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Update on AFN-Canada Specific Claims Co-Development Process

Press Release

Update on AFN-Canada Specific Claims Co-Development Process

SUMMARY:

  • Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Regional Chief, Nova Scotia / Newfoundland Paul Prosper and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller attended a public ceremony on November 3, 2022 to launch the co-development of an independent specific claims process.
  • Specific claims deal with First Nations grievances against the Crown and arise where Canada is deemed to have failed to meet its obligations under Treaties or other agreements, or in how it has managed First Nations funds and assets. First Nations have advocated for a fully independent specific claims process for generations.
  • The AFN and the Government of Canada will work through the Specific Claims Implementation Working Group (SCIWG) to develop reform options for consideration by Federal Cabinet, including a consensus-based independent centre for the resolution of specific claims. The AFN anticipates that the SCIWG will present reform options to Federal Cabinet by Winter 2024.

Specific Claims Co-Development Process

On November 3, 2022 Regional Chief Prosper and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller attended a public ceremony to launch the co-development of an independent specific claims process. This ceremony marked the formal launch of the Specific Claims Implementation Working Group (SCIWG).

The AFN and the Government of Canada will work through the SCIWG to develop reform options for consideration by Federal Cabinet, including a consensus-based independent centre for the resolution of specific claims. A series of technical task groups will assist the SCIWG in the development of reform options. The AFN anticipates that the SCIWG will present reform options to Federal Cabinet by Winter 2024.

Background

Specific claims deal with First Nations grievances against the Crown and arise where Canada is deemed to have failed to meet its obligations under Treaties or other agreements, or in how it has managed First Nations funds and assets. Currently, the Government of Canada is the defendant yet controls funding, the review and acceptance of claims, as well as access to negotiations and evidence. For generations, First Nations have called for the elimination of this unacceptable conflict of interest and the establishment of a fully independent specific claims process.

The AFN and the Government of Canada have worked together through the Specific Claims Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) to address longstanding First Nations’ concerns with Canada’s Specific Claims Policy and process since 2016. At the Annual General Assembly in 2017, First Nations-in-Assembly passed AFN Resolution 91/2017 Support for a Fully Independent Specific Claims Process. This resolution supports the work of the JTWG and calls on Canada to address its conflict of interest within the process through “a fully independent specific claims process”.

AFN First Nations-in-Assembly passed Resolution 09/2020 which calls on the Government of Canada to work in coordination with the AFN and the Chiefs Committee on Lands, Territories and Resources to develop a fully independent specific claims process consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and based on the following principles identified by First Nations during the 2019 AFN dialogue process:

  • The Honour of the Crown: The specific claims process must be consistent with the Honour of the Crown.
  • Independence of all Aspects of Claims Resolution: Specifically including funding and oversight of claims and their resolution that must be handled independent of Canada.
  • Recognition of Indigenous Laws: The recognition of First Nations’ laws may impact the conduct of adjudication, dispute resolution and negotiation.
  • No Arbitrary Limits on Compensation: There will be no financial constraints on settlements, such as the $150-million cap on the jurisdiction of the Tribunal or the Commission.

For more information, please contact Aaron Asselstine, Director, Lands Sector at [email protected] or Jesse Donovan, Senior Policy Analyst, Lands Sector at [email protected].

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