Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy
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The report of Douglas Eyford, Ministerial Special Representative on Renewing the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy was released on April 2, 2015. Mr. Eyford was appointed in July 2014 by the Minister to lead engagement with Aboriginal groups on the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy. Over the past six months, Mr. Eyford met with representatives from more than 100 Aboriginal groups, federal, provincial and territorial governments, and industry.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada would like to thank Mr. Eyford for undertaking this important work. Over the coming months, AANDC will be engaging with Aboriginal groups as well as other stakeholders, including those who provided input during the 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.
Since 1973, the Government of Canada has been negotiating comprehensive land claims or modern treaties with Aboriginal groups and provincial or territorial governments. The policy that guides the federal government in these treaty negotiations is called the comprehensive land claims policy.
The last update of this policy was published in 1986. Canada's policy approach to treaty negotiations has evolved significantly since 1986 through discussions with Aboriginal and provincial or territorial partners at negotiating tables and as a result of various court decisions. Many of these changes are not reflected in the 1986 policy publication.
Aboriginal groups, provincial and territorial governments and others have long called for renewed federal approaches to accelerate progress in treaty making to advance reconciliation and unlock new economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities. The Government of Canada has heard these concerns and is looking at ways to address these issues. New measures to advance treaty negotiations and reconciliation outside treaties were announced in July 2014 in response to past engagements.
Background on the Engagement Process
On July 28, 2014, Minister Valcourt announced the appointment of Douglas Eyford as a Ministerial Special Representative to lead engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders to renew and reform the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy, as part of a new framework for addressing Section 35 Aboriginal rights.
As a starting point for dialogue, AANDC released a document called Renewing the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy: Towards a Framework for Addressing Section 35 Aboriginal Rights. This interim policy outlines the Government of Canada's current approach to treaty negotiations, along with key updates. This interim policy includes important new principles of recognition and reconciliation and was shaped by extensive past engagement with negotiating partners. It responds to calls for change, including some key recommendations of the 2013 Eyford report (PDF) on West Coast Energy Infrastructure.
Over the past six months, engagement took place through various means, including in-person meetings held at treaty negotiation tables, regional meetings led by Mr. Eyford and through online tools. During the engagement period, Mr. Eyford met with over 100 Aboriginal communities, many Aboriginal organizations, third parties and governments.
The Ministerial Special Representative's Report
Mr. Eyford has prepared a report outlining what he heard during the engagement process and setting out his recommendations for further improvements to the treaty process. This independent report was made available on AANDC's website on April 2, 2015.
Over the coming months, AANDC will be engaging with Aboriginal groups as well as other stakeholders, including those who provided input during the engagement meetings to seek their feedback on Mr. Eyford's recommendations.
The Government of Canada looks forward to the additional feedback it will receive.
How is this Interim Policy different from the 1986 policy?
This interim policy outlines Canada's current approach to treaty negotiations, including the major developments that have occurred since the publication of the last comprehensive land claims policy in 1986.
The interim policy was shaped by extensive engagement with negotiating partners since 2009 to try to identify solutions to address key impediments and accelerate progress. It is a starting point for dialogue that responds to calls for change in key areas, including:
- New principles to guide treaty making based on recognition and reconciliation that were jointly developed with First Nation leaders through the Senior Oversight Committee on Comprehensive Claims
- More flexible options and tools for addressing Aboriginal rights in the short and medium term both inside and outside of treaty negotiations
- Shifting the focus from settling claims to reconciling rights on an ongoing basis
- Clarifying how Canada supports Aboriginal groups to resolve their shared territory disputes where these issues arise in the context of treaty negotiations.
This is one step in the evolution of federal policies and approaches for addressing section 35 Aboriginal rights. Canada recognizes that these federal policies and approaches will continue to evolve over time and is continuing to work with partners to negotiate fair agreements that work for and benefit all parties.