Harper Government and First Nations Make Progress on Comprehensive Claims

Ref. #2-3787

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (April 12, 2013) – Building on the progress made during the January 11, 2013 meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nation leaders, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, met today with First Nation leaders to discuss improvements to Canada's Comprehensive Claims Policy, which was last updated in 1993.

The Minister and First Nation leaders shared concerns about the pace at which claims are being settled, and agreed that a review of the current federal Comprehensive Claims Policy would allow the parties to explore possible policy changes to better reflect the current landscape, taking into account legal developments, the practical experience of First Nations and the Government of Canada in reaching agreements, as well as other approaches to addressing Aboriginal rights.

The Minister committed to working with First Nation partners, with the support of the Assembly of First Nations, on the renewal of the Government of Canada Comprehensive Claims Policy to expedite the resolution of claims in a manner that is fair and enables economic development for First Nations.

The parties agreed that the Senior Oversight Committee the Prime Minister committed to coming out of the January 11, 2013 meeting will oversee progress on this work and will provide advice to the government on a renewed policy.

The Minister also reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that federal negotiation policies reflect the principles of recognition and affirmation mandated by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and that they advance certainty, expeditious resolution, and self-sufficiency, as committed to in the Crown – First Nations Gathering Outcome Statement.

The Harper Government remains focused on four priorities, as outlined by the Prime Minister, that Canadians care most about: their families, the safety of our streets and communities, their pride in being a citizen of this country, and their personal financial security.

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For more information, please contact:

Minister's Office
Jan O'Driscoll
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt
Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

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