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

Funding available for caribou habitat restoration

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is now accepting grant applications

Sagmoen back in Vernon court this week

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

Crash temporarily closes Trans Canada Highway near Sicmaous

DriveBC reported the accident at 3 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10

Revelstoke council to hear first proposed cannabis store application

Starbuds would be located at 109 Connaught Ave.

Revelstoke father and daughter venture abroad to teach English

Columbia is trying to increase the number of English speakers

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Man pulls out gun at Keremeos gas station

RCMP arrested an Olalla man around 10 a.m. Sunday after he pulled a gun earlier that morning.

Protesters take to Highway 1 over migration issues

Five people protested Canada’s plans to sign the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Most Read