Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supports First Nation communities in the implementation of strong, effective and sustainable governments. Research has shown that effective governance is the single greatest contributing factor to a community's socio-economic progress and its overall well-being.

Good governance and institutions help First Nation communities to:

  • take greater control over the decisions that affect their lives
  • carry out effective relationships with other governments
  • take advantage of economic development opportunities
  • improve programs and services
  • enhance their social and economic well-being

Governance structures among First Nation communities are at different stages of maturity and development. Some First Nations have self-government agreements with Canada while others have minimal governance structures. Many First Nations fall somewhere in between.

INAC engages in wide-ranging activities to help support communities in their transition to stronger, more effective governance systems, including:

  • negotiating and implementing self-government and land claim agreements.
  • providing funding to band offices and tribal councils for core operations, such as office space, salaries and benefits, as well as for advisory services and professional and institutional development
  • amending relevant laws and regulations to help support First Nation institutions, organizations and governments
  • building cooperative relationships with First Nation governments through the use of modern and historic treaties

In addition to these activities, INAC also supports the governance capacity of First Nations through tools and resources for governance.

INAC supports the development of First Nations institutions and governance capacity, while respecting Canada's constitutional and statutory obligations concerning First Nations. INAC oversees the implementation and administration of governance processes under the Indian Act, while at the same time reviewing these processes to respond to new challenges and court decisions such as the landmark Corbiere decision, which extended voting rights to all band members regardless of residency.

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