THUNDER BAY – The AFN is not impressed. “I share the concerns expressed by First Nation governments in many regions across the country regarding unilateral and imposed changes to contribution agreements, and call on Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt to revoke these changes until a joint process is identified and implemented that respects the duty to consult with First Nations. Moreover, there is a commitment to a renewed relationship which must ensure fairness, respect and long term sustainable financial arrangements” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
Following expressions of concern across a number of regions, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) Co-Chair Deborah Robinson today called for the Government of Canada to revoke unilateral changes to the standard form contribution agreement until a joint process for consultation with First Nation governments is established and implemented.
AFN concerned over unilateral action
“First Nation leaders are being forced to decide between asserting and defending their rights and the ability to provide basic community services,” said Atlantic Policy Congress Co-Chair and Acadia First Nation Chief Deborah Robinson. “This is a significant step in the wrong direction and does nothing to support our joint commitment to a fundamental transformation in the relationship between First Nations and Canada.”
In recent days, First Nation leaders across the country have raised concerns and objected revisions made in the 2013-2014 standard form contribution agreement.
The provision funding from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to First Nations Governments and Tribal Councils is facilitated through a contribution agreement. There is a standard form contribution agreement which outlines the funding relationship and conditions that must be met by recipients of funds. This standard form approach means that the federal government, through their financial and legal officials, prepare a draft model contribution agreement and provide to First Nations governments for signature.
The AFN states, “There is no negotiation involved in the content of the contribution agreements, therefore, there is no ability to revise, negotiate or reject the terms and conditions contained in the standard form agreement. Periodically, the federal government revises the standard form agreement in accordance with new laws, policies, procedures or standards”.
In the past, First Nation leaders have objected to unilateral changes, however, failure to sign the agreements means funds will not flow from the federal government to First Nations.
The Atlantic Policy Congress Secretariat is an advocate for speaking with one voice on behalf of First Nations communities. Through research and analysis, the APC develops policy alternatives for matters affecting First Nations communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Maine, USA.