Toolkit: Make Your Submission to Canada's Review of its Specific Claims Policy

For All BC First Nations Seeking Fair, Just and Timely Resolutions of Specific Claims.
Submissions deadline is October 31, 2012
The Government of Canada is currently preparing a Memorandum to Cabinet assessing its progress in settling specific claims as part of the legislated five year review of its Specific Claims Action Plan: Justice At Last in the fall of 2012.

The purpose of this toolkit is to assist you in the preparation of a submission to Canada’s five year review.

Background

Justice at Last was intended to improve previous processes for specific claims resolution through faster processing of claims, commitments to transparency, and improved access to meaningful negotiation and mediation. This included the creation of the Specific Claims Tribunal, mandated to make binding decisions on rejected claims or claims that Canada does not resolve within a three-year time frame.

Unfortunately, Canada has systematically departed from the meaningful resolution of specific claims through negotiation and mediation and moved to a narrow and legalistic approach. It has set up burdensome and unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles and has not provided appropriate funding so that First Nations can surmount these obstacles. It has effectively shifted an overwhelming backlog of unresolved claims onto the new Specific Claims Tribunal and likewise has not provided the Tribunal or First Nations with appropriate resources to fulfill the enormous task they now face. In BC, this situation is particularly acute since First Nations in British Columbia have over half of all specific claims in Canada.

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC) have prepared a joint submission to Canada as part of this review, as has the national office of the Assembly of First Nations. We are forwarding this submission to Canada with a sense of overwhelming responsibility to ensure that the very considerable body of specific claims we have undertaken for our client communities over a long period are in fact finally and justly resolved.

We strongly encourage you to forward your own submissions to Canada before October 31, 2012 in order to protect the spirit of respect, reconciliation, negotiation and resolution that informs Justice at Last, but is being radically undermined through its implementation.

To assist you in preparing your own submissions, we have created a toolkit that contains step by step instructions for preparing and presenting a submission, including: 

  1. Templates and summaries
  2. Sample submissions
  3. Optional materials for your review

Step by Step Instructions

Open template letter. We provide two templates from which you can choose:

a. Full submission (Word)
b. Short endorsement letter supporting UBCIC/NNTC and AFN’s submissions (Word).

2. Copy the template to your letterhead and make changes as you see fit that reflect the details and concerns of your community. Consider reviewing UBCIC/NNTC's and the AFN's submissions for more information:

a. Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs/Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council Joint Submission to Canada for the Five Year Review of the Specific Claims Action Plan: Justice at Last June 26, 2012 (pdf)
b. Justice Delayed - Assembly of First Nations Submission to Canada for the Five Year Review of the Specific Claims Action Plan: “Justice at Last” March 31: (pdf)

3. Send submission to the addresses / fax numbers provided here (Word)

4. Consider making your submission “OPEN” by requesting that it be posted on the UBCIC and/or AFN website(s), and distributed to all First Nations via existing email and fax networks.

a. UBCIC distribution requests can be sent to: Don Bain (donb@ubcic.bc.ca)  
b. AFN posting requests can be sent to: Tonio Sadik (TSadik@afn.ca

Additional Materials for Review and Consideration

These documents provide additional background information. They also demonstrate First Nations’ ongoing concern about and advocacy for the fair, just and timely resolution of specific claims:

1. Alternative Report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on how Canada fails First Nations in the Fair, Just and Timely Resolution of Specific Indigenous Land Claims Submission by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, January 31, 2012 (pdf)

2. Canada’s Undermining of the Specific Claims Process – Open summary and analysis of recent developments affecting First Nations’ specific claims by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council and the Alliance of Tribal Nations (pdf)

3. P'egp’Íg'lha Joint Council (T'it'q'et First Nation) letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, May 24, 2012 (pdf)

4. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Specific Claims: Justice At Last - Specific Claims Action Plan 2007 (link)

5. Specific Claims Tribunal Act (link)

6. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC/ AANDC) Formative Evaluation of the Specific Claims Action Plan Project No. 10005 April 2011 Evaluation, Performance Measurement, and Review Branch Audit and Evaluation Sector (pdf)

7. AFN “Think Tank” PowerPoint presentation (pdf)

8. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Reporting Centre on Specific Claims (link) review this online inventory/database to see how the Specific Claims Branch reports on the status of your community’s specific claims report

9. UBCIC Resolutions related to Specific Claims Reform (pdf)

10. AFN Resolutions related to Specific Claims Policy Reform (pdf)

If you have any questions, comments or other materials you think we should include, please contact UBCIC Research Director Jody Woods (jwoods@ubcic.bc.ca) or AFN Strategic Policy, Planning and Law Senior Director Tonio Sadik (TSadik@afn.ca). 

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.