Minister Jim Prentice and Grand Council Chief John Beaucage sign the Agreement-in-Principle respecting Governance. Witnesses, standing behind the leaders were Minister Tony Clement and Chief Patrick Madahbee.
NIPISSING FIRST NATION (February 16, 2007) – The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Anishinabek Nation Grand
Council Chief John Beaucage, today signed a Governance Agreement-in-Principle (AIP). The AIP establishes a framework for the Anishinabek Nation, represented in the negotiations by the Union of Ontario Indians, to assume greater control over its own institutions of government.
“Canada’s New Government is committed to working with First Nations to support stronger First Nation governments as a key step in improving the lives of First Nation people,” said Minister Prentice. “This important agreement sets the groundwork for participating First Nations to adopt new governance institutions and structures that are more responsive and more accountable to their communities.”
“The AIP on Governance is one step toward eliminating the Indian Act, re-asserting our jurisdiction, and re-establishing our own Anishinaabe forms of government,” said Grand Council Chief Beaucage, who represents the forty-plus member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation. “We look forward to completing these negotiations and forging new relationships with Canada that provide practical and effective ways to implement our inherent right to self-government and improve living conditions for our people.”
The Agreement provides the framework for the establishment of the Anishinabek Nation government and for the recognition of First Nation governments with law-making authority in four core governance areas: leadership selection, citizenship, culture and language, and management and operations of government.
The Agreement also reflects the Government of Canada’s support for replacing outdated provisions of the Indian Act with a modern legislative framework for First Nations governance. It provides a practical approach for supporting First Nations to strengthen their internal governance and solidify the political and financial accountability of First Nation governments to their citizens, while operating within the Canadian Constitutional framework.
The Agreement-in-Principle concludes the second of a three-stage negotiation process, and is not legally binding. A Final Agreement becomes legally binding on the parties only once it has been approved by the participating First Nations’ citizens and brought into force through federal legislation. An Anishinabek Nation Framework Agreement on Governance was signed by the parties on November 26, 1998. As negotiations proceeded, the Province of Ontario has been kept apprised of developments.
The Anishinabek Nation and the Government of Canada have also been negotiating toward a “Final Agreement with Respect to the Exercise of Education Jurisdiction.” An Agreement-in-Principal on education was signed by
the parties in 2002.
The UOI is the oldest First Nation political organization in Ontario. It was incorporated as the secretariat arm of the Anishinabek Nation in 1949 and traces its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires which existed long before European contact. The Anishinabek Nation has a population of approximately 50,000 citizens, and comprises one-third of all First Nation communities in Ontario.