June 23, 2021: “The Ill-Fitting Boot: Origin and Content of the Indian Act”
A 150-year-old law designed for assimilation – the Indian Act - continues to govern the relationship between Canada and First Nation peoples. Although it has been amended and added to over time, it lingers as an impediment to self-determination and reconciliation. It still treats individuals as wards of the state, imposes ill-fitting governance on communities, subverts accountability between First Nations leaders and citizens, and is wholly inadequate for the exercise of self-government. Join our panel of expert partners in the RFNG project on June 23, 2021 at noon ET to learn more about the Act, its impacts, and more importantly, how to get beyond it.
Effective self-governance is critical to the survival, health and well-being of First Nations people. It is a central pillar in reconciliation and in the creation of a new nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown. It is crucial to the long-term governance of Canada.
This will be the third in our series of five one-hour webinars in 2021 exploring the themes behind Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) – a First Nations community-led, multi-partner, SSHRC-funded research project to find pathways out of the Indian Act and into exercising the inherent right of First Nations to self-government.
This series will be of primary interest to First Nations leaders, administrators, and citizens who want to learn about their inherent rights; how the Indian Act obstructs their ability to develop effective self-governance and take their rightful place as citizens within their own nations and within Canada; and the power that First Nations citizens have to transform the way their nation is governed.
These webinars will also be of interest to other levels of government and all those interested in learning more about the systemic issues behind present day challenges in Crown-First Nations relationships and are willing to explore and support alternatives for true reconciliation.
Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) is a national alliance of First Nation communities and Tribal Councils, academic researchers and public sector practitioners created to support First Nations leadership and rights holders that have made the decision to transition out from under the Indian Act to their own inherent rights governance. This six-year applied action research project is supported by a $2.5M SSHRC Partnership Grant.
Through a process of community-led research, reflection and action, the project aims to help communities replace the Indian Act with effective and legitimate First Nation governance based on the strategic direction of the community. The research emerges from the priorities identified by the rights holders – the people. It will help Nations reclaim Indigenous forms of decision-making and revitalize Indigenous governance practices.
Led by project co-founders Satsan (Centre for First Nations Governance), Frances Abele (Carleton University) and Catherine MacQuarrie, RFNG includes partnerships with six First Nations and two Tribal Councils, six Canadian universities, three non-governmental organizations including the Institute of Public Administration Canada (IPAC) and 35 academic researchers and practitioners.
The five-part webinar series scheduled over 2021 will explore the underlying themes of the project and the work with First Nations communities that are on the path to exercising their inherent right to self-government. The sessions are hosted by Institute of Public Administration of Canada. The scheduled dates and topics are:
1. March 3: “A dream of our people for going on eight generations”
2. April 28: The five pillars of the Inherent Right to Self-Government
(both available now at https://carleton.ca/rfng/webinar-series/)
3. June 23: The “ill-fitting boot” – the origin and content of the Indian Act
4. September 22: It’s A “Full Box”. The Historical Struggle for Recognition of Aboriginal And Treaty Rights
5. November 17: From theory to practice: Principles and Strategies for Implementing the Inherent Right to Self-government
Satsan (Herb George), Project Co-Director, Centre for First Nations Governance
Satsan is one of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs of the Frog Clan and a long-time Speaker for the Wet’suwet’en Nation. He has over 40 years of experience working towards recognition and respect for the inherent right to self-government in the courts, classrooms, and communities. Early in his career, Satsan was a key figure and strategist in the Delgamuukw-Gisdayway decision which ruled, for the first time, that Aboriginal Title and rights exist in law and are recognized and protected under section 35. Following the decision, Satsan went on to serve two terms as elected regional chief, representing BC at the Assembly of First Nations. He has lent his expertise to build educational programming around Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the inherent right to self-government in universities across Canada. In 2005, Satsan founded and became President of the National Centre for First Nations Governance (now the Centre for First Nations Governance). Today, Satsan is leading a collaboration between the Centre (where he continues to serve as Senior Associate), the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration – the Transitional Governance Program. The Project provides strategic direction and directs applied research and analysis to support First Nations governments who are working to leave behind Indian Act administration.
Frances Abele, Project Director, Carleton University
Frances Abele is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Academic Director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Fellow of the Centre for Governance and Public Management, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Public Policy. She is adjunct professor in the doctoral program in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Dr. Abele is a former director of the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton. During 1992-96, she was seconded to the research directorate at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, where she was responsible for research and policy on the North and some of the Commission’s work on governance. A political scientist born in Alberta, Dr. Abele attended the University of Calgary, University of Toronto and York University. She has worked with Indigenous peoples all over Canada and in some parts of the circumpolar Arctic for most of her career. Her research has focused on northern economic and political development, Aboriginal self-government, policy and programs important to Aboriginal people living in cities, policy and program evaluation, qualitative research and citizen engagement. Besides her academic publications, Abele has published research reports with the National Centre for First Nations Governance, Canadian Policy Research Networks, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. She is currently a member of the editorial boards of two academic journals: Aboriginal Policy Studies, and Canadian Public Administration, and is spearheading two First Nations governance research initiatives.
Terry Poucette, Team Lead, Indigenous Relations Office, City of Calgary
Terry Poucette is from the Stoney-Nakoda First Nations of Treaty Seven in Alberta. Terry was raised on reserve by strong Stoney women in her family who taught her Nakoda culture and language. While colonization has impacted education levels in First Nation communities, Terry admires their intellect and capability and believes that First Nations public administrations should be exclusively managed by Indigenous people. This conviction led Terry to pursue an education and career in First Nations public administration. Terry has a BA in First Nations studies, a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in public administration. For her dissertation, Terry researched good First Nations governance. This gave her the opportunity to learn from First Nation leaders, administrators, Elders and community members about the successes and challenges of First Nations public administration under an Indian Act regime. What Terry learned informed the title of her dissertation report: Effective First Nations Governance: Navigating the Legacy of Colonization.
Terry has spent most of her career as a senior manager of on-reserve First Nations organizations in Alberta and BC. After she got her doctorate, Terry was an assistant teaching professor and manager of the Diploma in Indigenous Community Development and Governance at the University of Victoria. She is currently the Team Lead for the Indigenous Relations Office, City of Calgary. Terry is passionate about the need for First Nations to transition out of the Indian Act and implement their inherent right to self-governance. She believes that post secondary programs should support the management and leadership capacity that Indigenous people need to effectively run their administrations and prepare for self-governance. Terry works to educate the public about the harmful Indian Act and its impact on First Nations governance through publications and presentations. Her research is focused on ways that First Nations can leave the Indian Act and implement their inherent right to self-governance.
Dwayne Nashkawa, Strategic Advisor, Nipissing First Nation
Dwayne Nashkawa has been the Chief Executive Officer and now Strategic Advisor of Nipissing First Nation, located on the shores of Lake Nipissing in northern Ontario, since January 2004. He has spent his career working in First Nations in senior roles in the areas of natural resources development, treaty research, governance, and administration. Dwayne has led various tripartite negotiations including the Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement and the development of the Anishinabek/Ontario Resource Management Council. While at Nipissing, Dwayne has led the development of numerous private business relationships and has participated in various community development initiatives including the NFN Constitution and Financial Administration Law. He also participated as a negotiation team member on Nipissing First Nation’s boundary claim settlement. Dwayne also led the design of the NFN Boundary Claim Trust to ensure that it suited the long term needs of the nation for generations to come. Dwayne is a member of the Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation located in southwestern Ontario and is the proud father of three.
Naiomi Metallic, Professor Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Naiomi is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa), an LLM (Osgoode) and PhD (Alberta – in progress). As of June 2016, she is full-time faculty at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University and she holds the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being of Indigenous peoples in Canada and conveying this information in accessible ways.