APTN National News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde are scheduled to sign a historic accord in April aimed at renewing the Crown-First Nations relationship, according to a draft copy of the agreement obtained by APTN National News.
The four-page draft document titled, Memorandum of Understanding to Support First Nations Jurisdiction and Sovereignty and a Renewed Crown-First Nations Relationship, lays out several joint priorities and commitments for Ottawa and the AFN. It also includes a section for Trudeau and Bellegarde to sign during a ceremony in Ottawa on April 21.
The document commits Ottawa and the AFN to support implementation of the Truth and Reconciliations Commission’s calls to action, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the creation of mechanisms to enforce and implement treaty rights. The agreement commits both sides to cooperate in a previously announced review of federal laws and regulations to ensure they comply with Indigenous rights, according to the draft document.
The agreement commits Ottawa to provide financial support for the “meaningful engagement of First Nations as rights holders.” Ottawa also agrees to provide funding to the AFN, along with regional chiefs organizations, to work on the commitments in the agreement, according to the draft document.
The federal budget unveiled Wednesday includes a section outlining Ottawa’s financial commitments for a “renewed Nation-to-Nation” relationship. New funding announced in the budget includes $13.7 million over two years to support the bilateral relationships between Ottawa and First Nations, the Inuit and Metis through their respective representative organizations like the AFN, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Metis National Council.
The federal budget also set aside $3.1 million over three years to create a secretariat within the Privy Council Office to deal specifically with the review of federal laws and policies. The aim of the review, according to the Ottawa-AFN agreement, is to “decolonize federal law and policies” and align them with UNDRIP, according to the draft document.
Under the agreement, Ottawa will work with the AFN to co-develop the previously announced Indigenous Languages Act and a national action plan to implement UNDRIP, according to the draft document.
The agreement would see a cabinet-level working group comprised of AFN representatives and the federal ministers meet every three months, with at least one of the meetings attended by the prime minister, said the draft document.
The agreement also commits Ottawa and the AFN to report back to Parliament and the chiefs-and-assembly respectively, at least once a year.