The long history and rich culture of Aboriginal people in Canada not only help define our national identity but also shape our social and economic well-being. Fostering good government and strong accountability in Aboriginal communities helps to increase investor confidence, support economic partnerships and improve living conditions.
Self-government agreements are one means of building sound governance and institutional capacity that allow Aboriginal communities to contribute to, and participate in, the decisions that affect their lives and carry out effective relationships with other governments. They also provide greater certainty over rights to natural resources, contributing to a more positive investment climate and creating greater potential for economic development, jobs and growth. Learn more about the benefits of self-government.
Self-government has been negotiated and implemented in a variety of forms in Canada. In collaboration with its treaty partners, Canada has completed 18 comprehensive self-government agreements involving 32 communities and another establishing a public government in Nunavut. These include 5 comprehensive land claims with self-government components negotiated in BC, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories; 11 stand-alone self-government agreements negotiated in conjunction with land claims agreements in the Yukon; and two stand-alone self-government agreements negotiated in BC. Sectoral self-government agreements on education have also been concluded in Nova Scotia and under negotiation in BC.
As of September 2012, there are 21 self-government negotiation tables across the country. These tables are at various stages of the negotiation process. Review these key general statistics about negotiating tables. Explore this map or consult this list of negotiation tables to learn more about these negotiations.
It has taken, on average, 15 years to reach a final agreement. Review this graph showing average negotiation times.
To respond to past calls for change and build on new opportunities, Canada plans to work with its negotiating partners on a results-based approach to treaty and self-government negotiations. The goal is to find a more streamlined way to conclude more agreements in less time, for the benefit of all Canadians.
New self-government arrangements support the achievement of "good governance" – governance that is participatory, accountable, responsive, efficient and effective, transparent and that operates by the rule of law. Research demonstrates that good governance is a critical component of achieving individual and community well-being.
For self-government agreements to be effective, they need to address, among other things, the structure of the new government and its relationship with other governments, new fiscal arrangements, the relationship of laws between jurisdictions, program and service delivery, and implementation planning.
In many cases, self-government arrangements are negotiated in conjunction with comprehensive land claims.
Self-government agreements establish Aboriginal governments that are primarily responsible to their citizens, as well as a framework for intergovernmental relationships between the Aboriginal and federal governments. Both of these relationships contain accountability implications which must be addressed.
Agreements must address the need to strengthen key elements of operations, including fiscal and management regimes. They must also promote governance systems with the capacity, size, resources and legitimacy to provide effective governance, positioning Aboriginal communities to pursue opportunities for economic development.
While much has been done to ensure self-government agreement provisions address these fundamental needs, the Government of Canada acknowledges it must continue to collaborate with its agreement partners to strengthen its approach to treaty implementation.