OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 24, 2022 /CNW/ - On November 3, Paul Prosper, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief (Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) and Portfolio Holder for Lands, Territories and Resources, on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, formally launched the joint partnership between the Government of Canada and the AFN on the reform of the specific claims process.
This collaborative process will build on the groundwork laid by the AFN during its national dialogue sessions with First Nations in 2017 and 2019, and their work on the specific claims reform proposal.
The ultimate goal of the Specific Claims Reform Co-Development Process is the establishment of an independent Specific Claims Resolution Centre. This is something First Nations have been calling on the Canadian government to create for decades.
Together, Canada and the AFN will establish a centre that will act as a neutral body to accelerate the resolution of claims. They will make resolution tools like mediation and facilitation more readily available to First Nations while providing them with the resources and information needed to develop their claims.
The exact mandate of the Centre will be at the heart of the co-development work with Canada, the AFN and other First Nation partner organizations.
The reform process will be guided by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and will contribute to advancing reconciliation between First Nations and Canada. Honouring Canada's legal obligations to First Nations and working collaboratively to renew relationships are key to addressing historical wrongs with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
"For generations, First Nations have called for the elimination of the Government of Canada's conflict of interest and the creation of a fully independent specific claims process. The launch of the Specific Claims Implementation Working Group marks a significant advancement in our collective efforts to improve the specific claims process. We look forward to making progress with the Government of Canada to create a fair and equitable specific claims process."
Regional Chief, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Assembly of First Nations
"Throughout this co-development process, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with First Nations to develop a centre that facilitates and accelerates the resolution of specific claims and instills more trust in the process. This is just a first step, and we know there is a need for ongoing discussions with First Nations in order to resolve specific claims."
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Specific claims deal with past wrongs against First Nations. These claims (made by First Nations against the Government of Canada) relate to the administration of land and other First Nation assets and the fulfilment of historic treaties and other agreements.
Specific claims are separate and distinct from comprehensive land claims or modern treaties.
The Government of Canada remains committed to seeking resolution outside of the courts and believes that negotiation is always preferable to litigation. The specific claims process is voluntary for First Nations and provides a way to resolve disputes outside of the court system.
In 1982, the federal government released Outstanding Business: A Native Claims Policy, which set out the policy on specific claims and guidelines for the assessment of claims and negotiations.
Important amendments were made to the Specific Claims Policy in the early 1990s.
On June 12, 2007, the Prime Minister announced Justice at Last: Specific Claims Action Plan, which outlined plans to accelerate the resolution of specific claims to provide justice for First Nation claimants and certainty for government, industry and all Canadians.
A key feature of the Action Plan was the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, which came into force on October 16, 2008. Pursuant to the Act, First Nations may choose to file claims with the independent Tribunal that are not accepted for negotiation or that are not resolved through a negotiated settlement agreement within a specified time frame.
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SOURCE Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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