Squiala Chief Dave Jimmie speaks during the opening of the new Vedder Bridge. Chief Jimmie was also part of the effort for the past 17 months to map out a new fiscal relationship between Canada and First Nations. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress file)

Fiscal relationship with FN gets reset with help of B.C. chief

Feds and First Nations could be about to transform the way they do business

A new fiscal relationship is on the table between the federal government and First Nations, and a B.C. chief was right in the thick of it.

Squiala First Nation Chief Dave Jimmie co-chaired the national Joint Chiefs Committee on the Fiscal Relationship, alongside National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Chief Jimmie said he was “honoured” to be working on the pivotal national file for the past 17 months.

READ MORE: Chief Jimmie takes over SNCC

The just-released report has major implications for the more than 600 First Nations across Canada with ideas like the one to create 10-year funding grants.

The proposal on the table would establish a mutually accountable framework to get rid of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act in 2018, which the Trudeau government stopped enforcing in 2015.

“This is a small but positive step in improving the relationship with Canada,” noted Chief Jimmie. “Most Canadians have no idea that Canada had placed a two-per-cent cap on (increases in funding to) First Nation communities in 1996, or the reporting burden that each community must go through every year.”

The report indicates the changes could lead to longer-term planning and better financial management for Indigenous communities and leaders, as well as building capacity and accountability.

However, the financial aspect was only part of it, he underlined.

Rather than dealing with and reporting to five federal departments individually, a First Nation could receive a single stream of longer-term funding.

“The transfer (grant) funding is only one of the four recommendations from our final report, so it is not the whole story,” cautioned Chief Jimmie.

One of the expectations is that the whole process will boost incentive for implementing sound financial management practices and in turn the ability to qualify for the grants.

“The transfer funding structure was a result of the feedback we received from local, provincial and national tables,” said Jimmie.

The other important aspect said the local chief “is that Canada has committed to continue the fiscal relations work by establishing a permanent advisory committee” to be appointed by the Order in Council.

The feedback was positive from several Sto:lo communities, and there were six engagement sessions, led by Chief Jimmie, and others, held across B.C. to gather input and feedback.

“We’ve had an opportunity that not many have had working with a government willing to engage in improving the fiscal relationship and review legislation and policies that apply to our First Nation governments so we have to make the most of it,” said Jimmie.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Sto:lo Tribal Council president, and Chair of the First Nations Health Council, called the new relationship proposal “huge and long overdue.”

He said he’s excited by the implications, and likes that it places the accountability for chiefs and councils squarely with their citizens.

“The past government tightened the screws on the accountability of Chiefs and Councils to bureaucrats. Today, Chiefs and Councils are accountable to the Minister, bureaucrats, and the public before their citizens.”

“This is a huge shift in federal government policy.”

It fundamentally changes the approach to funding into more of a transfer, which is less bureaucratic and similar to the way it funds provinces and territories.

”We have an opportunity to move out from under the colonial burden of the Indian Act in favour of our own Indigenous forms of governance, standards, and accountability. What are we waiting for?” Chief Kelly said.

“This opportunity compels Chiefs and Councils to engage their citizens. This is the real opportunity – citizens setting priorities, strategic goals, and setting standards for Indigenous governance. I am very excited.

“If we want change, then we must set aside our fears. In setting aside fear of doing our business differently, we open our imaginations to doing our work in our ways.”


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Squiala Chief Dave Jimmie, INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett, and AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in Gatineau, Quebec.

Just Posted

Woodwynn Farms to be shut down and sold

The rehabilitation program at Woodwynn Farms is being shut down. According to… Continue reading

Langford loses bid to host Amazon HQ2

Mayor hopes to attract more tech jobs to city

Whooping cough detected in Claremont student

15 Greater Victoria schools have been informed of a student with pertussis since September

VIDEO: Protesters chain doors shut at DFO office in Saanich

Fish farm protesters removed from Commerce Circle for a second time

Pedestrian in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being struck in View Royal

Incident closed Island Highway for several hours Wednesday night

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Most Read