Leaked memo reveals plan to overhaul First Nations governance
Canada in focus ⬿

Leaked memo reveals plan to overhaul First Nations governance

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John Ahni Schertow
March 5, 2009
 

Last month APTN broke a story about the Canadian government’s secret plan to “quietly” overhaul First Nations governance, without any “extensive or time-consuming engagement with First Nations.” The plan is in effect a re-write of the First Nations Governance Act, which sought to break down the few remaining barriers separating Indigenous People from the Canadian Citizenry.

According to a Secret Memorandum to Cabinet (link below) that APTN obtained last month, the Canadian Government is preparing to initiate a “new policy” that will aim to “foster and support democratic, accountable, and effective First Nations Governments” by shifting “the focus of Indian Government Support away from program delivery and toward Core Governance.”

In more transparent terms, Canada will attempt to increase its control of First Nations leadership – for instance, through “ensuring secret ballot elections and allowing all off-reserve members to vote,” notes the Globe and Mail – and bring accountability to Ottawa rather than to the community, where it should first and foremost exist.

A summary of the Draft policy states that “the new program would not be optional in nature.”

While there are numerous problems and concerns surrounding First Nations governance – problems that stem back to the 1940s, when Canada abolished traditional indigenous leadership and introduced the band council system – it is not reasonable or acceptable or even legal for Canada to push forward any changes that effect indigenous people without consultation and according to international law, their informed consent.

Moreover, the very existence of this memo and draft proposal accompanying it, is a political farce that overall fits perfectly with Canada’s long-held Canadian Dream: to obliterate the social, cultural, and political identity of Indigenous People.

Make no mistake, that is what the “new policy” is about. Not merely an attempt to bring accountability to Band Councils, and such glorious colonial enhancements as private home ownership – but to bring finality to the age-old “Indian Problem.”

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