Joint Gathering 2018 - Summary Report

Catalogue: R1-68E-PDF
ISSN : 2369-338X
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2018

PDF Version (7,249 Kb, 22 Pages)

Table of contents

January 16-18
Vancouver, British Columbia

Executive Summary

Joint Gathering 2018, held January 16 to 18, 2018, in Vancouver, British Columbia, was the sixth annual gathering of British Columbia First Nation Chiefs, Councillors, and administrators with senior officials from the Departments of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNA). The event was held on the shared traditional territories of the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and was co-hosted by the First Nations Leadership Council, comprised of the First Nations Summit, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, and ISC.

Each year, the First Nations Leadership Council and ISC work to reflect participants' feedback and introduce new approaches and features to make the most of the time together. For the first time, a Minister and National Chief joined the Joint Gathering, providing a great strategic overview of the joint agenda. The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. In August 2017, the Prime Minister announced the creation of ISC as one of two new departments established to bolster this renewed relationship and address the unacceptable socio-economic gaps that exist between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.

ISC is building on the work already done in Budget 2016 and 2017 and is responsible for improving the delivery and quality of day-to-day services for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, while also supporting the path to self-determination of Indigenous peoples who rightfully want and need to control service delivery for their own people.

Joint Gathering participants

This year, 421 First Nations delegates, representing 155 of British Columbia's 198 First Nations, attended Joint Gathering 2018 along with 32 federal and 13 provincial officials from 17 departments and five ministries. The agenda was designed based on feedback collected from a pre-gathering questionnaire distributed to BC First Nations in the fall of 2017, and included ten plenary and eight interactive breakout sessions. An evening reception on day two featured the Git Hayestk Dancers, mask-dancing artists from Northwest Coast First Nations.

Panelists, guest speakers and presenters spoke openly and passionately on behalf of their communities and organizations. Through the interactive sessions over the three days, there was opportunity to share successes, lessons learned and best practices while encouraging Elder and youth representatives to provide their perspective on the issues raised.

In the ongoing spirit of reconciliation and relationship-building between BC First Nations and the Government of Canada, additional events were held at the BC Region office during the week of Joint Gathering 2018. These included a building transformation launch as well as an Open House held before and after Joint Gathering.

Throughout Joint Gathering 2018, delegates provided constructive feedback and raised important items for consideration that are explained in further detail in the following pages of this report. This report has been prepared with the First Nations Leadership Council and will be shared with First Nations in BC, within ISC and with other federal and provincial government participants.

Joint Gathering participants

Additional Components of Joint Gathering

Building Transformation

On January 16, 2018, a building transformation event marked the launch of changes to the physical environment of the BC Region offices of ISC and CIRNA at 1138 Melville Street in Vancouver, which were made to make visitors and clients feel more welcome and to ensure a better reflection of BC First Nations culture throughout the building. One hundred and sixty invited guests were met by the Committee for the Advancement of Native Employment (CANE) drum group, which plays an important role in the integration of Indigenous culture in the BC Region workplace. Minister Philpott delivered opening remarks on how the building transformation marked an important step in a broader agenda to make our national journey of reconciliation a reality.

The Minister also unveiled a plaque for the building lobby that recognizes the traditional territories on which the building is located – a long overdue step. Lastly, a new name was announced for BC Region's largest boardroom: " Namwayut," which means " we are all one," the rallying cry of Reconciliation Canada.

During the week, the Department showcased an art project titled " site unseen – a Mural of Merging Voices." This art installation follows the journey of reconciliation by youth from two distinct Canadian communities: the Gitga'at First Nation of Hartley Bay and West Vancouver. Students from both schools spoke eloquently about the friendships they formed with each other through participation in the project.

The success of the event was attributable in large part to the participation of Chiefs, First Nations leaders and dignitaries. Representatives from the First Nations Health Authority, the First Nations Schools Association, the First Nations Education Steering Committee and others were pleased to be part of a fresh start and new partnership with ISC moving forward.

Building Transformation

Open House

For the second year, the BC Region offices of ISC and CIRNA hosted an Open House before and after Joint Gathering 2018. Eighty-five guests from 40 First Nations engaged and exchanged information with departmental staff during the Open House, meeting throughout the building on topics such as infrastructure, housing, economic development and Crown-Indigenous relations.

Open House

Elder and Youth Engagement

Sixteen Elder and 24 youth delegates from communities across the Province expressed gratitude for the opportunity to attend Joint Gathering 2018 and learn from one another through the sharing of both personal and community experiences. Storytelling, drumming and hearing from so many in their own language left a lasting impression, and a desire for more opportunities to engage in the future.

Social Media

ISC promoted this year's Joint Gathering through a variety of social media platforms. Participants were encouraged to post information and their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while using the #JointGathering2018 hashtag. The Department's social media accounts also promoted the different plenary sessions, speakers and events that occurred over the three-day conference. All Twitter and Instagram posts using the #JointGathering2018 hashtag were highlighted in real time on a Twitter wall displayed on screens throughout the venue to further promote sharing. A Facebook album was created and updated in real time to showcase various speakers and panels, and to profile delegates sharing ideas and engaging in discussions at Joint Gathering.

Cultural Performances

CANE Drum Group

Joint Gathering 2018 showcased the talented drummers from BC Region's CANE drum group, which provided a strong cultural presence throughout the event and brought people together through their drumming and songs.

Git Hayestk Dancers

Git Hayetsk is a Northwest Coast First Nations mask-dancing group located in Vancouver, BC. Git Hayetsk means the people of the copper shield in Sm'algyax which is spoken by the Nisga'a, Tsimshian, and Gitxsan Nations. The dancers share a common bond to their ancestry of the Sm'algyak speaking peoples with strong family ties to the Nations of Haida, Tlingit, Haisla, and Musqueam.

Exhibitor Fair

Representatives from the following organizations had exhibitor tables at Joint Gathering 2018 where networking opportunities and information on various programs and services were provided:

Exhibitor Fair

"Ask Me" Booth

Once again, ISC staff operated the "Ask Me" Booth and engaged in over 70 interactions with delegates, answering questions and facilitating meetings between First Nations members and staff on a variety of topics ranging from housing, capital, education and economic development. Meetings were scheduled both during Joint Gathering 2018 and after the event. A variety of materials relating to First Nations programs were also made available at the booth, including the Program Guide and a Client Services Questionnaire. If you are interested in filling out a copy of this questionnaire to give feedback on improving client services at the BC Region office, please email:

Session Summaries

Plenary Sessions

Joint Gathering participants

Minister Philpott Speech

  • The Minister spoke about the transformation of the Department, and the transformation of Canada's relationship with First Nations. She acknowledged the strong leadership in BC in key areas such as health care, child and family services, education, fiscal relationship and self-government.
  • The Minister also spoke about the Region's building transformation initiative as part of a larger commitment to transforming client service,
    one step at a time.

Fiscal Relationship

Panel discussion with co-chairs of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs Committee on work to-date and plans to move towards sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for First Nations.


ISC – Funding Services Directorate

  • As co-chair of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Fiscal Relations, Chief David Jimmie provided a summary of the BC perspectives that were gathered in Fall 2017 at six regional engagement sessions. The report of those sessions provided highlights which include discussions of additional jurisdiction, expanded tax powers, and the need for a legislative foundation.
  • Chief Jimmie noted that BC's report was the most comprehensive of all of the provinces and contributed to the joint departmental-AFN report that was tabled at the December 2017 Special Chief's Assembly in Ottawa.
  • Recommendations in this report included: establishing a permanent Advisory Board that will allow the work to continue; reforming the Default Prevention and Management Policy; moving to 10-year grants, with a commitment to move 100 communities to this new funding arrangement by April 2019; and, repealing the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
  • The following departmental link provides further information on A new approach: Co-development of a new fiscal relationship between Canada and First Nations.
  • AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde linked the fiscal work to land and resources, and the assertion of rights and title. He stressed that the report was a first step and that implementing the recommendations would be key to changing the fiscal relationship.
  • Paul Thoppil, Chief Financial, Results and Delivery Officer, joined the National Chief and Chief Jimmie for questions and answers following their remarks, where he was able to discuss how implementation of the recommendations would unfold in the coming months and highlighted areas that were still under development such as the eligibility criteria for the first 100 communities to qualify for 10-year grants. He confirmed that the long-term vision outlined in the report is for sustainable, sufficient and predictable funding.
  • Comments from the floor expressed support for First Nations defining accountability at the community level, the need to define eligibility criteria for 10-year grants, and the need for First Nations autonomy beyond the promises made in the report.
  • Follow-Up: ISC will host information sessions for First Nations on 10-year grants early in the fiscal year, as soon as more details are available.

Child and Family Services Report Out of the Tripartite First Nations Children and Families Working Group

Panel discussion with members of the First Nations Child and Family Services Tripartite Working Group on completed work to-date.


ISC – Programs and Partnerships Directorate

  • Members of the Tripartite Working Group highlighted the importance of the federal and provincial governments working in collaboration with First Nations to find effective and sustainable solutions that take into consideration the reality of each community. They also reported on the progress made by the Working Group towards informing child
    welfare reform.
  • Carolyn Kamper, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Priorities of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, reported on the progress made by the Province towards the recommendations from Grand Chief Edward John's report "Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification – From Root Causes to Root Solutions." Of the 71 recommendations to the Ministry of Child and Family Development, three have been completed and 61 are underway.
  • Mary Teegee, the regional representative for British Columbia on the National Advisory Committee, provided a progress report on Action Tables that have been developed by the Committee as a result of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Decision dated January 26, 2016.
  • Follow-Up: The First Nation Leadership Tripartite working group is in the process of completing a research project which has been identified as one of the short-term objectives in the current work plan. It is understood that the First Nations Leadership Council may propose amendments to the work plan to reflect an engagement strategy for 2018-2019 and possibly align with the four action tables under the National Advisory Committee.
  • Follow-Up: ISC BC Region has been working with the Ministry of Child and Family Development's Strategic Priorities Branch to discuss joint implementation of the Federal/Provincial shared recommendations identified in Grand Chief Edward John's recommendations.
  • Follow-Up: The Minister confirmed on March 1, 2018, that the mandate of the National Advisory Committee table would be extended into
  • Follow-Up: Budget 2018 investments were announced to ensure full compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling and will soon be rolled out in British Columbia.

Developing a Rights Recognition Framework

Panel discussion with CIRNA and BC about what a rights recognition approach to Crown-Indigenous relations would entail.


CIRNA – Treaties and Aboriginal Government – Negotiations West

  • The Comprehensive Claims policy and Inherent Right to Self-Government policy were not co-developed with Indigenous people. Canada is seeking to replace them with a new policy that reflects the unique needs of Indigenous peoples.
  • Extinguishment and surrender of rights have no place in modern-day Crown-Indigenous relations or agreements. Agreements will evolve as the relationship evolves.
  • A key theme arising from Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination tables was the question of nation (re)building. Can a system be established where a First Nation seeks legal recognition of itself as a nation, other than as an Indian Act band or through full self-government? How can Canada support nation (re)building and nation recognition?
  • Action Item: Canada, BC and the First Nations Leadership Council hosted a gathering on April 11-13, 2018, in Vancouver to discuss a recognition and implementation of rights approach. The perspectives shared by First Nations will assist Canada in its efforts to develop and implement a Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework, as announced by the Prime Minister on February 14, 2018.

Service Excellence

Panel discussion on ISC's service transformation process.


ISC – Community Development Directorate

  • Participants provided input on how ISC could improve its service delivery to First Nations in areas including accessibility, response, reporting and cultural awareness.
  • Action Item: ISC, in collaboration with interested First Nations, will develop a plan to identify specific service improvements to respond to participant feedback.

Indigenous Languages

Panel discussion to share ideas for creating successful language immersion programs and for showcasing innovative methods of transmitting Indigenous language from Elders to youth.


ISC – Programs and Partnerships Directorate

  • The session showcased and shared best practices from language revitalization projects taking place across the region including the involvement of Elders and youth, technology, and partnerships.
  • Kukpi7 Ron Ignace of Skeetchestn First Nation highlighted the need for legislation to protect and enshrine Indigenous peoples' right to language, regardless of size of community or number of fluent speakers. Further, he gave an update on the collaboration between the AFN, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis Nation of Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage on the co-development of Indigenous language legislation.
  • Tessa Erickson articulated her desire to create a Dakelh language app and a language revitalization program for summer camp, as well as to increase dialogue and collaboration between community leadership and youth on projects of importance to youth. Tim Masso spoke about the inspiration behind his desire to teach the Nuu-chah-nulth language and the creation of "language blocks" to assist in the learning of the Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet.
  • Chief William Yovanovich, Elder Jiixa Gladys Vandal and Nation-to-Nation mentor Dana Moraes presented on the innovative work being conducted at the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program which includes the creation of over 50 children's books and a Xaayda kil dialect glossary. Panelists articulated the significance of having community leadership prioritize language and culture as a key factor to their success.

First Nations and Emergency Management – Charting the Way Forward Together

Panel discussion focused on the way forward to develop a tripartite approach to emergency management in BC that includes First Nations as full partners.


ISC – Programs and Partnerships Directorate

  • All parties acknowledged the importance of a tripartite approach to emergency management, integration of First Nations as full partners in the emergency management system, and embedding what worked while letting go of what didn't work, with respect to emergency response going forward.
  • It was made clear during dialogue with First Nations leaders that there was no discussion with First Nations when Canada and BC entered into bilateral arrangements in the 1990s. Two panelists pointed out that First Nations must be involved in both the governance and operational aspects of emergency management.
  • Climate change, global warming and the impact of the pine beetle epidemic were highlighted as contributing to increased hazards and risks for First Nations.
  • Panelists and participants highlighted the importance of recognizing First Nations' jurisdiction. The need for emergency preparedness, planning capacity and mitigation (including traditional fuel management practices), both at the community and nation level, were also discussed.
  • Follow-Up: ISC, Emergency Management BC, the BC Wildfire Service, the First Nations Leadership Council and the First Nations Emergency Services Society have initiated discussions towards a tripartite agreement on emergency management for British Columbia.

BC Region Overview Report

Overview by the Regional Director General on BC Region 2017-2018 investments, including Budget 2017.

  • Delegates were provided with a Dashboard analysis on BC Region investments. ISC BC Region funding is up 6.8% from 2016-2017 and up 26% from 2015-2016. Of the $964 million invested this fiscal, over 60% was infrastructure and education investments, 20% was committed to social programs, with 3% spent on overhead.
  • ISC highlighted that as the new fiscal relationship is implemented and funding is transferred in 10-year grants, this will change regional funding flexibilities and reduce reporting burdens.
  • Comments from the floor focused on inadequate funding for both housing and band office infrastructure.
  • Follow-Up: Budget 2017 and 2018 funding for infrastructure for 2018-2019 will soon be communicated.

Linking Skills to Economic Opportunities

Panel discussion on the importance of developing strategies to link First Nations community skill levels and industry opportunities to create sustainable economic-development and employment success stories.


ISC – Lands and Economic Development Directorate

  • There is a need to meet the future demand for skills in the labour market, especially in the technology field (engineering).
  • Longer term support and funding is important; there is a need to invest in young people and empower the younger generation.
  • Elders must be engaged as mentors to build capacity.
  • Follow-Up: The Aboriginal Skills and Employment holders will continue to build partnerships with industry and educational institutions to help fill in the Canadian skills gap, with a specific focus on youth.
Joint Gathering participants
Joint Gathering participants
Joint Gathering participants

Breakout Sessions


Gud Ga KilGuhGa: Empowering Communication Governance

Discussion on new tools and ways to establish networks and promote community to community learning.


ISC – Community Development Directorate

  • Presenters and participants discussed tools and approaches to strengthen First Nations communication with members. The session also provided an opportunity to discuss challenges and strategies for addressing social media issues.
  • Action Item: ISC, in collaboration with First Nations partners, will update the Communications Toolkit on leading practices for communication in communities.

Self-Government Fiscal Policy Development

Presentation exploring the collaborative process of building a new federal self-government fiscal policy.


CIRNA – Treaties and Aboriginal Government – Negotiations West

  • Federal and Indigenous government representatives from the Collaborative Fiscal Policy Development Process introduced a more inclusive and transparent approach to self-government fiscal policy development.
  • Through this process, the participants are expanding the fiscal policy scope to incorporate new concepts, including but not limited to: adequacy of funding, service population, closing social well-being gaps, language, culture and heritage, etc.
  • This new approach has contributed to a shared understanding of issues and the development of new policy options.
  • A draft policy framework and presentation was shared at the session with participants.

First Nations Public Service – Building Capacity

Discussion of how to promote the First Nations Public Service, share initiatives underway by the federal government to increase First Nations representation in government and to seek feedback from participants on the initiatives.


ISC – Programs and Partnerships Directorate

  • Christa Williams provided an overview of the First Nations Public Service initiative being led by the First Nations Summit to grow the capacity of First Nations in areas such as band administration, records management, financial and HR management. The goal is to provide opportunities for individuals to grow their skills and obtain certification.
  • Caroline Caza, Regional Director General of Environment and Climate Change Canada, provided an overview of the initiatives underway by the federal government through the Indigenous Interests and Issues Committee of the BC Federal Council to increase Indigenous representation in government and seek feedback from participants.
  • Initiatives include targeted recruitment, mentorship, interchanges and engagement to bring more indigenous perspectives to the public service. Several areas of collaboration were identified, including internships for youth, access to management, training and experience, job shadowing and mentorship and access to public service education and training through the Canada School of Public Service.
  • There was significant interest in the initiative from attendees and all were in agreement that the First Nations Public Service initiative was one that should continue to be pursued with input and participation from all levels of government and First Nations communities and leadership.
  • Follow-Up: The first Nations Public Service Initiative held a session March 13-14, 2018, in Richmond, to continue the discussion on how best to build public service administrative capacity.

Update on Tripartite Education Framework Agreement (TEFA) Renewal

Update on the progress made in renewing TEFA and information on the significant education reforms currently underway in BC and nationally.


ISC– Programs and Partnerships Directorate

  • The input provided at Joint Gathering 2017 helped form the business case ISC developed with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) for additional investment in TEFA Renewal.
  • FNESC expressed their concerns about the national Memorandum to Cabinet process on Transforming First Nations Education, and reiterated the importance of adopting regional models driven by and for First Nations.
  • Participants raised issues within the provincial system that result in poor academic outcomes of on-reserve students attending public schools. The three parties in TEFA renewal negotiations will continue to collaborate on developing policies and strategies to address these issues.
  • FNESC called on Canada to update the TEFA funding formula to reflect the new Classroom Enhancement Fund that was added to the provincial funding formula as a result of the Supreme Court ruling about class size.
  • Action Item: ISC is working with FNESC and BC to develop a funding protocol to review any new funding investment into the provincial system and to ensure any future changes to the TEFA funding formula are completed in a timely manner.

Leveraging Financial Opportunities

Panel and small-table discussions with representatives from BC Aboriginal financial institutions and VanCity on financing solutions for First Nation businesses and communities.


ISC – Lands and Economic Development Directorate

  • There are limited resources/funding to meet the demands for financing for all business opportunities.
  • Capacity support for business owners to better manage their operations is important and a critical element for success. There is a need to encourage Indigenous youth to become future entrepreneurs.
  • ISC Economic Development Unit met with four Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs) on February 22, 2018, to discuss opportunities to help capitalize AFI programs to further extend their impact on entrepreneurs.
  • Follow-Up: ISC will identify resources to support AFIs and to increase the capacity of Indigenous entrepreneurs.

BC AFN Economic Development Strategy: The Black Books Project

Discussion on the four-volume economic development toolkit which provides resources to different key audiences.


BC AFN – Jaime Sanchez (

  • The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BC AFN) underscored the need to identify and address barriers to economic development in the spirit of economic reconciliation.
  • Engagement and partnership across all levels of government is required to advance Indigenous community enterprises, leverage opportunities for procurement and create new jobs.
  • Connecting Indigenous communities with the broader Canadian economy will strengthen First Nations capacity to participate in Canada's prosperity and lead to improved socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples.
  • Follow-Up: The release date for the Black Books Project is June 2018.

Community to Community Learning

Session on how ISC can support learning in different sectors, such as housing, social development and economic development.


ISC – Community Development Directorate

  • Participants provided input on identifying and strengthening Community to Community learning opportunities, including fostering community knowledge transfer and sharing best practices and approaches in areas including housing, governance and economic development.
  • Action Item: ISC will support Community to Community learning by bringing community experts together in areas including housing, governance, social programs and economic development to discuss how ISC can best support learning and knowledge transfer.

BC AFN Housing and Infrastructure Committee

Presentation by the BC AFN on housing reform for First Nations in Canada.


BC AFN – Chief Dan George (

  • Chief Dan George of Burns Lake First Nation, Chief Mark Point of Skowkale First Nation and Garry Merkel, Executive Director of the BC First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council, introduced the BC AFN Housing and Infrastructure Council, and provided a brief overview of their objective to assume authority and control of First Nations housing and infrastructure program delivery and associated services in BC.
  • They proposed a timeline for the transition and delivery of programs from ISC to the Council. Chief George stated that they were in the early stages of development and are exploring various models.
  • Action Item: Further outreach by the Council has been planned for this Spring, with more information on dates and locations available on the Engagement tab of their website.
Joint Gathering participants
Joint Gathering participants

Delegate Evaluation Highlights

Participants at Joint Gathering 2018 included 421 First Nations delegates, numerous members representing the First Nations Leadership Council, representatives from various Indigenous organizations, and staff from 17 other federal Departments and five provincial Ministries. In addition, 104 employees from ISC and CIRNA were onsite to listen, present and support the event.

Delegate feedback was solicited at Joint Gathering through written evaluation forms. Feedback included the following quotes:

Joint Gathering participants

All was very informative! Amazing way to meet and connect with so many people from different Nations and services. My favourite presentation was the plenary on Indigenous languages. It gave a great sense of hope.

I loved that we have Elder and youth delegates. I think it's very important for Chiefs to hear them.

I felt that I learned a lot from what everyone said but I really enjoyed listening to the Elders speak, especially from different cultures. It really caught my attention.

Learned so much about available resources and a lot about other communities.

Enjoyed networking with agencies: their openness to share information and willingness to help.

I liked how government and Chiefs are in the same room.

In planning for the next Joint Gathering, some thoughts included:

Have more opportunities for the youth to discuss things from their perspectives to the group as a whole.

Would love to see more on support for the topic of languages.

Allocate more time for questions.

Hear more success stories from Nations.

It was awesome to include Elders and youth; let's consider taking this a step further via having a panel of each.

More networking with other Nations is a good tool.

Next Steps

The First Nations Leadership Council and the Government of Canada are committed to the continued success of Joint Gathering. First Nations have consistently affirmed the importance of communities sharing their successes and challenges as well as the desire to hear from all sectors of the community including Elders and youth. In planning future agendas, the First Nations Leadership Council and ISC will continue to incorporate suggestions and recommendations to respond to the needs of First Nations communities.

Joint Gathering participants
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