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

Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Head of Greater Victoria builders warns of changing construction climate

VRBA director Casey Edge also questions Saanich’s commitment towards housing affordability

Saanich police are looking for a man who exposed himself Saturday night

The incident exposure happened at the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street

Saanich councillor raises the possibility of charging for plugging in electric vehicles

Coun. Colin Plant said funds raised could help build EV infrastructure

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit returns to Royal BC Museum

Exhibit will feature award-winning photographers from around the world

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Support pours in for Vancouver Island couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

2019 Canadian Whisky Awards’ big winners announced

Awards held in conjunction with Victoria Whisky Festival

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

Most Read