We conduct confidential assessments of your First Nation government, corporation and other entities. The purpose is to provide an independent assessment to determine the effectiveness of your internal governance processes. We understand the complexitites of governing in a small community that places unique and challenging demands on leadership, staff and Members. The framework assesses your strengths and challenges against fundamental elements and best practices of other aboriginal governments, or against other criteria, as determined on a case-by-case basis. The results are summarized in a confidential report and include recommendations for incremental change.
ESTABLISH GOVERNMENT STRUCTURES & INSTITUTIONS
Building effective institutions means defining the distribution of power between internal branches of your government. The primary questions to answer in constituting a government will be what is the structure, and who is responsible for what. This requires directly addressing the scope and limits of the powers of hereditary, cultural and elected leaders. The objective is to establish culturally appropriate and accountable institutions that are representative of the legitimate authority of your people. Our experience is grounded in working collaboratively with hereditary and elected leaders to ensure the effectiveness of your government institutions.
We develop and implement workplans to coordinate this complex work. We faciliate dialgoue on these fundamental questions to identify key issues related to roles & responsibilities, conduct or oversee research, analyze options and recommend ways to strengthen decision-making processes and establish instititions. Likewise, we are cognizant that an extremely important aspect of this work involves community engagement.
RESEARCH & POLICY DEVELOPMENT
Policies contribute to the larger vision and goals of a government. Often the challenge is that within many First Nation communities, there are varying levels of experience and competencies in policy analysis and devleopment. We draft & amend policies & codes, including to conduct research and analysis, and develop options as important steps in the process. Additionally, engaging Members in the process ensures there is a clear understanding of the complexities of the policy, including the objective and rationale for options. Ratification of codes by citizens also provides stability to governments, as it then becomes less likely the policy issue will be reintroduced with any subsequent change in leadership.
ABORIGINAL TITLE STRATEGY
The 2014 Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot'in decision provides an opportunity for First Nations to develop and implement a strategy to set your own agenda for reconciliation with governments. While the facts on the ground differ in every situation, it is a reasonable likelihood that all First Nations are in a strengthened position to seek a declaration of title, either through a negotiated agreement or court declaration. Development of a Title Strategy is a strategic response that will help to establish the legal, political and economic agenda in your traditional territory. Importantly, the Strategy must have the support of leadership and Members and include implementation responsibilities and timeframes.
Another crucial factor that plays a significant role in the success of First Nation governments is having a strategic plan. Althought this seems obvious, it is not always the norm for First Nations across Canada. Most First Nations operate under two-year election terms and annual funding cycles under the Indian Act. Given these constraints, some Councils cannot see the relevance investing in long-term planning. However, research indicates First Nations with a strategic vision/ plan achieve meaningful change and better outcomes for their people. A community-based (& supported) strategic plan that establishes specific objectives and priorities enables your government to connect their decisions to long-term goals. Likewise, carrying the work of the strategic plan across election cycles will also contribute to the long-term stability of the First Nation government.
Engaging community Members to participate in decision-making is critical to the legitimacy of your government, especially as your First Nation expands its jurisdiction and authority. The challenge is that signicant community consultatation is not a priority in many communities - or it may have to be done off the side of someone's desk. We develop communication plans to increase accountability to your Members; develop ratification plans for referendum votes, policies and codes; and provide general support to Councils or Committees tasked with providing Members with factual and plain-language information on current governance issues.
Effective governance includes providing professional development opportunities for government leaders (elected and hereditary) and senior management teams. We customize leadership training based on the level of experience, priorities and needs of your community. This may include Chief & Council orientation sessions and/or to faciliate sessions for new councils setting priorities at the outset of their term.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL & INDUSTRY RELATIONS
The 2015 Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report includes 94 broadly-based 'Calls to Action', several of which are directed towards local government. Likewise, many provincial governments have committed their governments to work with Aboriginal partners and local governments to develop off-reserve Aboriginal action plans to improve socio-economic outcomes for off-reserve Aboriginal people. We work with local governments and industry to develop strategies to be proactive on aboriginal issues and interests.