(Coast Salish Territory – January 29, 2020) Scott Clark, President of the North West Indigenous Council Society (NWIC) has declared that a crisis now exists in urban Indigenous governance in British Columbia. As part of its outreach and engagement program, NWIC is hosting a meeting on Thursday, January 30, 2020, from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, located at 101 Gordon Street in Nanaimo.
NWIC has received funding from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to launch a series of community outreach and engagement sessions focused on governance and membership. The ultimate goal of this work is to achieve representative, responsible and effective urban Indigenous governance throughout British Columbia. This is a welcome initiative, since the field of governance and policy for Indigenous self-government remains limited, complex and demanding. The relationship between Canadian jurisdictions and urban Indigenous societies remains a colonial relationship and until this legacy is removed, progress will be slow.
Establishing self-government arrangements will not be an easy task; however, a new generation of Indigenous people are ready to work in a collaborative way to address the crisis. One thing is certain – the Daniels case has clearly answered the longstanding question of whether or not Métis and nonstatus Indians are a federal responsibility under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The Supreme Court of Canada answered “yes” to the question, and if the federal government fails to
extend its programs and services to non-status Indians and Métis, it may well be in violation of s.15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which requires that all individuals be treated equally under the law.
When various models of urban Indigenous self-government are being considered, the underlying need is flexibility. For example, a federal House of Commons Committee studying the subject reviewed three different approaches:
1) nation specific models involving Indigenous people with a
common heritage who would maintain directly or indirectly connection with a land based government;
2) urban Indigenous residents, regardless of status, treaty, nationality or other criteria, could form a governing body over certain institutions or jurisdictions;
3) reserves could be established in an urban setting where they could exercise self-governing powers either as nation specific or on a pan-Indigenous basis.
For more information contact:
Scott Clark, President
North West Indigenous Council Society