The Transitional Governance Program


The Centre’s Transitional Governance Program is a multi-year initiative that helps First Nations move beyond their Indian Act administration to their own self-determining government. We offer a range of services that empower First Nations to rebuild effective and efficient governance with their people and over their territories.

  • Citizens learn about their inherent rights, decide on the creation of their governance and provide direction to leadership.
  • Citizens participate in the design of a governing body that exercises jurisdiction over the nation’s territories and creates laws for the benefit of the community.
  • This new governing body is authorized by the nation’s constitution to make laws, provide services and represent the First Nation in negotiations with outside parties. 

This Program is Rolled Out in Six Parts

First Nations progress through the program at their own pace, supported by the Centre every step of the way.

Engage Citizens. The people are the rights holders, so we start by engaging your people in a dialogue about their inherent rights and self-governance. We ask them to develop a shared vision of a future beyond the Indian Act and to identify their priorities.

Develop a Work Plan. We support your nation to develop work plan that reflects your citizen’s vision and priorities for transitioning to self-governance. Your nation will be asked to create a transition team that is fully supported by the community and leadership and that is mandated to implement the plan.

Review Governance. How is your First Nation organized?  We identify policies that are connected to the Indian Act, those that are outside the Indian Act and new policies to aid in the transition to self-government. We look at how the band office and leadership works with policy and suggest ways to take control of the Indian Act and start exercising governance outside of it.

Dialogue with Citizens. We work with your nation to identify processes for continued communication, education and community participation. Leadership must seek understanding, consent, and strategic direction from its citizens, the rights holders.

Design a New Governing Body. How will your new governance be organized?  We ask citizens to help design a governing body based on principles of effective governance. Your nation will develop a constitution that that defines the nation and sets out the rules, laws and the rights of its citizens. The constitution describes the composition of the governing body and its procedures for making laws.

Realize Self-Government. We support your nation as your citizens approve their constitution and provide their new governing body with the authority to represent them and develop laws on their behalf.

Participate in Rebuilding First Nations Governance.

Rebuilding First Nations Governance is a six-year research project to identify the most effective ways for First Nations to transition from Indian Act administrations to self-determining governments. Community-led research emerges from the priorities identified by the rights holders – the people – with the aim of developing a roadmap and tools to help First Nations reclaim Indigenous forms of decision-making and revitalize Indigenous governance practices.