OTTAWA – Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today released a report from Douglas Eyford, Ministerial Special Representative on Renewing the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy. This report was presented to Minister Valcourt by Mr. Eyford, who was appointed in July 2014 to lead engagement with Aboriginal groups on the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy.
To this end, over the past six months, Mr. Eyford met with representatives from more than 100 Aboriginal groups, federal, provincial and territorial governments and industry. The purpose of Mr. Eyford’s report is to summarize what was heard during this engagement and inform ongoing work to renew and reform the Government of Canada’s approach to comprehensive land claims.
Over the coming months, the Government of Canada will be engaging with Aboriginal groups as well as other stakeholders, including those who provided input during these engagement meetings, in order to seek their feedback on Mr. Eyford’s recommendations. The Government will then carefully review and consider this additional feedback along with Mr. Eyford’s recommendations.
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to the report by Ministerial Special Representative Douglas Eyford, “A New Direction: Advancing Aboriginal and Treaty Rights”.
“This report talks about ‘a new direction forward’ but, unfortunately, it’s yet another step sideways”, said National Chief Bellegarde. “We understand and appreciate the report’s attempt to recognize the importance of reconciliation, but what is needed is direct, face-to-face discussions in which the federal government and First Nations are equal, committed partners. This is consistent with our nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship. For the same reason, we are concerned that the federal government is increasingly relying on Ministerial Special Representatives to work with First Nations when the government should be engaging with us directly.”
The AFN is undertaking a full, detailed analysis of the report and will provide that analysis and recommendations to First Nations leaders and citizens across Canada.
National Chief Bellegarde stated, “We need to move ahead on a new Comprehensive Claims Policy that meets the concerns of First Nations and complies with Section 35 rights and relationships, and all future work must be informed by the significant implications of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Tsilhqot’in Nation case. This work needs to happen with First Nations leadership and the federal government. First Nations are ready to move on an approach based on our relationship with the Crown, our Treaties and inherent Aboriginal rights and title, consistent with the ‘whole of government’ approach referenced in Eyford’s report. We want real engagement on the path forward to lead to real results.”
On July 28, 2014, the AANDC Minister appointed Douglas Eyford as his Special Representative to “lead engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders to renew and reform the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy.” In 2014, AANDC released a document called “Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy”, which included a new “Interim Policy” on comprehensive claims that would provide the starting point for Douglas Eyford’s engagement.