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Confederacy of Nations La Confdration des Nations


May 27, 2014
It has not been even one month since many of you heard about something called the Confederacy
of Nations for the very first time. Others who have been around for a bit remembered it, but had
not thought about it for many years.
We must begin, therefore, by explaining why for the first time in ten years, this Assembly of First
Nations is hearing a report from the Confederacy of Nations.
Forty-five years ago, 1969, the Government of Canada tabled a White Paper which said it was
going to do away with Indian s.
There would be no more Indian reserves. There would be no more Indian rights. There would be
no more treaties. And there would be no more Indians in Canada. The word Indian would be
erased out of Canadian law. It was like legal genocide.
Our grandfathers reacted immediately and decisively. With the strong leadership of George
Manuel from British Columbia, they organized provincial and territorial organizations, they
united those organizations into a National Indian Brotherhood, they gained the support of
churches, labour unions, university students. They held rallies, protests, marches.
And three years later, the government admitted defeat and said it would bury the White Paper.
In 1978, the Government of Canada announced it was patriating the Constitution. It was cutting
itself free from Britain. Again the Chiefs our grandfathers mobilized who would be
responsible for the treaty promises and guarantees? What would happen to our title to our lands
and resources the lands we had agreed to share for immigration and settlement?
The Formation of the Assembly of First Nations
In this mobilization, in 1978, the Chiefs from across Canada were called by the then-president of
the National Indian Brotherhood, Noel Starblanket, to come to Montreal for an All-Chiefs
Assembly on Self-Government.
And it was there that the Chiefs were going to form an organization which would be led by the
First Nations not by the PTOs, not by a group of individual leaders, but an organization that
would be the one and only voice of the Indian People of Canada. And they called it the
Assembly of First Nations.
It took four years, until 1982, for the first meeting of the organization to take place. During that
time, the Chiefs worked on a Charter a constitution the law for their new organization.
The Charter they wrote provided that the power at the top would be exercised by the First
Nations in Assembly an Assembly just like this one. Any Chief in Canada could come here and
be heard.
But there had to be something which would make sure the Chiefs decisions were implemented
after everyone went home. There was also a need to be sure that all regions of Canada would be
heard so they created a Confederacy of Nations.
The Confederacy is chaired by the National Chief. The regional chiefs sit on the Confederacy. Each
region has a delegation consisting of one delegate plus additional delegates for each 10,000 First
Nation members in the region.
The Confederacy was given strong powers of oversight. The right to give directions. To Instruct.
Control of the Budget. Control over the National Chief and the Executive Council it was given
this control so the Chiefs could be sure the Chiefs decisions were implemented.
Under the Confederacy, there was an Executive Council and a National Chief to do the work.
All of this is in our Charter.
Fast-Forward to the Current Situation
But lets fast-forward now to the current situation we face as First Nations. We are in a raging
national crisis. A health crisis. A poverty crisis. An incarceration crisis. Crisis from the trauma and
effect of residential schools. Run-away development is proceeding without taking our rights and
interests into account. There is a housing crisis. The Treaties are being ignored and trampled on by
governments. Our resources are being exploited without our consent and with others enjoying the
And the organizations we have created to defend us against these violations and to advance our
interests are being strangled.
And most of all, what is happening to our children. The inferior education which they are
receiving in inferior under-funded schools.
We have been complaining for years across Canada about the unacceptable substandard
discriminatory funding which our schools receive for the education of our children.
So when the Government of Canada announced it was going to do something about it, we were
happy but experience has taught us to be suspicious, so we asked for details.
We demanded to be involved in what was going on.
Then last summer, there came a Blueprint from the Minister, with an announcement that the
Blueprint had been negotiated with the Assembly of First Nations, that the First Nations had been
consulted, and the Blueprint was exactly what we had asked for.
First Nations across Canada replied by saying they had not been consulted, that the Blueprint was
not acceptable.
Then last October, the Minister released something that looked like a Bill, and again he said this
was exactly what the Assembly of First Nations wanted and again, there were more outcries and
The Quebec/Labrador region announced it was going to take legal action against the Bill.
So in December, there was a Special Assembly of First Nations held in Gatineau, and a resolution
was passed about the Governments legislation. The Chiefs had made a decision, passed almost
It set five conditions which the Governments legislation had to meet. (We will come back to those
conditions in a few minutes.)
So we all said our Holiday Greetings and went home from Gatineau.
The Kanai Command Performance
Then out of the blue in February, there came an announcement on a Wednesday that everyone
had to get to Kanai in Treaty 7 for Friday, two days later, because the Prime Minister was going to
make an important announcement about education.
So, many people went to Kanai to hear the big announcement. We were told that all the
conditions set in Gatineau had been met, that an agreement had been reached with the Assembly
of First Nations, and that some money had been put on the table for 2016.
After Kanai, there was great confusion, and as the dust was settled, great concern, frustration and
anger because we simply did not know what was going on.
It was not until April 10 that the Bill was tabled in the House of Commons and we saw it for the
first time. It was very different than the draft Bill which had been presented in October.
Rather than to give First Nations control of Education, it seemed to give the Minister control
new powers he did not have, and it reduced First Nations to be administrators of schools, not in
control of their schools.
Again the Minister and other government members said the Bill had the full support of the
Assembly of First Nations. Right after the Bill was tabled, Parliament adjourned for two weeks of
holiday time.
Over those holidays, the Bill was given careful analysis by many regions, and one after another,
First Nation after First Nation, there was rejection of the Bill. Emotions began to rise. And there
was deep concern.
It would also be accurate to say there was even more anger about what was being presented to
Canadians in our name.
Concern Is Transformed into Action
On April 28, Ontario, Manitoba, Treaty 6 Alberta, Kahnawake, Chiefs from Saskatchewan and
others joined to hold a media conference in Ottawa to express their deep concern about Bill C-33.
Parliament had reconvened, and the Government was again saying repeatedly that the AFN had
approved of the Bill.
As a vigorous debate started in the House of Commons, the Government imposed closure which
means that there would be one more day of debate, and then debate would be shut down, the Bill
would be passed at second reading, sent to committee, and back to the House for Passage, over to
the Senate and by early June it would be law.
After consulting with those who were at the Media Conference, Ontario Regional Chief Stan
Beardy wrote the National Chief on May 1 asking him to convene a meeting of the AFNs
Confederacy of Nations.
That afternoon, the National Chief called a media conference, said he would no longer be an
obstacle nor a lightning rod regarding the legislation, and he resigned.
Regional Chief Beardy then asked the Executive Council to call a meeting of the Confederacy of
Nations. There was debate. The bottom line is that the Confederacy meeting was not called.
Consequently, a number of regional leaders decided it was an emergency regarding very
fundamental issues that required a meeting of the Assembly. They issued notices to the regions
and regional chiefs across Canada that there would be a meeting in Ottawa on May 14-15.
If a quorum of at least 5 regions and half of the 94 possible delegates were present, we would call
the Confederacy of Nations to order.
And that is what happened.
All of this is to explain why now, for the first time in ten years, the Confederacy of Nations of the
Assembly of First Nations can report to you, the Chiefs of First Nations, pursuant to the Charter.

The Report
The Confederacy of Nations would like to report to this Special Assembly how we have fulfilled
our responsibility to govern the AFN between Assemblies of the Chiefs and to implement your
In particular, we would like to tell you how we have dealt with the Bill C-33 Crisis.
Second, we would like to tell you how we intend to fulfil the duties and responsibilities assigned
to us by the Charter in the months ahead, the most important of which is implementing the
decisions you take today.
The Charter provides that when there is the resignation of a National Chief, it is this First-Nations-
in-Assembly which, whenever it decides to do so, makes other arrangements.
Whatever and whenever the Assembly decides to do that, the Confederacy of Nations will
implement that decision.
What Happened At the May 14-15 Confederacy Meeting
The Education Act: We looked at the Gatineau Assembly to see what decisions were made there
that we were to implement. There were two principle resolutions: one which set conditions which
had to be met with regard to the Education Act the Government said it was going to introduce.
We went over the conditions one by one, did a careful analysis, and decided that not one of the
conditions had been met. We have a copy of that analysis for distribution.
We will mention that there is a long list of regulations which the Minister can make unilaterally,
including the right to impose provincial law. He can impose Third Party Management on a
communitys schools. Even the promise made at Kanai about statutory funding at the same rate
spent by provinces vanishes into smoke with a clause which says that each year the Minister can
set a limit to the amount of money going to First Nation education, promises or no promises.
That meant t that Bill C-33 had been introduced into Parliament contrary to the resolution of the
Chiefs of Canada.
As a result, we wrote to the Minister of Indian Affairs to suggest that we meet to decide how to
move ahead. We also contacted the Clerks of the House and Senate Standing Committees asking
to appear before the Committees on the Bill.
We have not received a reply to any of those letters. If there is an opportunity to respond on
behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, we will, of course, advance whatever position you may
adopt over the course of today or fall back on the Gatineau motion.
Given the importance of the issue, the Confederacy also suspended the Executive Committees
activities on any matters relating to education and assumed full carriage of the matter.
We remind you that the Regional Chiefs participate in the Confederacy of Nations it is not that
they are turfed out, they participate within the Confederacy.
The second decision taken by the Assembly in Gatineau was to suspend all discussions with
what was known as the Governments Senior Oversight Committee on Treaties, and we look
forward to receiving this Assemblys decision on the resolution on Treaties which we see is on
your agenda for today.
We also have asked the Secretariat to provide a briefing to the Confederacy on each and every
one of the Confederacys responsibilities in the Charter.
We want to know details of each one, what the current situation is, what actions are pending,
and any recommendations the Secretariat wishes to make.
We want to review correspondence and minutes of meetings which have taken place
particularly since the last Chiefs Assembly.
We also need to tell you what did not happen at the Confederacy meeting. You may have seen
some media reports in which the media really engaged in some fear-mongering about economic
terrorism, and those incendiary sparks were fanned further by the Minister in the House of
Commons. The only resolution passed by the Confederacy dealt with the coordinating
committee and related matters. There was one individual chief who expressed his frustration at
the current situation in strong terms. He was followed by several other speakers who talked
about the peace and friendship responsibilities of the Treaties, the need to engage in strategic
conduct, the need to take these matters back to the elders to obtain their views and wisdom.
Reporting on the Current Situation
We had hoped to have had that information so we could report to you today. You are entitled to
have that information. However, the complex logistics and the short time available made that
impossible. We hope to present it to you within a months time.
Our report will use the Charter as the starting point. What does the Charter stipulate about how
our Assembly of First Nations is to operate? How accountability is to be obtained? Who is in
charge of what? We need to have that information so we can restore the control of the Assembly
of First Nations to the First Nations.
We need to regain the authority, credibility, effectiveness, and respect which we had when this
Assembly was under the control of First Nations. And the only way to do that is to restore
control of the Assembly to the First Nations.
The Confederacy has established a Coordinating Council to keep things moving between
meetings and to take into account new situations which arise. Each region is to appoint one
representative to the Council. Each region also appoints one Official to support the Chief who
represents the region.
Also, we have identified communications as a critical problem the news just is not getting out
fast enough to First Nations, even to regions so we are asking each region to identify one
communications officer to a Communications Task Force to deal with that issue, to assist the
regional representative to get information out to the First Nations in the region, and to ensure
that the voice of the First Nations of a region are brought by the Regions delegation to the
Assembly. .
Tomorrows Meeting of the Confederacy
Tomorrow, May 28, the Confederacy of Nations will reconvene the meeting it adjourned two
weeks ago.
The place of the meeting has not yet been decided. The meeting will begin as soon after 9:00
that we have quorum of five regions and a total of 47 of the 94 delegates.
You are all invited to attend.
The Confederacys first order of business is to decide how to implement the decisions of this
Assembly of Chiefs.
Our second order will be to discuss our responsibilities and duties under the Charter, and
decide what we want to see done on each of the matters before the next Confederacy meeting
and there will be a motion that this be held about a month after, say June 18.
That is the report of the Confederacy of Nations to this First Nations in Assembly. The
Confederacy can guarantee you it will not be ten years before you hear the next report of the
The Confederacy also guarantees you the Confederacy will implement the decisions that are
made by you the Chiefs.