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.

This five-part webinar series in 2021 explored the underlying themes of the project and the work of First Nations communities that are on the path to exercising their inherent right to self-government.

March 3, 2021: “A dream of our people for going on eight generations” 

What is Rebuilding First Nations Governance all about? Research project co-leads Satsan (Herb George) of the Centre for First Nations Governance and Dr. Frances Abele, Carleton University introduce the scope, structure and purpose of this SSHRC-funded project to support First Nations to achieve self-government, and talk with First Nations partners about why being involved in this project is important to them.

April 28, 2021: “The 5 pillars of the Inherent Right to Self-Government”

What makes an effective self-governing First Nation and what does it take to get there? Let the team from the Centre for First Nations Governance walk you through the five pillars and seven principles for effective self-governance: people, land, laws and jurisdiction, governing systems & resources. This made-for-Canada model was developed through extensive consultations with First Nations citizens, leaders, elders, academics and on-the-ground facilitators associated with the Centre. Satsan, Chris Robertson, and Pawa Haiyupis will explain the framework as well as share their experiences working with communities to transition from Indian Act administration to self-government.

June 23, 2021: “The Ill-Fitting Boot: Origin and Content of the Indian Act”

A 150-year-old law designed for assimilation – the Indian Act – continues to govern the relationship between Canada and First Nation peoples. Although it has been amended and added to over time, it lingers as an impediment to self-determination and reconciliation. It still treats individuals as wards of the state, imposes ill-fitting governance on communities, subverts accountability between First Nations leaders and citizens, and is wholly inadequate for the exercise of self-government.

September 29, 2021: “It’s A Full Box: The Historical Struggle for Recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights”

Pre-existing Aboriginal rights, including the right to self-government, are a fact of the Canadian constitution and the Common Law. But getting these rights fully recognized and fully implemented remains a challenge for First Nations, for Canada and for the courts. Legal experts and RFNG project partners, Kent McNeil and Naiomi Metallic discuss the historical struggle for rights recognition and what the current context means for First Nations’ laws, law-making and self-government.

December 8, 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 takes a realistic look at the work involved in becoming self-governing – the principles, the planning, the challenges, and the successes.