between First Nations and foreign States; and, seeking to establish working relationships with Canada towards informing their foreign and international policy approaches and objectives on matters of shared interest.

The AFN continues to be involved in several UN-based processes. These include (but are not limited to):

  • the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII);
  • the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development o the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Issues (EMRIP);
  • the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);
  • the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); and o the Human Rights Council (HRC).

Legislative Advocacy

First Nations’ priorities continue to be brought forward in both the House of Commons and the Senate. The Strategic Policy Integration (SPI) Unit within the AFN is responsible for monitoring parliamentary activities and supporting AFN advocacy efforts through the development of appearances in Committees and written submissions.

AFN representatives actively provide written submissions and make appearances at several House of Commons and Senate committees over Parliamentary sessions, advocating for First Nations inherent and Treaty Rights, title and jurisdiction. Monthly updates on Parliamentary activities are provided to the AFN Executive Committee and a summary of AFN’s advocacy in Parliamentary activities is made available twice annually to the First Nations in Assembly.

Policy and Program Development

Changes to policies and programs requires the full participation of First Nations in any matters affecting them. The AFN advocates for the co-development of policies and programs that increase the exercise of inherent and Treaty rights, title, and jurisdiction by First Nations governments. The AFN engages with Canada on several initiatives focused on government accountability and progress towards the transfer of jurisdiction to First Nations.

The AFN continues to work with the First Nations Information Governance Centre, Statistics Canada and Indigenous Services Canada to advance data sovereignty and to improve access to timely, high-quality statistical information that can be utilized and referenced for policy and program development.

Documents The latest resources on this topic.

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These are our latest reports, resolutions and other documents on the subject of Intergovernmental Affairs. To see more documents on this topic, and all other public AFN documents, visit the Document Library.

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