The national meeting hosted over 320 delegates from over 160 FMA and/or FNLMA First Nations communities across the country. Most participants commented that it was the best, most forward looking and optimistic First Nation led meeting that they had ever attended.  The event featured a number of influential presentations, engaging panel discussions, thought-provoking films, interactive multimedia encouraging attendee participation and important First Nation-led proposals to be advanced. To view the full agenda, click here.

The presenters included influential leaders of the host institutions CT (Manny) Jules (Chief Commissioner of the FNTC), Harold Calla (Executive Chair of the FNFMB), Ernie Daniels (President & CEO of FNFA), and Robert Louie (Chairman of the LAB) as well as Howard Grant (Councillor for Musqueam Nation), Christina Clarke (Executive Director for Songhees First Nation, Dalyn Bear (Councillor for Whitecap Dakota First Nation), and Chief David Jimmie (Squiala First Nation & AFN Chiefs’ Committee on Fiscal Relations Co-Chair).

Some of the other highlights of the conference include:

Special Guest Te Maire Tau of the Ngāi Tahu in New Zealand, University of Canterbury, and the Alliance for Renewing Indigenous Economies spoke about the similarities and differences between First Nations and Maori. He also discussed the successes and challenges with the Maori corporate fiscal relationship model and their move towards greater governance and expanded jurisdiction of their lands.

“Our tribe doesn’t question or challenge the crown’s sovereignty. We just want the crown’s recognition of our land title. We want jurisdiction over our lands.”

“Our ideas need to spread throughout the Commonwealth. We are creating a future. Our tribe stands with you.” 

Allan Claxton and Jason Calla of the First Nations Infrastructure Institution (FNII) Development Board discussed the details of the proposed new infrastructure institution.

“The First Nation Infrastructure Institute would be established within the Fiscal Management Act to work in partnership with interested First Nations to support a better system.” Allan Claxton, FNII Development Board.

“Before contact, we had our own institutions and built our own infrastructure.” Jason Calla, FNII Development Board.

“INAC funding decisions are based on the Canadian government’s priorities. The FNII will be based on your communities’ priorities.” Jason Calla, FNII Development Board.

A panel for each of the host institutions:

First Nations Tax Commission panel facilitated by Stone Bear (Tobique) with Deanna Honeyman (Tzeachten), Ernest Jack (Penticton) and Kate McCue (Chippewas of Georgina Island) discussed the process of joining the FMA and setting up a taxation system and the benefits of First Nation tax jurisdiction and fiscal power.

“Initially we mirrored provincial tax law, but we now have our own laws and we generate revenue to improve community infrastructure.” Deanna Honeyman, Tzeachten First Nation.

“Tax revenue allows us to provide housing and security in our community.” Deanna Honeyman, Tzeachten First Nation.

“Independent revenue helps us move our community forward. We don’t have to wait for funding. I like revenue better than I like funding.” Ernest Jack, Penticton First Nation.

First Nations Financial Management Board panel facilitated by Joe Bevan (Kitselas) with Chief David Crate (Fisher River First Nation), Dwayne Nashkawa (Nipissing First Nation) and Chief Maureen Thomas (Tsleil-Waututh) talked about the importance of financial transparency and investor certainty and the process and institutional support involved in attaining financial management certification through the FMB.

“The focus has always been building capacity in our community.” Chief David Crate, Fisher River First Nation.

“The core was for us to build capacity and confidence in the community.” Dwayne Nashkawa, Nipissing First Nation.

“We have all these young people in our community and they understand that these dollars are not just for now. They know they have to plan for the future.” Chief Maureen Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation.

First Nations Finance Authority panel facilitated by Frank Busch (Nisichawayasihk) with Peter Kirby (Taku River Tlingit), Mike MacIntyre (Membertou) and Chief Frieda Martselos (Salt River) spoke about the benefits of becoming FNFA borrowing members and accessing capital to fund projects and other services on First Nation lands.

“The biggest problem we had was we had no equity, but the First Nations Finance Authority helped us finance real estate deals and secure title to some of our traditional lands.” Mike MacIntyre, Membertou First Nation.

“Thanks to the First Nations Finance Authority, we’ve been able to do things for ourselves. And thank goodness for that.” Chief Frieda Martselos, Salt River First Nation.

Lands Advisory Board panel facilitated by Leah George-Wilson (Tsleil-Waututh) with Dean Bear (in for Chief Austin Bear) (Muskoday), Anthony Laforge (Magnetawan) and Stephan McGlenn (SEMÁ:TH) discussed their experiences as Land Code First Nations and operating outside of the Indian Act land management framework.

“I’m often asked ‘Would you ever go back to the Indian Act?’ And I emphatically say ‘no damn way.” Dean Bear, Muskoday First Nation.

“Land Code is the source of our authority. It’s not granted to us by any other government.” Stephen McGlenn, SEMÁ:TH.

A panel on education and training facilitated by Stone Bear (Tobique) with Dr. Andre Le Dressay (Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics), Deanna Honeyman (First Nations Tax Administrators Association), Mike Mearns (Aboriginal Financial Officers Association BC) and Angie Derrickson (Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre) as well as special guest and Tulo alumni Chief Laurence Paskemin (Sweetgrass First Nation) discussed the various education, training and capacity development initiatives undertaken by their respective organizations.

“We provide options for First Nations — with the consent of their communities — to manage their lands outside of the Indian Act.” Angie Derrickson, Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre.

“At Tulo, we’re very much about the practical instruments of jurisdiction. Tulo is your school for the tools needed to implement jurisdiction in your communities.” Dr. Andre LeDressay, Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics

“With Tulo’s help, we are working to stop the brain drain and bring jobs and people back to our community.” Chief Laurence Paskemin, Sweetgrass First Nation.

Speakers (FNFI & LAB)

C.T. (Manny) Jules | Chief Commissioner FNTC

Harold Calla | Executive Chair FNFMB

Ernie Daniels | President & CEO FNFA

Robert Louie | Chairman LAB

River Rock Resort & Casino, Richmond, BC