About the department
Working together to make Canada a better place for Aboriginal and northern people and communities.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) 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.
AANDC 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. AANDC's responsibilities are largely determined by numerous statutes, negotiated agreements and relevant legal decisions. Most of AANDC's programs, representing a majority of its spending - are delivered through partnerships with Aboriginal communities and federal-provincial or federal-territorial agreements. AANDC also works with urban Aboriginal people, Métis and Non-Status Indians (many of whom live in rural areas).
AANDC's mandate, responsibilities and key priorities are shaped by centuries of history, and unique demographic and geographic challenges.
AANDC negotiates comprehensive and specific claims as well as self-government agreements on behalf of the Government of Canada. AANDC 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. AANDC 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. AANDC serves as a focal point for Inuit issues, which supports the inclusion of Inuit-specific concerns in federal program and policy development.
AANDC 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 Aboriginal 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 AANDC'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:
- Nisga'a Final Agreement Act
- Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
- Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement Act
- Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
- Yale First Nation Final Agreement Act
The Northern Development mandate derives from a number of sources including the following:
- Canadian Constitution
- Statutes enacted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act
- Statutes enacting modern treaties North of 60°, such as the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, or self-government agreements, such as the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act
- Statutes dealing with environmental and resource management
- Statutes such as the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord Implementation Act, the Yukon Act, the Nunavut Act, the Northwest Territories Act, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act and the Northern Jobs and Growth Act
Find out more
- 2015–2016 Report on Plans and Priorities
- 2013–2014 Departmental Performance Report
- Consultation and Accommodation
- Aboriginal and corporate resourcing
- Commonly used Terminology, such as 'Indian' and 'Non-Status Indian'
- You Wanted to Know - Most Frequently Asked Questions
- Change to the Department's Name
- Date modified: