Transparency and accountability engagement: What we heard

Summaries of the face-to-face meetings for the engagement on a way forward with First Nations on mutual financial transparency and accountability will be posted here. These meetings are designed to seek input from First Nations leadership and organizations on the way forward for mutual transparency and accountability.

On this page

Saskatoon, SK: April 5, 2017

Participants

Approximately 11 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • James Smith Cree Nation (Chakastaypasin)
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation
  • Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation
  • Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation
  • The Key First Nation
  • Kinistin Saulteaux Nation
  • Big River First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Saskatoon, SK engagement session:

  • More background context is needed to help inform Canadians on the reality of managing a First Nations community.
  • The federal government should come to an agreement with First Nations on what information should and should not be shared with the Canadian public.
  • INAC should add additional measures to ensure the accuracy of information it shares with the media on First Nations.
  • First Nation reporting requirements should either be reduced or First Nations should be given additional funding to increase their staff and help pay for audit costs so that they can better meet current reporting requirements.
  • First Nation reporting requirements, particularly their reporting requirements to their membership, should be tailored in a manner that allows the majority of members without an accounting background to easily understand the financial information of their communities.
  • The reporting requirements should be generally consistent amongst First Nations, regardless of the size or complexity of their operations.
  • First Nations should communicate financial results to their membership rather than membership having to request this information from INAC.
  • The manner in which First Nations communicate financial results to their membership should be flexible, as long as the information is accurate and clearly demonstrates how the First Nation administration is using the funding.
  • There may be a role for a financial transparency law to support First Nation financial reporting to membership, although there was no consensus on the type or level of reporting, and whether that reporting should be disclosed to the general public. It was not specified what role First Nations governments, First Nation organizations, or the Federal Government would play in the enactment, implementation and regulation of such a law.
  • INAC and First Nations should work together to develop specific outcomes/results relative to the funding provided to their communities. Adding results-based information would make financial reporting more meaningful.

Fort Qu'Appelle, SK: April 10, 2017

Participants

Approximately 13 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Muskowekwan First Nation
  • Piapot Cree Nation
  • Yorkton Tribal Council
  • Sakimay First Nation
  • Fishing Lake First Nation
  • Kahkewistahaw First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Fort Qu'Appelle, SK engagement session:

  • INAC should clearly communicate to First Nations why the federal government collects certain financial information and for what other purposes it may be used.
  • First Nations should disclose financial information to their membership and to the federal government, but should not be obligated to publish audited consolidated financial statements on a public website.
  • INAC should explore options to support financial training for First Nations members, which could assist them in holding their governments to account.
  • First Nations should be given more time to review annual funding agreements and to plan for new projects or initiatives.
  • INAC should reduce reporting requirements for First Nations who have demonstrated they are low-risk funding recipients.
  • First Nations should be given the opportunity to develop their own unique financial transparency laws.
  • First Nations should be provided flexibility in how they communicate financial information to their membership.
  • If communities were to pursue their own financial transparency laws, an appeal mechanism would be necessary in the event of non-compliance from First Nations. It was not specified what this mechanism would entail exactly, but could include involvement by the federal government or a First Nation institution.
  • The Government of Canada's accountability requirements to the Canadian public must be balanced with First Nations' requirement to have control over their own information. As an example, First Nations should provide an audit of all federal funding to the federal government for public disclosure, and another audit to their membership that includes own-source revenue.
  • The federal government should clarify how much funding devoted to First Nations is actually spent on federal overhead and administrative costs to provide better context to the Canadian public on the extent to which funding can reasonably be expected to achieve outcomes in First Nations communities.
  • First Nations should only be held accountable for the results in their communities to the extent that they receive sufficient funding to deliver on the expected outcomes.
  • The federal government should proactively disclose more of the salary and travel expenses of federal public servants.
  • INAC should explore the option of a First Nations ombudsman (either regional or community-specific positions).

Miramichi, NB: April 10, 2017

Participants

Approximately 14 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Buctouche Band
  • Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation
  • Fort Folly Band
  • Eel Ground Band
  • Esgenoopetitj First Nation
  • Pabineau Band
  • Eel River Bar First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Miramichi, NB engagement session:

  • First Nations have no objection to reporting to the public and to their membership on INAC funding. However, INAC should provide First Nations with more resources to support the time and effort required to report financial information that is clear and easy to understand.
  • INAC needs to be clearer on the level of detail and content required from First Nations when reporting on federal funding.
  • INAC should support the capacity of First Nations to generate their financial reports in order to reduce the administrative burden on First Nations governments.
  • INAC should increase support to First Nations self-governance, as recognized in treaties, so that First Nations can administer their own financial processes and requirements.
  • First Nation policies and practices should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • INAC should follow the recommendations outlined in previous auditor general reports, specifically in regards to addressing on-reserve needs.
  • INAC and First Nations should develop a mutually-agreeable approach to arrive at funding decisions collaboratively.
  • First Nation community members and the general public need to be continually educated on First Nation funding and spending to avoid misinterpretations.
  • Small First Nations with limited complexity of operations should have reduced reporting requirements as compared to larger First Nation communities.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations communicate financial results to their membership. Information also needs to be communicated in a way that is easy for their membership to understand.
  • First Nations should report to INAC solely on INAC funding. Funding received from other government departments should not be included in an INAC audit.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, the federal government should fund First Nations at the same level as the provinces, ensure an open dialogue, formally recognize First Nations, and honour all treaty agreements.
  • First Nations should be required to follow the same reporting standards as the provinces.
  • INAC should not develop new First Nations institutions until there is further clarification regarding their proposed structure, source of funding, and reporting framework. There was concern that the creation of additional First Nations institutions could lead to a reduction in funding to First Nations or an increase in their reporting burden.
  • There is no role for existing advocacy organizations to play in supporting First Nations transparency and accountability.
  • There may be a role for a federal financial transparency law if it is developed collaboratively with First Nations.

Paris, ON: April 11, 2017

Participants

Approximately 35 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Aamjiwnaang First Nation
  • Caldwell First Nation
  • Chippewas of Georgina Island
  • Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point
  • Chippewas of Nawash First Nation
  • Chippewas of the Thames
  • Curve Lake First Nation
  • Delaware Nation-Moravian of the Thames
  • Hiawatha First Nation
  • Mississaugas of the New Credit
  • Mississaugas of Scugog Island
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  • Munsee Delaware Nation
  • Ogemawahj Tribal Council
  • Oneida Nation of the Thames
  • Six Nations of Grand River
  • Southern First Nations Secretariat
  • Walpole Island First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Paris, ON engagement session:

  • First Nations should report to INAC on federal funding, but should not be required to disclose land claim money, or other own-source revenue amounts to INAC or to the general public.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. The federal government should not play a role in this except to provide funding and assist in developing capacity.
  • INAC should support the capacity of First Nations to generate their financial reports in order to reduce the administrative burden on First Nations governments.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding and communicate financial results to their membership. Factors such as the size and capacity of a community should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • First Nations should be given additional funding to hire dedicated financial administration staff to help with the financial management of their First Nation.
  • First Nations should be given more time to review annual funding agreements, plan for new projects or initiatives, and spend their funding.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability and these should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • INAC should explore options to support financial training for First Nations members, which could assist them in holding their governments to account .
  • INAC should clearly communicate to First Nations why the federal government collects certain financial information from First Nations.
  • INAC should better define and respect a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations.
  • There is not a need to create new organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions. Current organizations should be optimized before considering introducing new ones.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, there is no role for federal legislation in a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability.

Sudbury, ON: April 13, 2017

Participants

Approximately 48 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Atikameksheng First Nation
  • Attawapiskat First Nation
  • Batchewana First Nation
  • Beausoleil First Nation
  • Biigtigong Nishnaabeg
  • Brunswick House First Nation
  • Chapleau Cree First Nation
  • Dokis First Nation
  • Fort Albany First Nation
  • Garden River First Nation
  • Henvey Inlet First Nation
  • M'Chigeeng First Nation
  • Magnetawan First Nation
  • Matachewan First Nation
  • Mattagami First Nation
  • Michipicoten First Nation
  • Missinabie Cree First Nation
  • Nipissing First Nation
  • North Shore Tribal Council
  • Sheshegwaning First Nation
  • Serpent River First Nation
  • Taykwa Tagamou Nation
  • Temagami First Nation
  • Thessalon First Nation
  • United Chief & Councils of Mnidoo Mnising
  • Waabnoong Bemjiwang Assoc. of First Nation
  • Waabnong First Nation
  • Wabun Tribal Council
  • Wahgoshig First Nation
  • Wasauksing First Nation
  • Whitefish River First Nation
  • Wikwemikong First Nation
  • Zhiibaahaasing First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Sudbury, ON engagement session:

  • The First Nations Financial Transparency Act places uneven accountability and transparency expectations on First Nations. Accountability and transparency should be mutual concepts in a true nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and the federal government.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and the federal government, information on the federal government's financial activities, such as salaries of federal public servants should be made publically available.
  • The general public should be informed on how First Nations are funded by the federal government for community programs and services to avoid negative perceptions on the misappropriation of funds.
  • First Nations should provide financial information to their membership, but should not be obligated to disclose this information to the general public.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should be flexible enough to account for individual differences in First Nations communities such as capacity issues, size, remoteness and language.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations communicate financial results to their membership and the government should not have a say in this. Information also needs to be communicated in a way that is easy for their membership to understand.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more funding and resources to help increase their financial management capacity, in order support First Nations in being transparent and accountable to their membership. There should be consistency in the practices regardless of the political party in power.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden as First Nations already lack the resources to meet current reporting requirements.
  • Existing community-specific First Nation policies and practices should be included in a new framework for transparency and accountability.
  • First Nations should be responsible for developing accountability frameworks that address the unique needs of their community. The federal government should not play a role in this.
  • First Nations adequately supplied their membership with access to their community's financial information prior to the First Nations Financial Transparency Act through audit reports, regular updates to community members, community meetings and webpages.
  • Appeal mechanisms are an important tool for managing disputes and exist in many First Nation communities. These mechanisms should be developed by each community and are especially necessary in communities that lack established accountability frameworks.
  • Reporting practices should be agreed upon by First Nations. The audit is standard for external reporting; however, First Nations should be allowed to choose internal reporting practices and whether they want to release this information to the general public.
  • There is not a need to create new organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions. Current organizations should be optimized before considering introducing new ones, in order to avoid the duplication of roles.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, there is no role for federal legislation in a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability. The federal government should follow a minimum standard for consultation and collaboration when exploring the development of new policies and legislation for First Nations.

Thunder Bay, ON: April 18, 2017

Participants

Approximately 80 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and Tribal Councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Animakee Wa Zhiing #37
  • Animbiigoo Zaag'igan
  • Anishinabeg of Naongashing
  • Big Grassy First Nation
  • Biigtigong First Nation
  • BiinjitiwaabikZaaging Anishinabe
  • Cat Lake First Nation
  • Constance Lake First Nation
  • Couchiching First Nation
  • Deer Lake First Nation
  • Eabametoong First Nation
  • Flying Post
  • Fort Severn
  • Fort William
  • Ginoogaming First Nation
  • Independent First Nation Alliance
  • Kasabonika Lake First Nation
  • Keewaytinook Okimakanak Northern Tribal Council
  • Kingfisher Lake First Nation
  • Kitchenuhmaykoosib
  • Lac La Croix First Nation
  • Lac Suel First Nation
  • Long Lake #58 First Nation
  • Manitou/Rainy River First Nation
  • Marten Falls First Nation
  • McDowell Lake First Nation
  • Michipicoten First Nation
  • Mitaanjigaming First Nation
  • Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
  • Naotkamegwaning Education Authority
  • Naotkamegwanning First Nation
  • Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation
  • Nokiiwin Tribal Council
  • North Caribou Lake First Nation
  • Ochiiichagwe'babibo'ining
  • Ogemawahj Tribal Council
  • Ojibways of Onigaming
  • Pays Plat First Nation
  • Pikangikum
  • Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing-Ne-Yaa-Zhing
  • Red Rock First Nation
  • Sachigo Lake First Nation
  • Seine River First Nation
  • Shibogama First Nation Council
  • Shoal Lake #40 First Nation
  • Slate Falls First Nation
  • Wabigoon Lake First Nation
  • Wapekeka First Nation
  • Wauzhushk First Nation
  • Wawakapewin First Nation
  • Webeque Education Authority
  • Webequie First Nation
  • Whitesand First Nation
  • Windigo First Nation Council
  • Wunnimin Lake First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Thunder Bay, ON engagement session:

  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • Mutual accountability between First Nations and the federal government needs to be further explored in terms of what this means. More consultation with First Nations and an increased presence by First Nations at the minister's table is required.
  • Mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden for First Nations governments.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding and communicate financial results to their membership. Factors such as the size and capacity of a community should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. The federal government should not play a role in this except to provide funding and assist in developing capacity.
  • Funding to communities should cover audit fees and salary increases and vary based on geography.
  • The federal government should be more accountable to First Nations and to the general public and there should be a more accurate explanation by the government to the public about the context of federal funding to First Nations to avoid further misconceptions. Participants expressed that INAC should tell First Nations how much it spends on its own internal expenditures annually.
  • The Government of Canada's accountability requirements to the Canadian public must be balanced with First Nations' requirement to have control over the production and dissemination of their organizations' information. As an example, First Nations could provide an audit of all federal funding to the federal government for public disclosure, and another audit to their membership that includes own-source revenue.
  • First Nations should have flexibility in terms of how they communicate results to their membership. Flexibility is needed considering large differences in factors such as members' financial literacy, access to internet, residence on- or off-reserve, and access to transportation. One participant noted that their community translates financial results into syllabics for the elders to understand.
  • There may be a role for organizations to support communities that are not large enough, or do not have sufficient funding to support a strong administrative function.
  • Consideration should be given to expanding the role of existing organizations to perform oversight and assurance functions before considering creating new organizations, which would cost more money.
  • Participants suggested that funds used to support new institutions would be better invested in First Nation communities to support capacity (to hire financial and retain managers, provide training, and conduct audits).

Prince Albert, SK: April 19, 2017

Participants

Approximately 12 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Buffalo River Dene Nation
  • Fond du Lac Denesuline First Nation
  • Black Lake First Nation
  • Wahpeton Dakota Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Prince Albert, SK engagement session:

  • The federal government should increase its transparency toward First Nations. For example, if First Nations are required to disclose their financial information, then the federal government should disclose how much funding it provides across different portfolios, and ensure that First Nations are receiving adequate support, as compared to other government priorities.
  • INAC should clearly communicate to First Nations why the federal government collects certain financial information from First Nations.
  • INAC should disclose how much funding it receives from Treasury Board, for each First Nation.
  • A new way forward that supports mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased reporting burden for First Nations governments.
  • The general public needs to be continually educated on First Nation funding and spending to avoid misinterpretations.
  • First Nations should only be required to disclose their own source revenue amounts to their band members, and not to the federal government or the general public.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework.
  • In the absence of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability and these should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations communicate financial results to their membership. Information also needs to be communicated in a way that is easy for their membership to understand.
  • The federal government should be involved in First Nations accountability to their membership to the extent of explaining to First Nations leadership the decision-making process and formulas around funding to First Nation communities.
  • First Nations should have a primary role in defining a nation-to-nation relationship with the Government of Canada. A nation-to-nation relationship would include reviewing and changing reporting requirements for First Nation communities.
  • In order to better respond to community needs, First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible and should provide First Nations with greater control over how they spend federal funding.
  • In order to avoid duplicating existing structures, current First Nation organizations for oversight and assurance should be optimized before considering introducing new ones.
  • Any new organizations should not have a national scope, but should operate at a level that allows them to address the unique needs of the First Nation communities they serve.
  • First Nations need long term solutions to help manage debt over long periods of time, as well as to build capacity within their communities. For example, INAC should explore options to support financial training for First Nation band administrators.
  • INAC should prioritize addressing social issues impacting First Nation communities, such as housing and education.

Meadow Lake, SK: April 20, 2017

Participants

Approximately eight participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council
  • Onion Lake Cree Nation
  • Waterhen Lake First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Meadow Lake, SK engagement session:

  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, INAC should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of the provision of adequate funding to support programs and services, and other policy and funding decisions taken.
  • First Nations should only be held accountable for the performance of their programs to the extent that they receive sufficient funding to deliver on their expected outcomes.
  • INAC should prioritize addressing social issues impacting First Nation communities, such as housing and education. Better transparency and accountability will follow.
  • In order to better respond to community needs, First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible and should provide First Nations with greater control over how they spend federal funding.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more funding and resources to help increase their financial management capacity, as well as to support them in meeting current reporting requirements. These investments towards capacity development would help support First Nations in being transparent and accountable to their membership.
  • Participants registered concern that the First Nations Financial Transparency Act was put in place to address a problem with a small number of First Nations, where capacity development may have had stronger results.
  • First Nation policies and practices should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • First Nation financial reporting requirements should be developed on a nation-to-nation basis between the federal government and First Nations.
  • There may be a role for new First Nation institutions. However, there was concern that the creation of additional First Nation institutions could lead to a reduction in funding to First Nations, or duplicate existing First Nation oversight and assurance functions.
  • The Office of the Treaty Commissioner should be strengthened and be more involved in discussions with the federal government.

North Battleford, SK: April 21, 2017

Participants

Approximately 9 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nation leaders. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Sweetgrass First Nation
  • Poundmaker Cree Nation
  • Moosomin First Nation
  • Treaty Six Education Council
  • Cote First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the North Battleford, SK engagement session:

  • First Nations should be given additional funding to increase their staff and help pay for audit costs so that they can better meet current reporting requirements.
  • A new way forward that supports mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased reporting burden for First Nations governments.
  • The manner in which First Nations communicate financial results to their membership should be flexible, as long as the information is communicated in a way that is easy for their membership to understand. For example, third party consultants could help design forms that allow for financial information to be presented in a simplified format.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding. Factors such as access to internet and up-to-date technology should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • First Nations should provide their consolidated financial statements to their membership, but should not be obligated to disclose this information to the general public.
  • There should be flexibility with regards to how First Nations account for their own-source revenues; however, this information should only be made accessible to band members.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability, such as the use of open community meetings, social media, newsletters, and radio stations where financial information is shared in a variety of formats. These methods should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework.
  • The federal government should not play a role in First Nations accountability to their membership except when requested. For example, INAC could explain to First Nation members the decision-making processes and formulas for First Nation funding.
  • Transparency and accountability should be mutual concepts between First Nations and the federal government. For example, information on the federal government's financial activities, such as salaries of federal public servants should be made publically available.
  • There is a need for First Nation members and the general public to be educated on the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities. This could help address public misconceptions around First Nation communities being overfunded.
  • There may be a role for new First Nation organizations. However, there was concern that the creation of additional First Nations organizations could lead to a reduction in direct funding to First Nation communities.
  • The option of a First Nations Auditor General function should be explored. This position, and any other new organizations, should be led by First Nations, and should operate at a level that allows them to address the unique needs of the communities they serve.

Winnipeg, MB: April 21, 2017

Participants

Approximately 22 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Interlake Reserves Tribal Council Inc.
  • Pinaymootang First Nation
  • Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation
  • Lake Manitoba Band

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Winnipeg, MB engagement session:

  • First Nation reporting requirements should be reduced and a new way forward for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden on First Nations.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more funding and resources to help increase their financial management capacity, as well as to support them in meeting current reporting requirements. These investments towards capacity development would help support First Nations in being transparent and accountable to their membership.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability and these should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for establishing standards for accountability, with support from tribal councils.
  • First Nations should report on federal funding, but there should be flexibility with regards to disclosing own-source revenue amounts to INAC or to the general public.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding and communicate financial results to their membership as long as the information is accurate and clearly demonstrates how the First Nation administration is using the funding. Factors such as the size and capacity of a community should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • First Nations should use a standard audit format for reporting on financial results; however reports to their membership should be tailored in a manner that allows the majority of members without an accounting background to easily understand the financial information of their communities.
  • First Nations' chief and council should be the point of contact for appeal processes and additional policies and practices should be developed to guide appeal mechanisms.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, changes with regard to administrative policies and funding formulas should be clearly communicated to First Nations in a timely manner.
  • The role of INAC should be to set minimum standards for accountability, but this should be balanced with allowing First Nations to operate their band independently.
  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • INAC should better define a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations.
  • An independent First Nation advisory committee should be created to provide oversight over INAC and work with chief and councils to offer support to communities in need of assistance. The committee would be comprised of First Nation representatives from each province.
  • INAC should create a new position within INAC whose role would be to advocate for First Nations, as opposed to acting as a neutral arbitrator.
  • There may be a role for federal legislation to facilitate the creation of an Ombudsman or Indigenous auditor general function; however this may not be beneficial to all First Nation communities. The federal government should explore options for capacity development within existing First Nation organizations before creating new ones.

The Pas, MB: April 25, 2017

Participants

Approximately 25 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Chemawawin Cree Nation
  • Misapawistik Cree Nation
  • Mosakahiken Cree Nation
  • Opaskwayak Cree Nation
  • Sapotaweyak Cree Nation
  • Swampy Cree Tribal Council Inc.
  • Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at The Pas, MB engagement session:

  • First Nations' reporting requirements should be tailored in a manner that allows the majority of members to understand the financial information of their communities.
  • INAC needs to be clearer on the level of detail and content required from First Nations when reporting on federal funding.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more resources to support the time and effort required to generate their financial reports, in order to reduce the administrative burden on First Nation governments.
  • The manner in which First Nation communicate financial results to their membership should be flexible, as long as the information is accurate and clearly demonstrates how the First Nation administration is using the funding.
  • INAC should provide clarity on the distinction between consultations and engagements. This would help support mutual transparency between First Nations and the Government of Canada.
  • INAC and First Nations should develop a mutually agreeable approach to arrive at funding decisions collaboratively.
  • Mutual transparency and accountability should include direct and ongoing communication between INAC and First Nations.
  • First Nations should create their own policies and procedures for transparency and accountability. Federal institutions may play a role in assisting First Nations as long as they work with communities to understand their unique needs and challenges.
  • The general public needs to be educated on First Nation funding and spending to avoid misinterpretations.
  • There may be a role for new First Nation organizations in First Nations' transparency and accountability. However, there was concern that the creation of additional organizations could lead to a reduction in direct funding to First Nation communities.
  • There may be a role for federal financial transparency law if it is developed collaboratively with First Nations.

Portage la Prairie, MB: May 3, 2017

Participants

Approximately 9 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Birdtail Sioux Band
  • Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council Inc.
  • Dakota Tipi Band
  • Swan Lake Band
  • Waywayseecappo First Nation Treaty Four - 1874

Priorities and key issues discussed

Here is a brief summary of what was heard at the Portage la Prairie engagement session:

  • Where First Nations have their own financial transparency laws in place, federal legislation should not apply. First Nations should have the authority to make and enforce laws on their own land.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability and these should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework. However, First Nation communities require additional funding for human resources in order to further develop and maintain these policies.
  • First Nations should not be required to disclose own-source revenue amounts to the federal government or to the general public. There is concern that as own-source revenue increases, federal funding for programs and services decreases.
  • Mechanisms for reporting on federal funding should be standard; however, each First Nation should be allowed to determine how to report on their own-source revenue amounts.
  • Additional funding should be available to First Nations if the administrative burden associated with financial reporting increases, as First Nations already lack the resources needed to meet current reporting requirements.
  • There should be more background context on funding and expenditures at all levels of government to put First Nation funding in context and improve public confidence.
  • The federal government should clarify how much funding devoted to First Nations is spent on community programs and services, as well as identify areas where First Nations are underfunded.
  • The First Nations Financial Transparency Act did not make financial information more accessible to First Nation communities. In its absence, INAC can ensure First Nation members have a means to access their band's financial information.
  • First Nations have appeal mechanisms in place for members to hold their First Nation government to account; however these can be costly.
  • Conversely, INAC needs to have established mechanisms in place for First Nations governments to appeal policy and funding decisions made by INAC.
  • There is no need to create new organizations, as too many exist already and the creation of new organizations could dilute funding that should go to First Nation communities.

Quebec, QC: May 3, 2017

Participants

Approximately 60 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were band council Chiefs or delegates, director generals of band and tribal councils, as well as representatives from First Nation organizations. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Akwesasne
  • Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council
  • First Nations Human Resources Development Commission of Quebec (FNHRDCQ)
  • Conseil algonquin
  • Conseil de la nation Atikamekw
  • Conseil tribal ANPSS
  • The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC)
  • Ékuanitshit
  • Essipit
  • Gesgapegiag
  • Gespeg
  • Institut Tshakapesh
  • Kahnawake
  • Kanesatake
  • Kawawachikamach
  • Kebaowek
  • Kitcisakik
  • Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
  • Lac Simon
  • Listuguj
  • Long Point
  • Mamit Innuat
  • Manawan
  • Mashteuiatsh
  • Matimekush-Lac John
  • Mi'gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat – Listuguj
  • Nutashkuan
  • Odanak
  • Opitciwan
  • Pakua Shipu
  • Pessamit
  • Timiskaming
  • Uashat
  • Unamen Shipu
  • Wemotaci
  • Wendake
  • Wôlinak

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a summary of what was heard at the Quebec, QC engagement session:

  • INAC should better define and respect a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations.
  • The federal government should be more accountable to First Nations and to the general public by providing more context around how federal funding to First Nations is calculated, as well as how much of INAC's budget is spent on First Nation programs and services as compared to administrative costs.
  • As part of mutual transparency and accountability between First Nations and the federal government, information on the federal government's financial activities, such as salaries of federal public servants should be made publically available.
  • The federal government should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of honouring treaty commitments and providing adequate funding to support programs and services.
  • First Nations should be fully included in all decision-making processes that concern them, to help build a more trusting relationship with the Government of Canada.
  • The general public should be informed on how First Nations are funded by the federal government for community programs and services, to avoid negative perceptions on the misappropriation of funds.
  • First Nations reporting requirements should be reduced as First Nations already lack the resources to meet current reporting requirements.
  • First Nations should only be required to report on federal funding and their own source revenue amounts to their band members, and not to the general public.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding. First Nations should share and build upon best practices with regards to financial reporting.
  • Reporting practices should be agreed upon by First Nations. For example, the federal government should develop a single streamlined and consolidated report for reporting on federal funding that would include all necessary and relevant information.
  • First Nations develop specific outcomes and results relative to the funding provided to their communities. Adding results-based information would make financial reporting more meaningful.
  • First Nations should follow minimum standards for communicating financial results to their membership. However, there should be flexibility with regards to the methods used for communicating these results.
  • Third-parties should not be involved in the management of First Nations governments because this often further damages communities.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and have sole responsibility over all other decision-making processes that concern them, including the development of accountability frameworks.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability, such as community meetings, social media, committees, and election processes. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • New and existing organizations may have a role to play in supporting First Nations, but only if they have the resources and funding needed to support these communities.
  • The creation of a central First Nations government and a First Nations auditor general function should be explored.
  • First Nations' chief and council are the main point of contact for appeal processes and additional policies and practices should be developed to guide appeal mechanisms that are unique to each community.
  • There is no role for federal legislation in a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability. However, a clear set of standards should be developed to ensure First Nations are accountable to their membership.
  • First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible in order account for individual differences in First Nations communities.
  • INAC should explore options to support financial training for First Nations members, which could assist them in holding their governments to account.

Corner Brook, NL: May 10, 2017

Participants

Approximately 8 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nations leaders. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Miawpukek First Nation
  • Qalipu Mikmaq First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Corner Brook, NL engagement session:

  • INAC should prioritize addressing social issues impacting First Nations communities, such as cultural and linguistic preservation. Better transparency and accountability will follow.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, the federal government should adopt similar reporting requirements and funding mechanisms as those in place for provinces and territories. This would help improve trust between First Nations and the Government of Canada.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden on First Nations, as current reporting requirements are already too onerous and complex.
  • INAC needs to be clearer on the level of detail and content required from First Nations when reporting on federal funding, as well as the reasoning behind why First Nations' financial information is posted online.
  • The same reporting requirements should not apply to all First Nations. For example, there should be more flexibility for First Nations who have demonstrated they are low-risk funding recipients.
  • There is concern that the requirement under the First Nations Financial Transparency Act to post financial information online has put First Nations at a competitive disadvantage. As a potential solution, First Nations could provide an audit of all federal funding to the federal government for public disclosure, and a more detailed audit to their membership that includes own-source revenue.
  • The posting of First Nations' financial information online has contributed to the media's negative portrayal of First Nations communities because the public is not provided with the context needed to understand this information.
  • The general public needs to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, the context behind finances in First Nations communities, and First Nations' accomplishments.
  • First Nations should be provided flexibility in how they communicate financial information and are accountable to their membership.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability, such as the use of open community meetings, social media, newsletters, surveys, and roundtable discussions where financial information is discussed in a variety of formats. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • First Nations have appeal mechanisms in place for members to hold their First Nations government to account. Chief and Council are often the main point of contact for members to file appeals and complaints related to a range of financial and program decisions.
  • The federal government may play a role in supporting First Nations who have consistently struggled with being transparent and accountable to their membership. However, if this has not been an issue for a First Nations, then the federal government should not be involved.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. There is no role for federal legislation in this regard.
  • The creation of new First Nations organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions should be explored. This may include an Indigenous Auditor General position.
  • The creation of an Indigenous ombudsperson should be explored. This position should have a mandate to provide oversight over all federal departments, and should be jointly selected by First Nations and the federal government.

Whitehorse, YT: May 17, 2017

Participants

Approximately 4 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nations leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Dease River First Nation
  • White River First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Whitehorse, YT engagement session:

  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden as First Nations already have difficulties meeting current reporting requirements.
  • Reporting standards should be developed at the community level to accommodate the unique needs of each First Nations community.
  • Small or remote communities face unique challenges due to many changes in leadership, limited access to services, and higher maintenance and travel costs which all impact a First Nation's ability to meet reporting requirements, as well as develop bylaws and constitutions. These limitations should be considered in a new framework for transparency and accountability.
  • First Nations should only be required to disclose their own source revenue amounts to their band members, and not to the federal government or the general public.
  • First Nations should have a primary role in establishing standards, providing oversight and assurance, supporting transparency and accountability, and improving public confidence.
  • Prior to the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA), First Nations had a practice of reporting to membership that was more comprehensive than current reporting requirements. The FNFTA contributes to the impression that First Nations are not being accountable to their membership.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of social media, community newsletters and regular community meetings.  These should not only be taken into account, but also should form the basis of a new transparency and accountability framework.
  • Due to variability in the financial literacy rates amongst First Nations members, financial information should be shared in multiple formats, using a variety of methods.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, the federal government should play a more supportive role in First Nations accountability to membership, such as explaining to First Nations members how funding sources function, and keeping them informed of changes to formulas. This would help to alleviate pressure from Chief and Council.
  • The federal government should provide better context to the general public on First Nations financial information and the true cost of managing a community to avoid further misconceptions.
  • Mutual transparency and accountability between First Nations and the federal government should include the public disclosure of information on the federal government's financial activities, as well as the salaries of federal public servants.
  • Creating additional organizations would only add to existing accountability and transparency structures, and exacerbate already onerous reporting requirements.
  • First Nations organizations have become too large and disconnected from the needs of their communities. If First Nations organizations are to have a role in First Nations' transparency and accountability, a bottom-up approach should be employed.

Brokenhead, MB: May 18, 2017

Participants

Approximately 40 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Barren Lands First Nation
  • Bunibonibee Cree Nation
  • Cross Lake Band of Indians
  • Fox Lake Cree Nation
  • God's Lake First Nation
  • Keewatin Tribal Council
  • Manto Sipi Cree Nation
  • Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation
  • O Pipon Na Piwin Cree Nation
  • Sayisi Dene First Nation
  • Shamattawa First Nation
  • Tataskweyak Cree Nation
  • War Lake First Nation
  • York Factory First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Brokenhead, MB engagement session:

  • The federal government should be more accountable to First Nations and to the general public. For example, the federal government should provide a more accurate explanation to the public about why First Nations receive federal funding. This would also help reduce public misconceptions.
  • Increases in funding amounts are not comparable to the growth rate of First Nations communities. This results in insufficient funding and an inability of First Nations to meet basic community needs.
  • The federal government's reporting requirements should respect First Nations' right to privacy and confidentiality, particularly with regards to own-source revenue as reporting on own-source revenue could place First Nations at an economic disadvantage. First Nations should only report to the department government on federal funding.
  • There should be more consultation from the federal government when developing new policies and legislation for First Nations. Consultation with First Nations as part of a new framework for mutual transparency should be more comprehensive and take place earlier in the decision-making process.

Terrace, BC: June 1, 2017

Participants

Approximately 7 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Gitwangak Band Council
  • Gitksan Government Commission
  • Kispiox Band Council
  • Kitselas First Nation
  • Tahltan Band Council

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Terrace, BC engagement session:

  • INAC should better define and respect a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations. For example, a nation-to-nation relationship should include mutual transparency and accountability.
  • To help build a more trusting relationship with the Government of Canada, First Nations should be fully included in all decision-making processes that concern them. For example, changes about administrative policies and funding formulas should be clearly communicated to First Nations in a timely manner.
  • First Nations should have the ability to appeal and negotiate decisions. There should be mechanisms to ensure that the federal government is held to account for the decisions it makes with regard to funding.
  • Financial reporting requirements should be developed on a nation-to-nation basis between the federal government and First Nations.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and all should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of open community meetings where financial information is shared. These should be included in a new framework for transparency and accountability.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more funding and resources to help increase their financial management capacity, as well as to support them in meeting current reporting requirements. These investments towards capacity development would help support First Nations in being transparent and accountable to their membership.
  • The use of standardized information and technology (IT) programs such as the Aboriginal Information System could help First Nations with their financial budgeting and program reporting, but that more funding is needed to cover IT and internal costs.
  • There is not a need to create new organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions. To avoid the duplication of roles, current organizations should be optimized before considering introducing new ones.
  • There may be a role for a federal financial transparency law if it is developed collaboratively with First Nations.

Fort St. John, BC: June 6, 2017

Participants

Approximately 7 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Halfway River First Nation
  • Fort Nelson First Nation
  • Saulteau First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Fort St. John, BC engagement session:

  • First Nations should report to the public on the use of public (federal) funds only.
  • The Government of Canada / Indigenous Services Canada should improve its website to make locating information easier and more accessible.
  • Concerns were expressed over the level of funding provided to First Nations and the need to update funding formulas to ensure adequate funding is provided. Reporting requirements and associated costs should be scaled to the amount of federal funds received. This would help support First Nations in building capacity in their communities.
  • First Nations policies and practices should be considered as part of a transparency and accountability framework. Additionally, community accountability policies and laws should take precedence over federal legislation.
  • First Nations and their organizations should have a primary role in developing standards and providing oversight and assurance that support transparency and accountability in their communities.
  • First Nations and the Government of Canada have a role to play in improving public perceptions of how First Nations manage themselves. For example, this can be done by focusing on truth and reconciliation, as well as explaining how funds are provided and spent in communities, and comparing these to the actual cost of providing community programs and services.
  • If a First Nation is failing to meet its accountability requirements the Government of Canada may have a role in supporting First Nations communities to develop capacity. For example, the federal government should provide sufficient funding to support the preparation and audit of consolidated financial statements.
  • It would be beneficial to have an independent oversight body to provide oversight and assurance functions, and to be available to advocate for First Nations members as a neutral party. Any new organizations require new funding – funds should not come at the cost of First Nations community programming.

Yellowknife, NWT: June 6, 2017

Participants

Approximately 44 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nations leaders and tribal council officials. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Acho Dene Koe First Nation
  • Aklavik
  • Behdzi Ahda First Nation
  • Deline First Nation
  • Deh Gah Gotie First Nation
  • Dene Nation
  • Gwichya Gwichin Council
  • Inuvik Native
  • Jean Marie River First Nation
  • Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation
  • K'asho Gotine
  • Katlodeeche First Nation
  • Killick Leadership Group
  • Liidlii Kue First Nation
  • Lutselke K'e Dene First Nation
  • Nahanni Butte
  • Pehdzeh Ki First Nation
  • Salt River First Nation #195
  • Sambaa K'e First Nation
  • Tetlit Gwich'in Council
  • Tlicho Government
  • Tulita Dene
  • West Point First Nation
  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Yellowknife, NWT engagement session:

  • INAC should communicate more proactively with First Nations on a regular basis. For example, providing a rationale for funding proposal decisions in a timely, effective manner would help support a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability.
  • The division of responsibilities between INAC and the Government of Northwest Territories is unclear, which can result in confusion and unnecessary oversight. INAC and the government of Northwest Territories should establish clear jurisdictional responsibilities to best meet the needs of First Nations.
  • The federal government and First Nations should work more collaboratively to establish standards supporting mutual transparency and accountability between First Nations and the federal government.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should incorporate the traditional values and practices of First Nations into policies. For example, this could include adding results-based evaluations and ensuring information on transparency and accountability is accessible to all First Nations.
  • The reporting process should be simplified and additional funding should be available to First Nations to support current reporting requirements, provide training, and increase capacity.
  • There should be a distinction between the funding and reporting requirements of northern and southern bands, as Northern communities often have higher costs associated with services and transportation.
  • One report for all funding and expenditures may be more manageable and could facilitate an improved working relationship between First Nations and the federal government.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their membership, and members should have more input into decision-making processes that concern them.
  • The government of Northwest Territories plays a large role in First Nations funding programming and accountability, and should be present at engagement sessions involving INAC and First Nations.
  • There was concern that the creation of new organizations would add more levels of bureaucracy and reduce the availability of already limited funding. New organizations should only be created if there are long term funds to support them.
  • The costs associated with joining groups such as AFOA Canada and other First Nations organizations can be a barrier for remote First Nations communities, and thus limit their participation in these organizations despite the benefits of professional and community development.

Prince George, BC: June 8, 2017

Participants

Approximately 12 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Carrier Sekani Family Services
  • Lake Babine Nation
  • Burns Lake Development Company
  • Tsay Keh Dene First Nation
  • Lheidli T'enneh First Nation
  • Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation
  • Tlazten First Nation
  • Stellat'en First Nation
  • Nadleh Whut'en First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Prince George, BC engagement session:

  • As part of mutual transparency and accountability, the federal government should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of the provision of adequate funding to support programs and services, and other policy and funding decisions taken.
  • INAC should clearly communicate to First Nations changes to reporting requirements, as well as the purposes for these reports.
  • INAC should provide feedback to First Nations on their financial reports.
  • The federal government should increase its transparency toward First Nations by disclosing information on internal expenditures, including its budgets for staffing. In this regard, INAC should increase their number of staff so that it can respond to First Nations' needs more efficiently.
  • INAC should provide First Nations with more funding and resources to help increase their financial management capacity, as well as to support them in meeting current reporting requirements. These investments towards capacity development would help support First Nations in being transparent and accountable to their membership.
  • First Nations should report on federal funding, but should not be required to disclose their own-source revenue amounts to INAC or to the general public. There is concern that disclosing own-source revenues will put First Nations at a competitive disadvantage or lead to a decrease in federal funding.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations report on federal funding. Factors such as the size and capacity of a community should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • The First Nations Financial Transparency Act has solicited a lot of discussion within First Nations communities, and has emphasized Chief and Council's responsibility to their membership.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability and self-government frameworks. The federal government should not play a role in this, except to provide additional funding to communities to support the development of these frameworks.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as community meetings, committees, and websites, where financial information is discussed in a variety of formats. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • To better respond to community needs, First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible and should provide First Nations with greater control over how and when they spend federal funding. This would help increase trust between INAC and First Nations.
  • INAC should increase flexibility with regard to First Nation funding sources, as well as perform a complete review of its funding formulas.
  • Individual needs of First Nations communities should be identified before funding is determined to assess how to best meet the needs of the community with the funding available.
  • Appeal mechanisms are an important tool for First Nation members to hold their governments to account, and these exist in many First Nation communities. However, these can be costly to develop and access.
  • The general public needs to be continually educated on First Nations funding and spending to avoid misinterpretations.
  • The presence of new or existing independent organizations to provide oversight and assurance functions should be explored. An example of this would be to create a First Nations ombudsperson. However, there is concern around how much this would cost and which entities would provide these funds.

Fort Qu'Appelle, SK: June 9, 2017

Participants

Approximately 7 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations affiliated with the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council, including elected and administrative First Nations leaders and First Nations members. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Carry The Kettle
  • File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council
  • Nekaneet
  • Okanese
  • Star Blanket Cree Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Fort Qu'Appelle, SK engagement session:

  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, INAC should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of the provision of adequate funding to support programs and services, and other policy and funding decisions taken.
  • First Nations should be given additional funding to help pay for audit costs and to increase financial management training so that they can better meet current reporting requirements.
  • The federal government should increase its transparency toward First Nations. For example, the federal government should clarify how much funding devoted to First Nations is actually spent on community programs and services, as compared to the amount spent on administrative costs for the federal government.
  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, including the importance of respecting treaties, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible to account for individual differences, and to provide communities with more time to spend their funds. Additionally, INAC should perform a complete review of its funding formulas.
  • There should be flexibility as to how First Nations report on federal funding and communicate financial results to their membership. Factors such as cultural norms and other differences among communities should be taken into consideration when determining reporting requirements.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden, as First Nations already lack the resources to meet current reporting requirements.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of a Financial Management Act, financial committees, community meetings, and newsletters where financial information is shared in a variety of formats. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • First Nations should only be required to disclose their own source revenue amounts to their band members, and not to the federal government or the general public. There is concern that providing this information to the general public only creates misunderstandings, and may lead to a reduction in federal funding.
  • There is not a need to create new organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions. There was concern that the creation of additional organizations could lead to a reduction in direct funding to First Nations.
  • Instead of creating new organizations, current organizations, such as the formerly Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA) and tribal councils should be given more authority and ability to support First Nations in building capacity.
  • The creation of a First Nations ombudsperson should be explored. This position should operate at a regional level and be aware of the cultural norms that exist in the communities it serves, in order to effectively address the issues impacting various First Nations.
  • There is no role for federal legislation in a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability. Issues around a Nation's transparency and accountability should be addressed within each community.

River Cree, Enoch First Nation, Edmonton, AB: June 12, 2017

Participants

Approximately 12 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were Chiefs, councillors, political advisors, finance controllers, and executive directors from the Treaty 6, 7, and 8 areas of Alberta. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Beaver First Nation
  • Driftpile Cree Nation
  • O'Chiese First Nation
  • Sawridge First Nation
  • Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation
  • Tha First Nation
  • Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc.

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the River Cree, Enoch First Nation, Edmonton, AB engagement session:

  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, the INAC should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of the provision of adequate funding to support programs and services, and other policy and funding decisions taken.
  • INAC should prioritize addressing social issues impacting First Nation communities, such as education and infrastructure.
  • The First Nations Financial Transparency Act places unequal accountability and transparency expectations on First Nations. Accountability and transparency should be mutual concepts in a true nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and the ederal government.
  • Mutual transparency and accountability should include direct and ongoing communication and collaboration between the federal government and First Nations. For example, the federal government should provide more context around First Nations funding formulas, as well as federal spending.
  • The general public should be informed on how First Nations are funded by the federal government for community programs and services in order to avoid negative perceptions around First Nations being overfunded.
  • In order to better respond to community needs, First Nations' funding agreements should be more flexible and should provide First Nations with greater control over how and when they spend federal funding.
  • First Nations are required to complete more reports as compared to other governments in Canada, which does not represent a nation-to-nation relationship. There was concern that the federal government is using the information collected in reports in order to reduce funding for First Nations programs.
  • First Nations should report on federal funding, but should not be required to disclose own-source revenue amounts to INAC or to the general public. There is concern that disclosing own-source revenue would place First Nations at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Additional capacity development is needed in order to support First Nations in working with the federal government on a nation-to-nation basis.
  • First Nations should be given additional funding to help pay for audit costs so that they can better meet current reporting requirements.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members, not the general public, and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. As such, there is no need for the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of community meetings, financial committees, and websites where financial information is shared and discussed in a variety of formats. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.

Kamloops, BC: June 13, 2017

Participants

Approximately 12 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • ?Aq'am
  • Cayoose Creek-Sekwalwas
  • Lhtako Dene Nation
  • Nazko First Nation
  • Tsal'alh
  • Xwisten First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Kamloops, BC engagement session:

  • The federal government should be accountable to members by disclosing how much funding devoted to First Nations is actually spent on federal overhead such as salaries, infrastructure, rent, and travel.
  • The Government of Canada should eliminate double standards. For example, First Nations' reporting requirements are excessive while other recipients of federal contributions don't have such onerous reporting.
  • Another example of a double standard that was provided was that First Nations are held accountable and may lose their funding if they don't report back accurately and on time for the funding provided, while INAC changes its rules and policies with limited notice, and is not held accountable for the consequences of these actions and decisions.
  • The Government of Canada should be accountable to First Nations for the revenues gained from First Nations lands and resources.
  • First Nations' reporting should either be reduced or First Nations should be given additional funding to increase their staff and better meet current reporting requirements.
  • Flexibility in reporting is necessary since every First Nations community has different needs and capacity levels. First Nations should receive and report on funding according to these differences.
  • First Nations should prioritize reporting to their membership to increase trust in their leadership. As such, they should be responsible for developing their own transparency and accountability policies and practices.
  • The federal government should not have a say in how a First Nation is accountable to its membership.
  • First Nations should only report to the federal government on federal funding.
  • First Nations financial statements should not be required, by the federal government, to be published on-line, as this implies an accountability relationship with the general public. However, financial statements should always be available to First Nations members.
  • First Nations are increasingly using their own-source revenues to top-up inadequate and outdated federal funding formulas.
  • INAC needs to educate the general public on why First Nations receive federal funding and how these investments contribute to the Canadian economy. As well, the public needs to understand that money transferred to a First Nations goes to support programs and services and is not provided to individuals.

Nanaimo, BC: June 15, 2017

Participants

Approximately 11 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Ahousaht First Nation
  • K'ómoks First Nation
  • Halalt First Nation
  • Kwakiutl Indian Band
  • Nanoose First Nation
  • Qualicum First Nation
  • Quatsino First Nation
  • Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
  • We Wai Kai Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Nanaimo, BC engagement session:

  • Concerns were expressed around the level of funding provided to First Nations and the need to update funding formulas to ensure accurate funding is provided. The federal government should provide more information to First Nations on how federal funding to First Nations is calculated, and be more accountable for policy and funding decisions taken.
  • First Nations should be able to identify the funding needs of their own community. Funding amounts should be based on an assessment of needs with input from First Nations, rather than through funding formulas developed by INAC.
  • To pursue long-term economic development, there is a need for certainty and sustainability in funding amounts. First Nations should develop the means to be self-sufficient rather than rely on federal funding.
  • The availability of block-funding provided to First Nations should increase because this type of funding provides more flexibility to First Nations compared to other types of federal funding.
  • INAC should review its reporting requirements and processes for First Nations to submit reports, as the current online system is difficult to navigate and there is a lack of communication from INAC in response to reports submitted.
  • First Nations reporting requirements and audits should be reduced. AFOA Canada could play a role in training First Nations on how to complete audits to help reduce the administrative burden on First Nations.
  • First Nations should be given additional funding to support capacity development and train administrative staff.
  • First Nations should report to INAC on federal funding, but should only be accountable to their membership for own-source revenue amounts. There was concern that publically disclosing own-source revenues could put First Nations at an economic disadvantage.
  • The requirement to publish financial information online can create misunderstandings among First Nations membership.
  • Chief and Council are primarily accountable to their membership for decisions made in their community as part of a transparency and accountability framework. Additionally, First Nation members should be involved in decision-making processes related to the financial management and strategic direction of their community.
  • First Nations already have their own human resources and governance policies to ensure accountability of their leadership. Additionally, each First Nations community should develop their own code of ethics.
  • Rather than appealing to the federal government on issues related to their First Nation's accountability, First Nations members should have the ability to appeal to a council of Elders.

Chilliwack, BC: June 20, 2017

Participants

Approximately 8 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were elected and administrative First Nations leaders. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Aitchelitz Band
  • Chawathil First Nation
  • Spuzzum First Nation
  • Popkum First Nation
  • Yakweakwioose First Nation
  • Skowkale First Nation
  • Union Bar Indian Band

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Chilliwack, BC engagement session:

  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should be developed based on a relationship of trust between First Nations and the Government of Canada.
  • The concept of a nation-to-nation relationship needs to be defined. More clarity is needed with regard to the role of First Nations in a nation-to-nation relationship and how they contribute to financial decisions that concern them.
  • First Nations should be funded directly by their provincial governments for services that fall under provincial jurisdiction, as opposed to the federal government being involved in these processes.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should not result in an increased administrative burden, as First Nations already lack the resources to meet current reporting requirements. In this regard, reporting requirements should be reduced, which would also help decrease the financial burden on communities.
  • Reporting requirements should take into consideration the size and administrative capacity of each First Nation. For example, as opposed to using standardized reports, INAC should develop tailored reports for smaller First Nations that better reflect the First Nation's goals, needs, and available funds.
  • The federal government should play a larger role in helping to develop capacity amongst First Nations, in particular those with a smaller administrative capacity. For example, INAC should provide additional funding to First Nations to help them generate their financial reports.
  • First Nations should not be required to disclose own-source revenue amounts to the federal government or to the general public. There is concern that disclosing this information will place First Nations in breach of their contract or business arrangements.
  • If the First Nations Financial Transparency Act remains in place, INAC should require audits for larger bands, but bands who receive below a certain funding amount (for example, $100,000) should be exempt from this requirement.
  • Many First Nations have their own standards and laws for accountability and communicating financial results to their membership. The federal government should not play a role in this.
  • There should be more media coverage on the success stories of First Nations' accountability to help strengthen a positive public image.

Vancouver, BC: June 26, 2017

Participants

Approximately 16 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal councils. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nations organizations were present:

  • Aitchelitz Band
  • Gitxaala Nation
  • Haisla First Nation
  • Lil'wat First Nation
  • Nuxalk Nation
  • Peters Band
  • Kwantlen First Nation
  • Skidegate Band Council
  • Skwah First Nation
  • Tsal'alh
  • Squamish Nation
  • ?Esdilagh First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Vancouver, BC engagement session:

  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, INAC should work in collaboration with First Nations to address social issues impacting communities. In addition, it should provide more funding to increase First Nations' governance capacity. Better transparency and accountability will follow.
  • A tripartite agreement between the federal government, provinces, and First Nations should be established to help rectify power imbalances.
  • First Nations should have a primary role in defining a nation-to-nation relationship with the Government of Canada. Each First Nation should be considered and respected as an individual government.
  • The federal government should perform a complete review of its funding models so that they embody a whole of government approach. Additionally INAC's programs and services should be reviewed to increase their transparency.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and the federal government, information on the federal government's financial activities, such as salaries of federal public servants should be made publically available.
  • The federal government should increase its transparency toward First Nations. For example, the federal government should provide detailed reports on its spending, and provide information on its financial activities, including how much funding it allocates directly to First Nations communities, as compared to organizations that support First Nations.
  • INAC needs to be clearer on the level of detail and content required from First Nations when reporting on federal funding.
  • First Nations reporting requirements should be reduced and First Nations should be given additional funding to help pay for audit costs so that they can better meet these requirements.
  • First Nations should only be required to disclose their Chief and Council schedules of remuneration and own-source revenue amounts to their membership and not to the federal government or the general public.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. The federal government should not play a role in this.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of Constitutions, Financial Administration Laws, governance policies and bylaws, territorial holistic laws, and electoral codes. These should be taken into account when developing a transparency and accountability framework.
  • A new framework for mutual transparency and accountability should include standardized, basic policies for accountability. This would ensure there are minimum standards for First Nations to follow, particularly those that don't have their own frameworks already in place. For example, all First Nations should prepare and provide audited financial statements, at minimum.
  • Any new policies, frameworks, and reporting requirements should be informed by First Nations' cultures, and tailored to the needs of each community.
  • There should be flexibility in how First Nations communicate financial results to their membership, and INAC should support their capacity to do for this.
  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • First Nations have appeal mechanisms in place for members to hold their First Nation government to account; however the federal government should provide more funding to support communities in implementing these mechanisms.
  • Appeal mechanisms should include options to be heard by Chief and Council, as well as audit or financial committees composed of elected members of the community.
  • There was concern around the role of Indigenous Representative Organizations within a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability, as they create competition for resources and services.
  • There should be one organization responsible for establishing policies and practices for First Nations' transparency and accountability.
  • Organizations, such as AFOA Canada, the First Nations Financial Management Board, Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Health Council, First Nations Leadership Council, and First Nations Tax Commission could all play a role in supporting First Nations' transparency and accountability. For example, they could help with capacity building, establishing best practices, developing systems, and liaising with the federal government.
  • There may be a role for new organizations to provide independent oversight and assurance functions, as an interim measure while a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability is being developed. However, any new organizations must understand First Nations' needs and be informed of traditional practices already in place.
  • There was concern that creating new organizations would result in a reduction of direct funding to First Nations communities, increase bureaucracy, or result in the duplication of roles.
  • The options of an Indigenous auditor general and ombudsperson position should be explored. These positions would help address complaints and appeals from First Nations members. Additionally, an auditor general role should have a regional, as opposed to national, mandate.
  • The First Nations Financial Transparency Act is not effective or needed. Any new legislation should be co-developed between First Nations and the Government of Canada.

Winnipeg, MB: June 27, 2017

Participants

Approximately 26 participants attended this engagement session. The participants were First Nations and tribal council representatives. Individuals from the following First Nations and First Nation organizations were present:

  • Barren lands First Nation
  • Berens River First Nation
  • Blood Vein First Nation
  • Bunibonibee Cree Nation
  • God's Lake First Nation
  • Keewatin Tribal Council
  • Lake Manitoba First Nation
  • Manto Sipi Cree Nation
  • Nisichawayashik Cree Nation
  • Norway House Cree Nation
  • Pauingassi First Nation
  • Red Sucker Lake First Nation
  • St. Theresa Point First Nation
  • Tataskweyak Cree Nation
  • War Lake First Nation

Priorities and key issues discussed

The following is a brief summary of what was heard at the Winnipeg, MB engagement session:

  • The federal government should better define and respect a nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations.
  • Accountability and transparency should be mutual concepts in a true nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and the Government of Canada. For example, the federal government should be accountable for its spending, as well as honour its treaties with First Nations.
  • As part of a nation-to-nation relationship, INAC should be more accountable to First Nations in terms of the provision of adequate funding to support programs and services, and other policy and funding decisions taken.
  • First Nation reporting requirements should be reduced, and INAC should provide additional funding to First Nations to help increase their financial management capacity and cover the costs of audits.
  • There is concern that First Nations are required to include off-reserve members in their reports, despite only having received funding for on-reserve members.
  • Reporting standards should apply to all First Nations regardless of their size and complexity of operations. However, the amount of reporting required of a First Nations should take into consideration these factors, in addition to a community's funding level and location.
  • First Nations are primarily accountable to their members and should be responsible for developing their own accountability framework. This would also help ensure that individual First Nations' cultures and traditions are acknowledged and respected.
  • First Nations have their own policies and practices for transparency and accountability such as the use of quarterly and annual community meetings, committees, "open-door" policies, websites, social media, and radio stations where financial information is shared in a variety of formats. These should form the basis of a transparency and accountability framework.
  • There should be flexibility in determining the extent of the federal government's role in First Nations' financial affairs. For example, the federal government could help support First Nations governments in being accountable to their membership, if needed, but should not have control over all financial decisions.
  • First Nations should be provided flexibility in how they communicate financial information to their members.
  • There is a need for the general public to be educated on First Nations issues to understand the historical relationship between the Government of Canada and First Nations, as well as the context behind finances in First Nations communities.
  • Federal funding formulas and agreements should be more flexible in order account for individual differences in First Nations communities.
  • First Nations have appeal mechanisms in place for members to hold their First Nations government to account. These include Elder committees, community meetings, and the use of Chief and Council.
  • There is concern around the practice of assigning third-party managers to First Nations communities. INAC should be more accountable for ensuring that measures are put into place to support First Nations in transitioning out of third-party management.
  • There is concern that the creation of new organizations would result in a reduction in direct funding to First Nations communities, and an increased reporting burden. Additionally, any new organizations should be funded by the federal government.
  • Existing organizations, such as the Assembly of First Nations, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and tribal councils should all have a role in supporting First Nations' transparency and accountability. For example, they could assist in creating templates for reports, and offering guidance in the completion of financial reports.
  • There is no role for federal legislation in a new framework for mutual transparency and accountability.
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