Characteristics of a Nation-to-Nation Relationship Dialogue Series

The new federal government has committed to pursuing a Nation-to-Nation relationship based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation and partnership with Indigenous people in Canada, acknowledging this as both the right thing to do and a path to economic growth. This commitment invites the opportunity for thoughtful reflection and discussion of the path forward to achieve genuine Nation-to-Nation relationships. As the nation looks to mark the sesquicentennial and celebrate 150 years since Confederation, important conversations are being had about the Canadian identity, both past and future. As the Royal Commission noted, our relationship with Indigenous nations is a fundamental aspect of our past, present and future, and therefore a necessary part of our identity. At the same time, the nation-to-nation relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada has been identified as a seminal priority for Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau has revamped the Indigenous portfolio, endorsed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools’ final report, adopted the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and created a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

A new nation-to-nation relationship is a fundamental component of fostering reconciliation and restoring resilience to Indigenous Nations. Over the course of the past 30 years – from Section 35 negotiations, through the Royal Commission, to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – Indigenous leadership has articulated the many aspects of what the nation-to-nation relationship means. Establishing a new relationship with the Crown includes Indigenous self-government founded in self-determination, legal capacity and access to resources; the recognition of inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights, as well as the ability to exercise and implement inherent rights and responsibilities; treaty renewal and treaty implementation; fiscal arrangements and resource revenue sharing; and closing the social and economic gaps faced by Indigenous peoples.

Beyond reconciliation, empowerment of Aboriginal nations with the capacity for self-government was and remains a significant feature of creating a modern, renewed relationship. Recognizing and enabling Aboriginal governments would require a significant investment but is considered by many a natural extension of the rights affirmed in Section 35 of the Constitution Act. Progress on the transfer of governing authority, lands and resources has been slow and often mired in legal complexity. Both  the ITK and the MNC have publicly stressed the need for an approach that recognizes and respects the distinctions between Indigenous peoples.

Recognizing the opportunities this moment presents, the IOG is convening a dialogue around the “Nation-to-Nation Relationship.” The IOG believes that nations and leaders must have the opportunity to share their vision in an open forum and direct the agenda moving forward. By convening experts and facilitating the exchange of knowledge, this project aims to bring to the forefront systemic governance challenges that have impeded advancements in relationship building to date. We are seeking to articulate the characteristics of a nation-to-nation relationship, as defined by Indigenous leaders and government departments – as well as identify key issues, challenges and opportunities.

“Characteristics of a Nation-to-Nation Relationship,” is a five-part dialogue series to be held across Canada seeking bring together experts to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, focusing on four themes central to the relationship: Nation Building and Nation Re-Building; Jurisdiction; New Intergovernmental Fiscal Relationships; and Wealth Creation. The series will culminate in a national event that will aim to address the outcomes of the discussions that emerged, including identified themes linkages, challenges, potential results, and timelines. The dialogues and event will feature invited speakers with vested interests in nation-to-nation relationships. The purpose of these sessions will be to stimulate the discussion through providing a neutral environment where stakeholders can openly communicate the precursors for change.

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