The modern treaty era began in 1973 after the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Calder et al. v. Attorney-General of British Columbia, which recognized Indigenous rights for the first time. This decision led to the first modern treaty, the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement signed in 1975.
Since 1975, Canada has signed 26 modern treaties with Indigenous groups in Canada, 18 of which contain self-government provisions or associated self-government agreements. Consult Modern treaties – Comprehensive Land Claims and Self-Government agreements map.
Modern treaties recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples to:
- ownership over 600,000 km² of land
- protection and revitalization of their traditional culture, language and heritage
- access to resource development opportunities
- participation in land and resources management decisions
- predictability with respect to land rights in around 40% of Canada's land mass
- associated self-government rights and political recognition
- improved social development through better outcomes in health, education and housing
- fostering of economic development opportunities and achieving greater self-reliance
On this page
Canada's Collaborative Modern Treaty Implementation Policy
Modern treaties articulate the relationships, overall objectives and specific obligations and responsibilities that their signatories must achieve and execute. Canada is committed to meeting its obligations under modern treaties and to fully embody true nation-to-nation, government-to-government and Inuit-Crown relationships with Indigenous modern treaty partners.
To further these aims, Canada and Indigenous modern treaty partners co-developed Canada's Collaborative Modern Treaty Implementation Policy in 2023. It provides clear direction to federal departments and agencies to ensure the timely and effective fulfillment of obligations and objectives in the spirit in which the agreements were signed and with the purpose of strengthening intergovernmental relationships.
This policy provides new implementation tools to complement existing mechanisms and seeks to strengthen oversight and accountability by federal departments and agencies in carrying out Canada's modern treaty obligations. This will contribute to advancing a transformational shift towards genuine reconciliation.
This policy is in effect but is a continually evolving document that will be updated over time, including as new annexes are collaboratively developed.
Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation
Following engagement with Indigenous modern treaty partners in 2015, Canada published the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation. The cabinet directive sought to define the roles and responsibilities of federal departments, and to require departments to assess program, policy, regulatory and legislative proposals to ensure that modern treaties are respected.
Statement of Principles on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation
Following consultation with Indigenous modern treaty partners in 2015, Canada published the Statement of Principles on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation which provided policy guidance to federal departments and agencies on their role in the implementation of modern treaties and self-government agreements.
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