Governance Tools for Communities

Notice

This website will change as a result of the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the creation of Indigenous Services Canada and the eventual creation of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. During this transformation, you may also wish to consult the updated Indigenous and Northern Affairs home page.

Self-Assessment Tools

To find the governance tools that will be most useful, a community can first identify its strengths and flag the capacity gaps it wishes to correct. A number of self-assessment tools exist. The tools available through Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations are directly relevant to First Nations:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

British Columbia Assembly of First Nations

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

International Development Research Centre

Global Development Research Center

McKinsey and Company

Suggest a new governance tool.

Ten Core Functions of First Nation Governments

First Nations perform functions common to all governments. These have been described in different ways by organizations such as the United Nations (PDF) and the Institute on Governance. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada provides funding and concrete help to First Nations communities interested in improving their governance systems. The department therefore uses a practical definition of governance which focuses on activities within ten core functions:

Table of contents

Here are some tools to help communities in each of these areas. Funding is also available through the Professional and Institutional Development Program when a community needs help that is not available through existing resources.

Leadership Tools

Leadership activities involve the fair and open leadership selection of government leaders, transparent compensation for their work, meetings of council, and the accountability of these leaders for government operations. Examples include leadership selection and election codes and processes, defining the roles and responsibilities of chiefs and councillors, and the government's policy-making processes.

Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada

  • Resources, Toolkits, Best Practices & Reference Documents for Elected Leadership
  • Strategic Management & Accountability for First Nations – Best Practices to Consider

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Institute on Governance

Justice Canada

Suggest a new governance tool.

Membership Tools

Membership activities involve recognizing those individuals who are formal members of First Nation communities. Activities include developing and applying policies which decide who is a member, registering individuals, and maintaining membership lists.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Suggest a new governance tool.

Law-Making Tools

Law-Making activities apply the legal powers of a First Nation such as through bylaws. Activities include drafting proposed community laws, passing and amending bylaws through meetings of council, and recording and making these laws public.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Justice Canada

  • Indian Act: Powers Of The Council (by-laws)

Suggest a new governance tool.

Community Involvement Tools

Community Involvement activities allow First Nation members to participate in government decision-making and to stay informed. This is often done by applying policies and tools for communicating with band members and by offering community consultations, appeal mechanisms, and dispute resolution measures.

First Nations in British Columbia Portal

  • Policy Procedures for Community Based Decisions Template

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council

  • AHP-CII-UK (Going the Right Way) - A Handbook for Creating Lasting Change in First Nation Communities

Suggest a new governance tool.

External Relations Tools

External Relations involve the interaction of the community administration with other government organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Activities include participating in intergovernmental forums and public-service professional associations and communicating with other governments and the broader Canadian public. Establishing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders can facilitate other important processes such discussions on land claims, resource rights, funding transfers, and public-private partnerships.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council

  • AHP-CII-UK (Going the Right Way) - A Handbook for Creating Lasting Change in First Nation Communities

Suggest a new governance tool.

Planning and Risk Management Tools

Planning and Risk Management activities allow the First Nation government to organize, oversee, and report on its programs, to foster continuous improvement, and to plan ahead. This function includes ensuring services support a broader vision, identifying and mitigating risks, strategic planning, community planning, planning for capacity development, and monitoring, evaluating and reporting on program performance.

Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada

  • Impact and Benefits Agreements Community Toolkit
  • Resources, Toolkits, Best Practices & Reference Documents in Applied Management
  • Strategic Management & Accountability for First Nations – Best Practices to Consider

British Columbia Assembly of First Nations

First Nations in British Columbia Portal

First Nations Emergency Services Society

  • Emergency Plan Template and Guide

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

  • Comprehensive Community Planning Handbook for First Nations in British Columbia
  • First Nation Self-Evaluation of Community Programs – A Guidebook on Performance Management

International Development Research Centre (Ottawa),

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Suggest a new governance tool.

Financial Management Tools

Financial Management entails planning, managing, and monitoring assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures. Activities include setting financial policies, developing budgets, tracking financial transactions, completing and communicating audited financial statements, collecting revenues, and tendering and awarding contracts.

Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada

  • Resources, Toolkits, Best Practices & Reference Documents
  • Sample models of First Nation financial codes
  • Sample templates and synopses of financial policies and procedures
  • Financial Reporting by First Nations
  • Workshop Presentation – Preparing Financial Statements Under the Common Government Reporting Model
  • Sample First Nation Operations Manual
  • Fiscal Planning Calendar

First Nations in British Columbia Portal

  • High Bar First Nation Finance Policy and Procedures Manual

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Suggest a new governance tool.

Human Resources Management Tools

Human Resources Management includes activities which hire, retain, and compensate the skilled people needed to meet the First Nation government's goals. This function includes developing policies (such as hiring processes, codes of ethics, and conflict of interest guidelines,) developing job descriptions, supporting volunteers, recruiting staff, organizing training, and administering salaries and benefits.

British Columbia First Nations Public Service Initiative

First Nations in British Columbia Portal

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Suggest a new governance tool.

Information Management and Information Technology Tools

Information Management and Information Technology activities manage the data systems and maintain the business practices which ensure that administrators and community leaders have access to reliable and secure information on the government's services and on the needs of the people it serves. This function includes developing and applying policies on data security, on access to information and privacy, on document management, and on the purchase and maintenance of computer hardware and software.

First Nation Technology Council

Basic Administration Tools

Basic Administration activities include the practices which govern the efficient day-to-day functioning of the community administration such as general office procedures and policies on core internal services.

Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada

  • Sample First Nation Operations Manual

Suggest a new governance tool.

Date modified: