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Webinar: From theory to practice: Principles and Strategies for Implementing the Inherent Right to Self-government

December 8, 2021 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Register for the webinar here.

Postponed from November 17th, 2021 to DECEMBER 8th, 2021: “From Theory to Practice: Principles and Strategies for Implementing the Inherent Right to Self-Government”

This fifth and final webinar in our series completes the journey of exploration of the Inherent Right to Self-Government and how First Nations can begin their transition exercising their inherent rights after being subject to more than 150 years of Indian Act administration.

Once a community has arrived at the consensus for change, then what? This session will take a realistic look at the work involved in becoming self-governing – the principles, the planning, the challenges, and the successes – and how the RFNG project can help. Join our final panel of expert RFNG partners on November 17, 2021 at noon ET to learn more about the strategies and implementation of the road to self-government ahead.

Effective self-governance is critical to the survival, health and well-being of First Nations people. It is a central pillar in reconciliation and in the creation of a new nation-to-nation relationship with the Crown. It is crucial to the long-term governance of Canada.

Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) is a First Nations community-led, multi-partner, SSHRC-funded research project to find pathways out of the Indian Act and into exercising the inherent right of First Nations to self-government.

This webinar series has been targeted to First Nations leaders, administrators, and citizens who want to learn about their inherent rights; how the Indian Act obstructs their ability to develop effective self-governance and take their rightful place as citizens within their own nations and within Canada; and the power that First Nations citizens have to transform the way their nation is governed.

These webinars are also a useful resource for other levels of government and all those interested in learning more about the systemic issues behind present day challenges in Crown-First Nations relationships and are willing to explore and support alternatives for true reconciliation.


Satsan (Herb George), RFNG Project Co-Director

Satsan (Herb George) is one of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs of the Frog Clan and a long-time Speaker for the Wet’suwet’en Nation. He has over 40 years of experience working towards recognition and respect for the inherent right to self-government in the courts, classrooms, and communities. Early in his career, Satsan was a key figure and strategist in the Delgamuukw-Gisdayway decision which ruled, for the first time, that Aboriginal Title and rights exist in law and are recognized and protected under section 35. Following the decision, Satsan went on to serve two terms as elected regional chief, representing BC at the Assembly of First Nations. He has lent his expertise to build educational programming around Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the inherent right to self-government in universities across Canada. In 2005, Satsan founded and became President of the National Centre for First Nations Governance (now the Centre for First Nations Governance). Today, Satsan is leading a collaboration between the Centre (where he continues to serve as Senior Associate), the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration – the Transitional Governance Program. The Project provides strategic direction and directs applied research and analysis to support First Nations governments who are working to leave behind Indian Act administration.

Frances Abele, RFNG Project Director

Frances Abele is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Academic Director of the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Fellow of the Centre for Governance and Public Management, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Public Policy. She is adjunct professor in the doctoral program in Indigenous Studies at Trent University. Dr. Abele is a former director of the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton. During 1992-96, she was seconded to the research directorate at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, where she was responsible for research and policy on the North and some of the Commission’s work on governance. A political scientist born in Alberta, Dr. Abele attended the University of Calgary, University of Toronto and York University. She has worked with Indigenous peoples all over Canada and in some parts of the circumpolar Arctic for most of her career. Her research has focused on northern economic and political development, Aboriginal self-government, policy and programs important to Aboriginal people living in cities, policy and program evaluation, qualitative research and citizen engagement. Besides her academic publications, Abele has published research reports with the National Centre for First Nations Governance, Canadian Policy Research Networks, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. She is currently a member of the editorial boards of two academic journals: Aboriginal Policy Studies, and Canadian Public Administration, and is spearheading two First Nations governance research initiatives.

Chris Robertson, President, Co’Se’Ma Communications

Chris is the President of Co’Se’Ma Communications, an established and respected consulting practice based in Gibsons Landing on the Sunshine Coast. He has over 20 years of experience specializing in business and community economic development, professional management, strategic planning and communications, organizational governance and most particularily; transitional self-governance and lands and resources support with First Nation communities, their governments and businesses.

Chris, of Gitxsan ancestry, currently provides advisory and facilitation work to a number of First Nations transitioning their Indian Act Administration to their citizen- defined and constitutionally protected self-government and jurisdiction over their territories. He is an experienced business negotiator and executive administrator with specialized training in a variety of facilitation techniques including those complementary to the traditional consensus building philosophies of First Nations.

Chris served an 11 year term as the BC representative on the Executive of the Board of Directors for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). He is also a personal volunteer and mentor to a number of individuals seeking guidance in entrepreneurial consulting and non profit organizational governance.

Darcy Gray, RFNG Peace & Friendship Treaties Co-Leader and Chief of Listuguj Mi’kmaq First Nation

Darcy Gray (he/him) of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation is a dad, educator, and respected community leader. Darcy holds a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Policy and Administration and is currently serving his third consecutive term as Chief.


Rebuilding First Nations Governance (RFNG) is a national alliance of First Nation communities and Tribal Councils, academic researchers and public sector practitioners created to support First Nations leadership and rights holders that have made the decision to transition out from under the Indian Act to their own inherent rights governance. This six-year applied action research project is supported by a $2.5M SSHRC Partnership Grant.

Through a process of community-led research, reflection and action, the project aims to help communities replace the Indian Act with effective and legitimate First Nation governance based on the strategic direction of the community. The research emerges from the priorities identified by the rights holders – the people. It will help Nations reclaim Indigenous forms of decision-making and revitalize Indigenous governance practices.

The webinar series is hosted by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.  The scheduled dates and topics are:

1.    March 3: “A dream of our people for going on eight generations”

2.    April 28: The five pillars of the Inherent Right to Self-Government

3.    June 23: The “ill-fitting boot” – the origin and content of the Indian Act

4.    September 22: It’s A “Full Box”. The Historical Struggle for Recognition of Aboriginal And Treaty Rights

(all four available now at

5.    December 8: From theory to practice: Principles and Strategies for Implementing the Inherent Right to Self-government