Equality, Indigenous equality

Letter from chiefs applauds efforts being made with federal budget

“Federal Budget bodes well for change in relationship status between government and Indigenous peoples.”

There has been some criticism that the recent federal budget does not build a foundation for a strong sustainable Canadian economy. In this regard, the fiscal burden of continued indigenous poverty is a threat to Canada’s future productivity and social programs.

This is why we were pleased with the recent federal budget because from our standpoint it begins to address the root causes of indigenous economic disparities – a poor investment climate. In particular, the budget focuses on Indigenous institutions currently building the strong foundations for First Nations well-being. Those foundations include good fiscal stewardship, autonomy, and economic independence. It’s unfortunate and somewhat understandable that “Indigenous fiscal management” and “capacity building” are overmatched by shinier objects in the juggernaut of budget news coverage.

The federal budget got it right on Indigenous fiscal management.

Building fiscal capacity and capability is about knowledge, skills, the self-efficacy required to make money management decisions and have access to financial services like capital markets.

In the budget chapter dealing with the new fiscal relationship with Indigenous people, close to $130 million over two years is set aside to build this internal and administrative capacity. There is another 50 million over five years to increase the services to First Nations provided by the First Nation Financial Management Board, the First Nation Financial Authority, and the First Nation Tax Commission.

These Fiscal Management Act (FMA) institutions are making tremendous and real progress in helping participating First Nations build new infrastructure, increase revenues, improve governance, and implement innovative approaches to default management. In short, they are helping interested First Nations build a better investment climate.

On collaboration with self-governing Indigenous governments, the budget allocates $190 million to close socio-economic gaps by supporting key priorities such as infrastructure and data collection.

The budget also provides another $100 million over five years for First Nations to create their own governance structures outside of the Indian Act which has long been criticized as restrictive and paternalistic. 230 First Nations get it. The Federal Minister of Indigenous Services gets it. It’s time for Canadians to take a closer look at the transformational work which has begun.

A change in the relationship status between Ottawa and First Nations is imminent. In any good relationship, we strive to better ourselves and to do right by each other. That ideal was voiced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau during his recent budget speech when he described the relationship goal with First Nations in Canada. We know it’s not perfect and where there are gaps in jurisdiction we will work with Canada to fill them.

“Our responsibility to do better, to do more” was the way Morneau worded it.

For too long this relationship has endured a debilitating power imbalance. It has been called dysfunctional and has seen its share of hardship.

While it’s too early to shed the relationship status as “it’s complicated,” progress is being realized with communications and understanding. The budget offers a promise, a promise of an equal stake at the table, economic freedom, and empowerment. We believe when it comes to this fiscal union, the government appears comfortable with a long engagement.

The FMA Institutions and participating First Nations are working at long term solutions, reconciling, building trust and bridges (literally and figuratively), and supporting economic self- sufficiency, minus the paternalistic escort.

The budget offers yet another proposal for a true nation to nation relationship. It proposes a pathway for First Nations autonomy, investments, taxation and economic growth. It provides a blueprint to transform a possible fiscal burden to an engine of growth.

Harold Calla, Squamish Nation, Executive Chair, First Nations Financial Management Board

C.T. (Manny) Jules, Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, Chief Commissioner, First Nations Tax Commission

Ernie Daniels, Salt River, NWT, Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Finance Authority

Just Posted

Victoria airport workers rally on Tuesday

Food service workers call for improved working conditions

Police respond after dog left in vehicle at the movies

West Shore RCMP determined the animal was not in distress

BC Nurses Union calls for decriminalization of opioids

BCNU president wants the federal government to do more to reduce preventable deaths

Saanich grants public hearing to senior housing proposal

Five-storey rental apartment would add 39 units near Cuthbert Holmes Park

Province delivers notice of unauthorized occupation to Saanich tent city Camp Namegans

A Ministry of Transportation liaison to Camp Namegans delivered a “notice of… Continue reading

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Former Vike returns to lead women’s rowing program

Williams rowed for UVic, Oxford and Canada

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City orders largest Kinder Morgan protest camp to leave

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

14-year-old pilot attempts to break Guinness World Record at B.C. airport

Mohd Shaikhsorab wants to become youngest pilot with fewest hours logged to fly solo

Most Read