By  Jon Cada

Community Engagement Strategy (CES)  sessions continued to generate self-government dialogue in 2012/2013.

During this past year, the CES process delivered seven sessions focusing on the development of First Nation constitutions, laws, and the negotiation of the governance and education agreements with Canada for the recognition of First Nation jurisdiction in these two sectors.

The first session was held in Curve Lake First Nation, where over 30 active participants discussed  how a First Nation constitution would be beneficial to their community. The fiscal arrangements being negotiated with Canada were of special interest.

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation citizens were paying close attention to the development of First Nation constitutions while working on their own lands claims process. They were particularly interested in how a First Nation community can develop an effective communications system with limited resources and funding.

Henvey Inlet First Nation members  focussed on developing their own  citizenship law as the community is currently reviewing its membership code. The Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin and the value of First Nations constitutions were also discussed in depth.

Sheguiandah First Nation was also interested in learning about how a First Nations citizenship law might work and how such a law would be recognized and upheld. Restoration of Jurisdiction  Director, Mike Restoule, explained how the Governance Agreement currently under negotiation with Canada would recognize the authority of First Nations to determine its citizens according to its own laws  The current draft Anishinabek Nation draft citizenship law, the E-dbendaagzijig Naaknigewin, provides a guide for the development of First Nation citizenship laws.  For more info, click on the link below.

Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (Rocky Bay First Nation) was very interested in exploring how the development of a First Nation constitution could be of assistance when dealing with lands and improving community governance generally.  Education continues to be a high priority.

Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation citizens wanted to know more about how the traditional structure of government could work and  create a deeper understanding of how living life according to traditional customs can be a recipe for a better life today for Anishinaabe people. Pic River has long been focused on education and improving educational experiences and achievements for its students.

A CES session was held at the Union of Ontario Indians head office to discuss the self-government initiatives and to update staff on the progress of the negotiations and the developmental work being done in First Nations to prepare for self-government. Ideas were shared for best practices in assisting communities in meeting their goals.

To learn more about the Governance and Education agreements, constitutions and other self-government topics, please visit http://www.anishinabek.ca/roj/index.asp: