Law and Policy Essential to Nation Rebuilding
NCFNG Delivers New Law and Policy Workshop for First Nations Communities
Nation rebuilding and implementing self-governance requires nations to design new institutions, assume jurisdiction, and create laws and policies that reflect their people’s priorities, beliefs and values.
First Nations are increasingly exercising their rights in many areas including land use, elections, education, citizenship, and child welfare. Nations require tools to improve decision making, maximize jurisdiction and ensure greater cultural match in their nation rebuilding efforts. The National Centre for First Nations Governance has addressed this need by developing and piloting an innovative Law and Policy Development workshop. The workshop is available to First Nations across Canada and was successfully piloted among a variety of BC First Nations leaders who gathered in the Tsleil-waututh territory in Vancouver, BC.
“It is widely acknowledged that laws are an expression of public policy. Implementation of self-governance requires first nations to make laws and policies which reflect their priorities and values. By doing so, they will create strong, stable and culturally relevant governments which derive their authority from pre-existing laws and systems of governance”, says Anisa White of NCFNG’s Land, Law and Governance Research directorate.
White adds that, “In an era where the Crown has heightened obligations to consult and accommodate First Nations, it is incumbent upon first nation governments to set out clearly defined consultation and accommodation policies. Policy development is a critical part of protecting the rights and interests of nations as well as ensuring territorial integrity. We need to move forward in reconciling the rights and interests of First Nations with the assertion of Crown sovereignty. Ultimately, exercising inherent rights of self-governance begins with law and policy”.
In the Law and Policy Development workshop, participants learned how to identify areas of jurisdiction and how to develop policy options that are culturally appropriate for their people. They were asked to consider how citizen engagement will support better law and policy development and identify key areas that matter to their communities.
“Participants expressed their commitment to utilize the new skills and workshop checklists in their respective communities”, shares NCFNG facilitator, Pawa Haiyupis. The workshop was well received by First Nations participants as well as Simon Fraser University’s Masters in Public Policy students who were also in attendance. NCFNG developed this workshop in partnership with Tsawwassen Fist Nation as well as the SFU Policy Masters program team that included Doug McArthur.
The workshop is delivered by aboriginal facilitators that have the knowledge and experience of First Nation communities, history, and law. They have been trained to use innovative facilitation techniques to communicate the key concepts to a diverse audience. All material used in the workshop is grounded in legal, academic and community-based research for restoring First Nations.
This workshop is intended to introduce First Nation governments to policy analysis and its key components – to learn to define the issue, develop policy options, choose the recommended option and make the recommendation – along with important related topics such as research and community consultation.
The course also focuses on the practical – providing checklists and tips for using policy skills to deal with the wide array of policy issues that arise for First Nations governments and applying those skills in the context of First Nations Governments.