About Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Working together to make Canada a better place for Aboriginal and northern people and communities.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supports Aboriginal people (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and Northerners in their efforts to:
- improve social well-being and economic prosperity;
- develop healthier, more sustainable communities; and
- participate more fully in Canada's political, social and economic development — to the benefit of all Canadians.
INAC is one of 34 federal government departments responsible for meeting the Government of Canada's obligations and commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and for fulfilling the federal government's constitutional responsibilities in the North. INAC's responsibilities are largely determined by numerous statutes, negotiated agreements and relevant legal decisions. Most of INAC's programs, representing a majority of its spending – are delivered through partnerships with Aboriginal communities and federal-provincial or federal-territorial agreements. INAC also works with urban Aboriginal people, Métis and Non-Status Indians (many of whom live in rural areas).
INAC's mandate, responsibilities and key priorities are shaped by centuries of history, and unique demographic and geographic challenges.
INAC negotiates comprehensive and specific claims as well as self-government agreements on behalf of the Government of Canada. INAC is responsible for implementing its obligations under these agreements, as well as overseeing the implementation of obligations of other government departments flowing from these agreements. INAC also provides support for services on reserves such as education, housing, community infrastructure and social support to Status Indians on reserves; administers the land management component of the Indian Act; and executes other regulatory duties under the Indian Act.
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development acts as the Government of Canada's primary interlocutor for Métis, Non-Status Indians and urban Aboriginal people. INAC serves as a focal point for Inuit issues, which supports the inclusion of Inuit-specific concerns in federal program and policy development.
INAC is the lead federal department for two-fifths of Canada's landmass, with a direct role in the political and economic development of the territories and significant responsibilities for resource, land and environmental management. In the North, the territorial governments generally provide the majority of social programs and services to all Northerners, including Aboriginal people.
The Canadian Polar Commission, a separate agency, supports polar research through its mandate to develop, promote and disseminate knowledge of the polar regions. It carries out this mandate by co-operating with organizations, institutions and associations, in Canada and elsewhere, to undertake, support and publish studies, recognize achievements and promote polar research and its application in Canada. It also reports on polar issues and the state of polar knowledge and initiates and supports conferences, seminars and meetings.
Statutes and Agreements
The mandate for Indigenous Affairs is derived from a number of sources including the following:
- Canadian Constitution
- Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act
- Indian Act as amended over the years
- statutes dealing with resource management
A broad suite of legislation designed to provide First Nations with jurisdictional powers outside the Indian Act further defines INAC's mandate, including the following:
- First Nations Land Management Act
- First Nations Fiscal Management Act
- First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act
- Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
- First Nations Financial Transparency Act
- Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
The department's mandate is also shaped by specific statutes enabling modern treaties. These include the following:
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