Chi-naaknigewinBy Faye Sabourin

The Restoration of Jurisdiction department of the Union of Ontario Indians is fulfilling its mandate to negotiate two Anishinabek Nation Self-government Agreements with Canada to restore jurisdiction in the area of education and governance.

Restoration of jurisdiction over education involves the establishment of the Anishinabek Education System to support First Nations in the delivery of primary, elementary and secondary education programs and services. Restoration of jurisdiction over governance involves exercising authority over leadership selection, citizenship and the administration of First Nation government.

Constitutions are a requirement of participation of both these agreements, therefore each community is required to adopt and ratify its constitution if they wish to participate in either or both agreements.

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council agreed that the education and governance agreements use constitutions as building blocks for governance structures and acknowledge that First Nations have, and always will have an inherent right to self determination and that constitutions are critical expressions of independence, strength, and citizenship protection.

We, Anishinabek are choosing to exercise our inherent right to self government by participating in self government agreements and adopting First Nation constitutions. There are many good reasons for a First Nation to ratify its own constitution. A constitution reflects the principles, values and beliefs of the People; protects citizenship rights and freedoms; shapes the way policy decisions are made and ensures communal decision-making; legitimizes political authority; guarantees leadership accountability; ensures consistency and fairness; more importantly, it creates a sense of pride and unity and, is a building block to sustained economic development and self-sufficiency.

Nipissing First Nation and Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory are two Anishinabek communities who have ratified their community constitutions and the elements laid out are consistent with the self government agreements.

Please click on the link provided for further detail.

The elements of a First Nation constitution will allow a community to begin exercising its own jurisdiction within its own territory; it will allow a community to exercise its inherent right to self determination and will provide a First Nation with guidance as they step towards self government. Additionally, the elements of a First Nation constitution will allow a community to:

a)    Declare your own jurisdiction and authority over matters within your own territory;

b)    Determine your own selection of leadership;

c)     Determine your own citizenship;

d)    Protect your language and culture;

e)    Ensure and maintain First Nation government accountability;

f)     Establish your own law making process;

g)    Delegate jurisdiction and authority;

h)    Establish your own procedures for challenging laws or administrative decisions; 

i)     Establish your own appeals and redress system;

j)      Establish your own conflict of interest rules; and,

k)    Create your own constitutional amendment procedures.

For more information on the Anishinabek Nation Self-government Agreements and constitution development contact the Restoration of Jurisdiction department at the Union of Ontario Indians at 1-877-702-5200.