How Indigenous Nations can legally be in control of their Lands through Traditional Governance Tribunals

There are a few ways that Indigenous Nations in Canada can legally be in control of their Lands without Band Councils interference in any type of Land negotiations according to Supreme Court Decisions.
tworowbelt“Thirty-six First Nations in Canada are self-governing,[10] meaning they have either worked out self-governance agreements with the Crown or are not covered by treaty.”


The choice on what you want to do, is up to you and all registered members within your territories.

It’s time to gather the People for their official statements through physical or electronically signed: “OFFICIAL LETTERS OF CONSENT and MANDATE FORMS” by  at least a 51% Consensus by Registered FAMILIES / MEMBERS over 18 yrs. of age within each of our Territories!


Turtle Island Two Row Co-Existence Governance


Traditional Governance Tribunals

The choice of Self-Governance and Self-Determination is


It is extremely important for our Nations to know our legal standing within the Court systems, the way the Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments make their claims to land negotiations and ownership and how the Supreme Court view their Communal, Individual, Self-Governing and Self-Determination Rights in order to fix the wrongs and misinterpretations and mismanagement within the Indian Act., Treaties and Court Cases by officially coming together in asserting our self-governance and self-determinations within our Two Row Co-existence throughout Turtle Island.


Cross Canada Traditional Councils MEETING

The Nova Scotia Assembly – First Nations Meeting – Saturday April 30th, 2016

Indian brook, Nova Scotia (more information to follow)

Nations attend this historical meeting!

Please view interview here:

Trina Roache
APTN National News
The push to revive traditional Indigenous leadership is gaining momentum in the Atlantic region.

With the federal government talking about getting rid of the Indian Act, a hereditary chief says the original governments can pave the way forward.



2: Gary Metallic Sr. C0-Existence Governance

Gary Metallic Sr. –  7th District Gespegawagi Tribal Council – Mi’gmaq Traditional Chief

“In regards to the custom elections, that would not fit our view of how we select our District Tribal council representatives, while going custom you are not directly under the indian act, you are still within reach of canada’s tentacles. Our original District Migmaq Traditional government consists of a District chief, and sub chiefs under me, all were appointed by families or clans appointing their spokespersons to represent them in our govt.

Because of the Quebec superior court challenge on the indian acts defined jurisdiction within reserve boundaries back in 2013 that i spoke to you about, the judge in that case basically gave us instructions on what we had to do the next time we went back to the courts if we were to represent our people and their rights. Because of the Behn case, we need their consent through signed mandates to show that we have those mandates to represent them and their rights, the court did not have a problem recognizing our standing as a life Hereditary Traditional govt, although the band councils lawyer tried to argue that no such systems existed.

Our Recognition as a Mi’gmaq District Tribal council was already tested in 1997 in the supreme court of canada, when we intervened in the Quebec secession case to argue that canada, or Quebec did not have any business deciding if Quebec could separate and claiming all of its so called territory, we said that it belonged to the several nations located in Quebec. Two band councils with the help of indian affairs and their lawyers tried to have our intervention and motion thrown out saying that no such traditional govts existed, and the only recognized indian govts were under the indian act.

Indian affairs provide an affidavit which showed all of the Mi’gmaq band councils within our nation territories, Que, N.B., N.S., P.E.I., and NFLD. The supreme court judges refused their motions to have our standing removed, and said the question of the Life Hereditary systems validity were already settled in the Delgamuuk case where Hereditary chiefs were interveners at that time. So that being said, because of Behn, we need to further solidify our District govt by having our community members sign consent and mandate forms giving us the authority to in our case stop canada’s and the band council comprehensive land claims and self govt negotiations that are pushing for extinguishment and assimilation.

We need a consent form that can be used throughout our 7 Districts, stating that the indian act band councils along with canada are one federal entity, they cannot represent our peoples treaty rights because both were not signatories of our treaties and are in a profound conflict of interest by sitting at these land termination tables as one federal entity.

Our Life Hereditary systems were the only Mi’gmaq Original govts that evolved from our ancestors governing systems who signed the peace and friendship treaties and were wiped out by the introduction of the indian act in the 1800s. Because of the urgency in stopping their extinguishment of titles in their comprehensive land claims and self govt talks, which most are in their final stages, the consent forms will give us the added support required by the courts to start taking over parts of Quebec’s crown lands in our territory by building our longhouse and other buildings needed for ceremonial purposes this summer.

By doing this we are going to short circuit canada’s, Quebec’s, Comprehensive land claims negotiations because Quebec will want to charge us for building on crown lands, but this time we will be ready, we already have the 1997 supreme court recognition of our District govt that Bruce Clark and I filed.”

We have weave all that I said and come up with a consent form that can be used for all, my Quebec superior case, and the Behn case give us a roadmap of what we have to do to close the loopholes required to show that we have the right to represent our people and their rights.

We can I think, easily get more people to sign our consent forms and outnumber the indian act elections votes that gave them the so called majority rules, in our community the votes for chief and council are usually in the 600 range, and the nay votes around 400…plus the people who don’t bother to vote, thats the ones we want..

Gary Metallic Sr.

There are 3 important steps that need to be achieved by the Nations regarding our Registered Band Members over 18yrs of age to sign the Convention of Consent Mandate Forms: 

  1. Organize a registry system for your territory or you can use the e-sign and hand signed registry system offered by the I-acuse, Edu- Sante Research INC. and universalalliace.org
  2. Generate or copy the example letter provided for your use on our website; A Letter of Intent and Notice needs to be formally filed with Band Councils, any other Organization including notifying your intent by showing proof of delivery to those making decisions in your territories by Registered Mail including to the department of  the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
  3. Generate or copy the example letter provided for your use on our website for your Territory Registered members to either electronically ESign or to collect your members hand signed signatures authorizing this mandate to install Traditional tribunals instilling self-governance and self-determination within each of your territories and then across all of Turtle Island: Canada, the USA and Mexico.

Letter of Intent and Notice to implement a territorial “The voice of the People Traditional Tribunal” 


1: Intent and Notice of Traditional Tribunal

traditional tribunal template_Page_1

Click to view the PDF: “Traditional Tribunal” template.

Download  word. docx file: Letter of Intent and Notice to implement a territorial “Traditional Tribunal”

2: Territorial Convention of Consent

Click on the photo to view or download the PDF 

ESign the Form here once your Nation has decided to use an online E-form as well as hand signatures.:

FN Indigenous Self-Determination and Self-Governance and to further instilling a 50/50 “Two Row Living Constitution” Governance and Co-existence Convention of Consent within Canada

This Convention to Self-Determination and Self-Governance was created in order to further facilitate distribution among all Indigenous Nations living within Canada in joining together in asserting their natural status as Original Peoples of Turtle Island prior to the 1867 Canadian Confederation and forced Indian Act of 1876 and to renounce along with the Canadian Citizens, the Papal Bulls and more specifically, the “Inter Caetera Doctrine of Discovery of 1493”.

These Confidential eSign Legal documents or direct hand signed documents registered through the Edu-Sante Research Inc. will take effect as being legally binding once the legal majority of signed signatures has been reached within each Nation/Band as being an official accounting of the official voice of the People within each registered territory.

About signing these documents:

  • It is to each individual’s sole discretion if they so wish to sign these particular documents or not.
  • It is also recommended that these conventions be presented to your People for ACCEPTANCE.
  • It is absolutely recommended that the Nations across Canada support and stand together.
  • It is also necessary for the Canadian Citizens to also support the Nations and vice versa in order to rectify the wrongs, disrespecting the Treaties, Human Rights, Environmental abuse and mismanagement of Finances and Natural and Human resources from Governments in Canada.

However, it should be NOTED: that for these documents to be effective in their entirety, the various Nations should be utilising the same documents for their collective voices to take effect within at least each Territory.

FYI: A separate Citizen’s Convention of Consent to Self-Determination and Self-Governance for Direct Democracy, the initiation of a new Constitution for Canadians with the respecting of the Treaties is also being distributed across Canada so that both the Citizens and the Nations can support one another and be joined on each side of a new Two Row Living Constitution at the same time in order to save Canada from the forced UNITED NATIONS Corporate Globalization, World Governance and stopped by both the Nations and Citizens.

For more information regarding National/ North American – Turtle Island Convention of Consent for CO-EXISTENCE example and information, please see the web page link:

FN Indigenous Self-Determination and Self-Governance and to further instilling a 50/50 “Two Row Living Constitution” Governance and Co-existence Convention of Consent within Canada



Convention autochtones d’auto-détermination et d’auto-gouvernance


Author(s): Elizabeth Coyle, Maureen Killoran Q.C., Thomas D. Gelbman

May 16, 2013
On May 9, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Behn v. Moulton Contracting Ltd., 2013 SCC 26, affirming that Aboriginal groups seeking to challenge the validity of permits or authorizations granted to resource developers must follow the legislatively mandated process to do so.


In striking these defences, the Court considered whether (a) the Behns, as individual members of FNFN, had standing to assert FNFN’s collective Aboriginal rights; and (b) it was an abuse of process to plead that the Authorizations were void due to an alleged failure to consult.


The Court affirmed the existing jurisprudence that the Crown’s duty to consult is owed to the Aboriginal group that holds section 35 rights and can only be asserted by individuals when they have been authorized by the group to do so. Since no such authorization was issued by FNFN, the Behns had no standing to assert a breach of the duty to consult.


See official Court documents and links below


3: FN Indigenous Self-Governance and Self-Determination

Sign The FN INDIGENOUS Convention Here

4: First nations Elections




Citation:  Behn v. Moulton Contracting Ltd., 2013 SCC 26, [2013] 2 S.C.R. 227 Date: 20130509

Docket: 34404


Sally Behn, Susan Behn, Richard Behn, Greg Behn, Rupert Behn,

Lovey Behn, Mary Behn, George Behn



Moulton Contracting Ltd. and Her Majesty the Queen in

Right of the Province of British Columbia


– and –

Attorney General of Canada, Chief Liz Logan, on behalf of herself and all

other members of the Fort Nelson First Nation and the said Fort Nelson

First Nation, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Regional Authority,

Chief Sally Sam, Maiyoo Keyoh Society, Council of Forest Industries,

Alberta Forest Products Association and Moose Cree First Nation


Excerpts from The Supreme Court decision:

  1. Analysis
  2. Issues

[18]  Three issues must be addressed in this appeal. First, can the Behns, as individual members of an Aboriginal community, assert a breach of the duty to consult?  This issue raises the question to whom the Crown owes a duty to consult.  Second, can treaty rights be invoked by individual members of an Aboriginal community?  These two issues relate to standing.

(3)     Crown

[24]  According to the Crown, the collective nature of Aboriginal and treaty rights means that claims in relation to such rights must be brought by, or on behalf of, the Aboriginal community.  Although the Crown recognizes the Behns’ interest in their treaty rights, it submits that their position on this issue disregards two factors: (1) the issue arising in the litigation concerns a defence to a claim related to a blockade, not to the exercise of hunting or trapping rights; and (2) the FNFN is named as a party to the proceedings and therefore represents the community in them.  The Crown further submits that having a substantial and direct interest in a treaty right does not entitle an individual to bring a treaty rights claim or defence.

  1. Standing

(1)     Duty to Consult

[26]   In defence to Moulton’s claim, as I mentioned above, the Behns argue, inter alia, that their conduct was not illegal, because the Crown had issued the Authorizations in breach of the duty to consult and the Authorizations were therefore invalid.  The question that arises with respect to this particular defence is whether the Behns can assert the duty to consult on their own in the first place.

[31]   In this appeal, it does not appear from the pleadings that the FNFN authorized George Behn or any other person to represent it for the purpose of contesting the legality of the Authorizations.  I note, though, that it is alleged in the pleadings of other parties before this Court that the FNFN had implicitly authorized the Behns to represent it.  As a matter of fact, the FNFN was a party in the proceedings in the courts below, because Moulton was arguing that it had combined or conspired with others to block access to Moulton’s logging sites.  The FNFN is also an intervener in this Court.  But, given the absence of an allegation of an authorization from the FNFN, in the circumstances of this case, the Behns cannot assert a breach of the duty to consult on their own, as that duty is owed to the Aboriginal community, the FNFN.  Even if it were assumed that such a claim by individuals is possible, the allegations in the pleadings provide no basis for one in the context of this appeal.

Website link:


French and English PDF of Court Decision


First Nations Land Management Regime looks like a

“Complete Assimilation Municipal TRAP”!

Next step, be very careful:
find out if your Band Council is registered under the First Nations Land Management Regime if not, then you might want to look into reversing the application as YOUR NATION’S “STATEMENT OF CLAIM”!

Don’t settle for anything you don’t want! 

NOTHING is set in STONE, as even STONE can be CRUSHED…

Make certain that you understand clearly what is being offered under the First Nations Land Management Regime and that it isn’t a trap to complete assimilation to turn your Reserve/ Territory into a municipality. Remove everything that is suspicious and negotiate your terms!



From the Gov’t website

What is the FNLM Regime

For years First Nations have expressed concern that land management under the Indian Act does not allow their communities to fully participate in sustainable economic development activities on their reserve land. In 1990, a group of First Nation Chiefs approached the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs with a framework agreement proposal that would enable their members to consider opting out of land related sections of the Indian Act and assume jurisdiction over their reserve lands and resources under their own land code.

Canada supported this step towards self-sufficiency and signed the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (Framework Agreement) with 14 First Nations. In 1999, the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA) received royal assent, which ratified and brought the Framework Agreement into effect.

The term ‘First Nations Land Management Regime’ refers to the Framework Agreement and the FNLMA, which together provide this opportunity for First Nations to opt out of land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume jurisdiction over their reserve lands and resources under their own land code.

Responding to increasing demand from other First Nations to have the same opportunity, the Framework Agreement and the FNLMA were amended in 2002 to open the Regime to other interested First Nations. These amendments also expanded the law making authority of First Nations to include matrimonial real property.

The FNLM Regime provides operational First Nations with law making powers and management authority over reserve lands, the legal capacity to acquire and hold property, to borrow, to contract, and to expend and invest money. In addition, First Nation reserve land and the venues, royalties, profits and fees in respect of that land are managed by the First Nation, not by Canada. Although the Framework Agreement and the FNLMA does not fundamentally alter the Crown’s fiduciary relationship to signatory First Nations, certain fiduciary obligations of the Crown do diminish as First Nations exercise their law making powers and take on their responsibilities under their land codes.  The transition from the Indian Act to a community land code does not affect the title to the reserve land.  The underlying title remains with the federal Crown and the land will continue to be land reserved for the Indians.

AANDC worked with the Lands Advisory Board (LAB) (for more information, please see the section titled ‘Role of the Lands Advisory Board and Resource Centre’) to amend the FNLMA in 2012 in an effort to respond to lessons learned after over 10 years of operating the Framework Agreement and FNLMA. These amendments are improvements as a result of experience gained by the 34 First Nations currently operating under their own land codes. These amendments received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012, as part of the legislation to implement the Economic Action Plan 2012 and the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act.

The amendments strengthen the FNLM Regime by: expediting the processes for operational First Nations to enact environmental laws; expediting the process for developmental First Nations by excluding land from a land code when it is uncertain whether the particular land forms part of the reserve; removing any uncertainty as to the date when a land code come into force after the community vote; and bringing clarity to the schedule of First Nations listed in the FNLMA. Taken together, these amendments remove identified legislative barriers that prevented or delayed First Nations from taking full advantage of the benefits of assuming land management responsibility under the FNLMA.

Annex A: Benefits of Joining the FNLM Regime

The FNLM Regime allows First Nations to opt out of 34 sections of the Indian Act related to land, resources and environmental management and removes Ministerial oversight and approval relating to the development and use of their land. FNLM unlocks two key elements (land management, and First Nation law making) that improve First Nation land management.

Benefits to First Nations (including to Treaty/Tribal Council First Nations)

The benefits to First Nations under the First Nations Land Management Act are numerous and are not easily quantified. First Nations who operate under their own land codes have reported significant benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Drastic reduction of time and costs associated with the processing of land transactions
  • Increased certainty for land interest holders
  • Ability to mortgage individual interests
  • Electronic/paperless/instant/regulation backed First Nation Land Registry System
  • Title insurance
  • Direct collection of land revenues by First Nation
  • Ability to create laws, processes, procedures and instruments in a timely and transparent fashion
  • Lands continue to be “Lands Reserved for Indians” as specified by section 91.24 of the Constitution
  • Direct control of land revenue previously held in trust by AANDC
  • Approximately one-third of the Indian Act no longer applies to the First Nation’s reserve
  • Community control over reserve lands and resource utilizing the First Nation’s practices and traditions
  • Participation of both on and off members in decision and law making processes
  • Increased accountability to members
  • Legal capacity to acquire and hold property, to borrow, to contract, to expend and invest money, to be a party to legal proceedings, etc.
  • First Nation created environmental assessment and protection laws
  • Ability of First Nations to address the regulatory gap on procedures and rules related to land during marriage breakdown
  • Ability to create modern offences and enforcement for breach of First Nation laws
  • Ability to appoint Justices of the Peace
  • Ability to engage and develop dispute resolution processes
  • Recognition of the inherent right to govern reserve lands and resources

KPMG conducted an independent study in 2009 on the cost and benefits of FNLM by surveying 17 First Nations who had been operational for several years. KPMG reported an average of 40% increase in new business and a 45% increase in the types of businesses and business in new sectors, including supplier and spin off businesses.  In addition, KPMG data indicates that First Nations have:

  • Better relationships with third-parties due to their increased sense of certainty and a better negotiating environment
  • Better market opportunities through enhanced communications, ability to compete, enhanced timing and implementation of instruments as well as better relationships with industries and municipalities
  • Better circumstances to attract business to reserves through direct access to First Nation representatives, increased sense of security for investors and simplified processing conditions
  • Experienced a shift in quality of jobs available on reserve with a greater quantity of employment opportunities thereby reducing the dependence on social programming and increasing local economies
  • Attracted significant internal investment through member-owned enterprises and external investment in joint partnerships with third parties

Interestingly, in the 2009 KPMG’s study, each of the 17 First Nations interviewed reported that they would not consider returning to land management under the Indian Act.

Annex B: Contacts

AANDC Regional Offices

Atlantic Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
P.O. Box 160
40 Havelock Street
Amherst, Nova Scotia
B4H 3Z3
: 902-661-6200
: 902-661-6237
Alberta Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
630 Canada Place
9700 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 4G2
: 780-495-2773
: 780-495-4088
Quebec Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Place Jacques-Cartier Complex
320 St. Joseph Street East
Suite 400
Quebec, Quebec
G1K 9J2
: 418-648-2266
British Columbia Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Suite 600
1138 Melville Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6E 4S3
: 604-775-7114
: 604-775-5100
: 604-775-7149
Ontario Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
25 St. Clair Avenue East
8th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M4T 1M2
: 416-973-6234
: 416-954-6329Manitoba Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
365 Hargrave Street
Room 200
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 3A3
: 204-983-4928
: 204-983-7820
Northwest Territories Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
P.O. Box 1500
Yellowknife, N.W.T.
X1A 2R3
: 867-669-2500
: 867-669-2709Yukon RegionAboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
415C-300 Main Street
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 2B5
: 867-667-3888
: 867-667-3801

Saskatchewan Region
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
1827 Albert Street
Regina, Saskatchewan
S4P 2S9
: 306-780-6744
: 306-780-6120
The Lands Advisory Board:

www.labrc.com for full contact details

For comments or questions about this document, please contact:

The First Nations Land Management Directorate:
Lands and Environment Sector
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau Quebec K1A 0H4
: 819-994-2210
: 819-997-8522

Annex C: Sample FNLM Questionnaire

Questionnaire for First Nation Entry to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management and the First Nations Land Management Act

PDF Version (153 Kb, 5 Pages)

This Questionnaire is separated into 6 Parts:

  • Part 1: I. Governance and Communication with Members
  • Part 2: II. Pursuing Economic Development Opportunities
  • Part 3: III. Land Issues
  • Part 4: IV. Environmental Issues and Environmental Management on Reserve
  • Part 5: V. Experience with Land Administration under the Indian Act
  • Part 6: VI. Conclusion


To read more https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1367432545445/1367432634043#chp9

Or see the Readiness Guide PDF

5: Structure of the Indian Act


6: First Nations Elections Act


The choice of Self-Governance and Self-Determination is


Anything less is CONFUSION, CONFUSION, and More CONFUSION…

by the Government and other Organizations.


Two years, too short: why a custom First Nations election policy is the key to stability

June 22, 2015 – Based on findings of the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples of 1996, statements from the Assembly of First Nations and various First Nations communities, it is clear that First Nations are transitioning away from federal government policy to become self-sufficient and independent. A viable solution to political instability created by flawed election policy is for First Nations to create custom elections, allowing First Nations to acquire community input to develop their own election policy to develop political stability, address the unique needs of their communities and eventually achieve self-governance.

First Nation elections in Canada are controlled by a number of different federal government policies. There are currently several pieces of legislation that determine leadership selection processes on reserve including the Indian Act, custom election policies, self-governance agreements and the recently implemented First Nations Elections Act. Based on the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), Aboriginal peoples desire self-government and self-determination[1] and have an inherent right to govern themselves under section 35 of the Canadian constitution.[2]  In a 2012 presentation to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal peoples, the Assembly of First Nations reiterated the fact that First Nations are attempting to transition into stable, self-governing communities,

“First Nations are in a period of transition and moving towards increased autonomy and self-government. Our approach to governance reform – our collective strategy – is to create the foundations of good governance that will support the transition of our Nations from essentially administering federal programs and services on behalf of Canada or “self-administration” under the Indian Act to self-government with appropriate accountability to our citizens.”[3]

However, current First Nation election policy does not allow those communities to become stable and self-governing and does not reflect the recommendations from the RCAP or the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples report. In fact, First Nation election policy prevents Aboriginal peoples from becoming self-governing and self-determining by creating political instability, leaving social and economic development seriously lacking within many First Nation communities across the country. Former Chiefs of Ontario Regional Chief, Angus Toulouse, said that two years is not enough time to develop, plan, and be accountable for results, “The frequency of elections can also create instability and uncertainty for community members, business ventures and overall community development. Clearly, there are better ways, and First Nations must drive the solutions.”[4]

Former Millbrook First Nation Chief Lawrence Paul also denounced two year electoral cycles, noting that short terms limit long-term planning and investment and limits leadership’s ability to act in the best interest of its citizens.[5] The instability created by short terms of office is also apparent in the United States Congress, as representatives are elected every two years similarly to Chiefs and Council under Indian Act electoral provisions. Two year electoral cycles in Congress were to give citizens the opportunity to hold government accountable and to elect new representatives if needed. An examination of Argentina’s Senate election cycles by Ernesto Dal Bo and Martin A. Rossi supports the notion that shorter terms contribute to political instability and inaction, “if campaigning commitments clash with legislative duties, a shorter term may lower legislative effort[. . .] if legislative efforts yield rewards that accrue over time, a shorter term lowers the expectation of reaping such rewards, which again discourages effort.”[6] If First Nations intend to transition towards self-governance, they must be able to become politically and economically stable through the development of their own custom election policy, which would allow communities to address their unique needs, to carry out their mandate and to improve their socioeconomic situations rather than preparing for an election every two years.

Two hundred and thirty-eight First Nations elect their Chief and council in accordance with election provisions in sections 74 through 79 of the Indian Act,[7] requiring an election for Chief and council to be held every two years. The extremely short two-year term often creates constant leadership changes, making it difficult for Chief and council to complete their mandate[8] – just as the newly elected leadership put their plans into action, they must begin preparing for another election. In addition, two year terms may be especially challenging for Chiefs and Council who have never held office as Theresa Hood, interim Band Manager of the Nuxalk First Nation, explains:

“With the elections within our community, we find that two-year election is not a long enough term for our council. They feel they are just learning our organization and the term ends. Once they have learned what happens internally, then we have another election, and it has such a high turnover within our council, then the process has to start all over again. We go backwards every time a new election happens. We also lose key members of our council every election, council who hold key portfolios.”[9]

First Nations acknowledge that electoral policy under the Indian Act is weak and does not provide enough time for leadership to complete their mandate, hinders long-term planning, and limits the ability to embark on ventures or partnerships, which leaves many communities static in terms of social and economic development.

Thirty-six First Nations in Canada are self-governing,[10] meaning they have either worked out self-governance agreements with the Crown or are not covered by treaty. These Nations are able to develop their own election methods, though they must still be in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Self-governing Nations have the utmost freedom in determining their leadership selection processes and can use traditional leadership selection methods such as hereditary chiefdoms or tribal councils. According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, there are currently 90 self-government negotiations currently in process across the country, indicating that many communities are in the process of becoming self-governing.[11] However, many First Nations are not yet stable enough to become self-governing and need to transition from federal government control to independent Nations.

The First Nations Elections Act appears to offer First Nations a viable alternative to Indian Act election provisions as they move towards self-governance. Under the First Nations Elections Act, communities can opt-in to the legislation and would subsequently extend their terms of office from two years to four years, ideally allowing leadership ample time to develop and stabilize their communities. However, the First Nations Elections Act extension of terms of office from two to four years does not benefit every First Nation and does not address their diverse and unique needs. In order for First Nations to address their own needs, moving towards self-government, they must be able to create custom election policy and establish leadership selection processes that benefit each community individually.

According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 343 First Nations have developed their own custom election regulations and are exempt from Indian Act election provisions.[12] These community developed election policies must be approved by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. The creation of custom First Nation election policy allows First Nations to address their own particular needs by developing community based policy with community input. In addition, custom election policy allows communities to incorporate their traditional methods of governance, as a Cree community may govern differently than an Ojibway community. Custom election policies typically include extended terms of office, limiting the size of council and strengthening the nomination process for candidates.[13] Many First Nations have extended their terms of office to three years and others have staggered council elections – having half the council elected after three years and the other half three years later allowing for some continuity.[14] While the most recent data available from First Nations using custom codes is limited to 206 communities, 58 communities have opted to stay with two-year terms, 84 have adopted three-year terms, while 64 have embraced terms longer than three years.[15] It appears as though First Nations are discarding the two-year terms in favor of longer terms to become politically stable while transitioning to self-governance.


[2] http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-16.html

[3] http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/parliamentary/regionalchiefjodywilson-raybould.pdf  p.2

[4] http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/abor/rep/rep03may10-e.pdf p. 20

[5] http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/abor/rep/rep03may10-e.pdf  p.19

[6] http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/dalbo/Term%20Length%20Final.pdf p.3

[7] http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1323193986817/1323194199466

[8] http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/abor/rep/rep03may10-e.pdf   p.19

[9] http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/abor/rep/rep03may10-e.pdf  p.20

[10] http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1323193986817/1323194199466

[11] http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1323193986817/1323194199466

[12] http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1323193986817/1323194199466

[13] http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/403/abor/rep/rep03may10-e.pdf  p.29

[14] http://fngovernance.org/resources_docs/CustomElectionCode_FactSheets.pdf

[15] http://fngovernance.org/resources_docs/CustomElectionCod_BackgroundTemplate.pdf  p.25

Authored by Matt Pascuzzo, summer policy intern at Northern Policy Institute

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