Major Aboriginal / Federal Government Deal: the ‘Kelowna Accord’

Negotiated and then Intentionally Dumped – Another Example

of Aboriginal Equitable Entitlement to the

Canadian Dream Being Denied 

© 2007 Brad Kempo B.A. LL.B.

Barrister & Solicitor


It was no coincidence that the Erasmus Commission conclusions were abandoned after the transition from the Mulroney to Chrétien governments and the Kelowna Accord was too during the change from Martin to Harper. This is, along with all the other evidence of parliamentary and legislative hypocrisy full proof of the wealthy and Chinese never had any intention of sharing Canada’s wealth with what used to be the largest minority in the country until the invited communist army fully landed.


The Assembly of First Nations and the Government of Canada Agree to Move Forward With Firm Commitments by Endorsing a First Nations Implementation Plan 

November 28, 2005

OTTAWA, Ontario - At the historic First Ministers Meeting (FMM) on Aboriginal Issues held in Kelowna B.C. on November 24-25, 2005, the Government of Canada announced several commitments to First Nations in the areas of relationships, health, education, housing and economic opportunities. To further solidify federal commitments that will benefit First Nations across Canada, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine and Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Andy Scott agreed to a specific First Nations Implementation Plan.

"This Implementation Plan outlines commitments to First Nations as presented in the First Ministers Meeting Communiqué released on November 25, 2005," states National Chief Fontaine, "These commitments are consistent with the principles and objectives of the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments. These new federal commitments will strengthen our special relationship with the federal Crown, as well as our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. The Implementation Plan recognizes the importance to First Nations of self-government in achieving political, social economic and cultural development and improved quality of life."

"The First Ministers Meeting underlined key bread-and-butter issues of better access to health care, rich educational environments for First Nations learners and safe homes and communities," says Minister Scott. "The First Nations Implementation Plan includes commitments that will improve conditions for First Nations living away from their communities."

To monitor progress and to undertake work associated with these commitments, an annual meeting of a specific First Nations Multilateral Forum will take place between First Nations leaders, Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and other sectoral Ministers. Perhaps most critical is the commitment outlined in the First Ministers Meeting Communique to follow up on the FMM with leaders in the next two to three years.

"This will allow us to maintain our momentum and continue the unprecedented collaboration and progress achieved at the First Ministers Meeting," says National Chief Fontaine. "In the past week alone we reached a historic agreement in principle on residential schools and now we have made tremendous progress for the future at the First Ministers Meeting. Imagine what we can achieve in ten years."

Source: Government of Canada


First Nations Implementation Plan

At the First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Meeting in Kelowna, B.C. on November 24 & 25, 2005, First Ministers and First Nation Leaders committed, through the document: First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap, to strengthening relationships between First Nations and federal, provincial and territorial governments. In that spirit, First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders have launched a 10-year dedicated effort to closing the gap in the quality of life that now exists between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians. The ultimate goal of this effort is to address the serious conditions that contribute to poverty among Aboriginal peoples and to ensure that they can benefit more fully from, and contribute to, Canada’s prosperity. In strengthening relationships, all parties are committed to move forward in ways that build on the principles enshrined in the Constitution including the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Aboriginal and treaty rights, including rights under modern land claim agreements, play an important role in improving the quality of life of the First Nations peoples of Canada.

The purpose of the First Nations Implementation Plan is to reflect that federal commitments to promote the goals of the First Ministers Meeting (FMM) will be implemented in a manner consistent with the principles and objectives of the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments.

The intent and purpose of the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments is to commit the Parties to work jointly to promote meaningful processes for reconciliation and implementation of section 35 rights, with First Nation governments to achieve an improved quality of life, and to support policy transformation in other areas of common interest, affirming and having regard to the principles set out in the Accord.

Regional Implementation Approaches and National Process

Consistent with the agreement of First Ministers and First Nations’ Leaders, the commitments in this Implementation Plan must be implemented by working together at the regional level. Implementation will focus on developing practical approaches through existing tripartite or bilateral processes or through new processes where necessary. Regional circumstances will be taken into account.

Cooperation will be a cornerstone for partnership between Canada and First Nations. This requires honorable processes of negotiations and respect for requirements for consultation, accommodation, justification and First Nations’ consent as may be appropriate to the circumstances.

First Nations will be involved in the implementation processes related to the Government of Canada’s FMM commitments and investments.

First Ministers and First Nations Leaders have acknowledged the special relationship between First Nations and the Crown. The federal commitments made in the document: First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap, must be developed and implemented in a manner consistent with the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments.

First Nations and First Ministers recognize the importance to First Nations of self government in achieving political, social, economic and cultural development and improved quality of life.

At the national level, a First Nations Multilateral Forum will be established to facilitate discussions with the Government of Canada and all provincial and territorial governments except Nunavut on First Nations-specific issues.

The Forum will be convened annually at the Ministerial level to coordinate efforts and monitor progress: 

The Forum will be composed of ministers of Aboriginal Affairs, First Nations leaders and sectoral ministers as appropriate and agreed to by First Nations and federal, provincial and territorial governments, with the exception of Nunavut. 

The Forum will advise and support regional multilateral processes, create linkages across sectors and guide and monitor the implementation of national commitments, as appropriate.


(i)                 The Forum will also report to future First Ministers Meetings.

(ii)               Reporting will be based on a set of preliminary national indicators which could include:

(iii)             Life expectancy, infant mortality, childhood obesity and premature mortality;

(iv)              Educational attainment, linked to language acquisition, and employment;

(v)                Housing affordability, suitability and adequacy, and water quality.


The Government of Canada and First Nations governments will work collaboratively with First Nations women to address their needs through their full participation in the development of culturally-relevant policies and programs that affect First Nations peoples.

The Government of Canada and First Nations recognize, as reflected in the FMM Main Document, the role of provincial and territorial governments in supporting and complementing the joint efforts in this First Nations Implementation Plan.

In addition to the undertakings in the Implementation Plan, there will be further discussions on how to address the unique challenges of implementing FMM Commitments with First Nations in the NWT and the Yukon.


The First Nations Framework in the Blueprint on Aboriginal Health identifies specific federal commitments to First Nations health.

The First Nations collective vision is to be served by their own distinct yet coordinated health system which ensures a full continuum of services, a holistic approach to health and the integrity of traditional healing practices.

In the context of the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments, new approaches proposed in the Blueprint will be informed by any discussion of health within the treaty and fiduciary context.

The First Nations Blueprint Framework identifies several specific federal commitments including sustainability, strengthening the role and capacity of First Nations in public health, telehealth, and First Nations capacity in health research.

Further, the Government of Canada commits to invest to enhance First Nations health programs and services, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the First Nations governments and organizations to deliver health services including through accreditation of facilities, streamlined reporting and patient supports.

First Nations, provinces and territories, and the Government of Canada agree on the need for improved coordination and collaboration in addressing gaps between and within federally-funded, provincially- funded and territorially-funded continuing care services and will initiate steps in the short term to ensure this happens. It is recognized that new service delivery mechanisms will be developed in a manner that addresses jurisdictional issues to the satisfaction of all parties.


All stages of the life long learning continuum are critical to achieving better results, with the support of parents, families, elders and communities. In the future, this will mean linking and enhancing programs and services all along the continuum, in particular, early learning and child care and post-secondary education.

The Government of Canada, in partnership with First Nations governments/ organizations, has committed to working to improve the educational outcomes of First Nations learners by:

Implementing First Nations jurisdiction and control over education on-reserve or in self-governing First Nations, with the collaboration, through negotiation, of provincial/territorial governments;

Developing First Nations regional and sub-regional K-12 education systems and supporting First Nations school governing bodies (outside public education systems);

Supporting high quality environments for First Nations learners on reserve, and those attending schools established pursuant to self-government and sectoral agreements, through investments in facilities and innovations in curricula and teachers/administrators;

Developing and supporting First Nations/provincial/territorial/federal protocols or arrangements to work together to improve educational outcomes for First Nations learners; and,

Supporting the development and implementation of First Nations school systems performance management, assessment and reporting mechanisms.

First Nations, working with Provinces and territories, and, when appropriate, the Government of Canada, will work together to better support all First Nations learners moving between First Nations schools and public education systems, including:

  • reciprocal tuition arrangements;
  • effective interface between First Nations and provincial/territorial teacher certification, and certification of teachers in First Nations language and cultures;
  • recognition of graduation requirements;
  • exchange of appropriate student information;
  • data sharing;
  • professional development; and,
  • reciprocal sharing of knowledge and expertise.


The Government of Canada and First Nations have committed to work together to address housing needs by:

Developing a series of new initiatives that focuses on enhancing and supporting First Nations control over housing on reserve and pursuant to self-government and sectoral agreements. These initiatives will develop new approaches in First Nations housing, including the development of new institutional arrangements.

Developing practical means and tools required to fundamentally change the delivery of housing over time on reserve and pursuant to self-government and sectoral agreements. Changes will include support for increased market based housing, including the ability to lever funds in financial markets, capacity development, increased investments in housing-related training (e.g., training and apprenticeships in construction and skilled trades) and infrastructure and ensuring housing investments are focused on areas of greatest need. The needs of First Nations women will be addressed, including housing issues arising from marital or relationship breakdown.

Exploring new options to support greater community access to land and improved land management capacity. Alternative financing instruments and new relationships with First Nation-controlled financial institutions will also be developed. Economic opportunities that flow from these initiatives (e.g., home construction and maintenance) must be managed in a manner that maximizes the direct benefits to First Nations communities.

Supporting social/subsidized housing requirements. Assistance to address immediate housing shortages and overcrowding will be provided on the basis of need.

Where there is agreement, First Nations and the Government of Canada and provincial and territorial governments will create new housing partnerships with regard to First Nations living off reserve.

The Government of Canada accepts responsibility for assisting First Nations with respect to necessary potable water infrastructure on reserve. Canada will jointly work with First Nations to develop the necessary infrastructure required for an effective housing strategy on reserve. This means accelerating activities to ensure the safety of water supplies within established water and wastewater standards, as well as continued improvements in other basic infrastructure including roads and fire protection. Particular attention will be given to developing and implementing, with First Nations, a regime for the testing and regulation of water in First Nations communities. Collaboration with provinces and relevant territories will be obtained through agreements. Indicators to measure progress on these critical elements related to improving housing conditions on reserve will be developed jointly by First Nations and the Government of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and relevant territorial governments.

Economic Opportunities

Economic opportunities encompass activities both within First Nations communities as well as First Nations involvement in broader regional, national and international economies. It includes opportunities for wealth creation among both individuals and communities, including opportunities arising from the implementation of Aboriginal and treaty rights and land claims agreements, which are priority subjects under the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments.

First Ministers and First Nation Leaders have agreed that early opportunities for action must be seized, such as economic infrastructure, training and skills development, connectivity, improving the regulatory environment, resource development, and business investment and development. Further, the Government of Canada and First Nations have agreed that they will develop in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, and the private sector, regional-based strategic frameworks to facilitate economic opportunities and partnerships, and report through the multilateral process.


Ottawa pledges $5 billion to aboriginals

CBC News

November 25, 2005

Prime Minister Paul Martin has closed a two-day summit on aboriginal issues by pledging federal funding of more than $5 billion over the next five years for a program to improve the lives of native people.

Martin called the deal, reached after intense negotiations in Kelowna, B.C., with premiers and a handful of aboriginal leaders, "an unprecedented step forward."

"Aboriginal Canadians have no desire for more rhetoric," Martin told a news conference that closed the summit on Friday. "They have needs and those needs demand attention. It's as simple as that."

But while the deal sets targets to improve education, housing, economic development, health and water services, details of how some of the money will be spent and who will provide the services must still be negotiated.

The government has targeted $1.8 billion for education, to create school systems, train more aboriginal teachers and identify children with special needs.

Ottawa also plans to invest $1.6 billion in housing, including $400 million to address the need for clean water in many remote communities. As well, $1.3 billion has been promised for health services and $200 million for economic development.

Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called the deal a breakthrough for his people.

"All of the targets we've set are achievable," said Fontaine. "We're driving this process and we're forcing government to respond to our plan."

Despite the deal, the issue of providing health services remains outstanding. The final communique described it as "a work in progress."

Although health care is a provincial responsibility, the health and welfare of First Nations is under federal jurisdiction. Native groups and the premiers are concerned that Ottawa will download its historic responsibilities.

And with Martin's minority government likely to fall Monday, the $5.1-billion commitment is not guaranteed.

Some aboriginal leaders left the summit disappointed.

Beverly Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association, said there's nothing in this agreement to curb the alarming rate of violence against women.

Jacobs thought of walking out of the meeting in protest, but she changed her mind after Martin promised to hold a summit on native women's issues.

"We thought it as important that we stayed to make sure our voices are heard," she said. "We wanted to stay and continue the fight."


Living conditions for First Nations 'unacceptable': Fontaine

February 6, 2007


First Nations people in Canada live in "Third World" conditions, with a lack of access to clean water and decent housing, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said Tuesday.

"We rank no better than a Third World country, and that is simply unacceptable. There is no good reason why our people should be as poor as they are," Phil Fontaine said in Toronto.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine says 'there is no good reason' why First Nations people should live in such poverty.

(CBC) In a keynote address at an assembly National Housing and Water Policy Forum, Fontaine said there is no question that the federal government must spend more money to address the serious problems in First Nations communities.

Fontaine said problems include unsafe drinking water, crowded homes, high unemployment, high suicide rates, limited access to quality health care, and thousands of children being looked after by provincial child-welfare authorities.

There are boil water advisories on more than 100 reserves, with about 35 communities in crisis over lack of access to clean drinking water. As well, on average, there are more than four people in every First Nations home, Fontaine said.

"When we start talking about the many crisis situations that exist in our communities, the response is usually: more money is not the answer," he said. "We all know more money is needed."

Fontaine said the government has made millions available to upgrade military equipment for the Armed Forces and to correct a perceived fiscal imbalance among some provinces.

If the federal government wants to make money the answer to problems, it clearly can, he said.

"The health of our people relies on clean water, clean air and healthy homes," he said.

Fontaine acknowledged, however, that First Nations people must help to find the solutions to existing problems by working with government officials and business leaders.

"It is all up to us. We must do it. We must create the solutions ourselves. Our community must decide on our future. We must work together to fix the system that has produced the results that we are living today," he said.

"We want to be real contributors to Canada's prosperity. We never ever wanted to be dependent on someone else. Any suggestion that we are happy with our current situation is so completely wrong."

Despair leads to suicide

John Beaucage, grand council chief of the Anishinabek Nation, which includes 42 First Nations communities in northern Ontario, told CBC News on Tuesday that the poverty leaves young people on reserves with a sense of despair.

"This despair is resulting from poor housing, where there may be four or five families living in one house that has three bedrooms and they take turns sleeping on the beds at night," he said.

"It's a situation where they are unsure of their drinking water supply and that drinking water could have E. coli or other kinds of bacteria. I think probably the most disturbing thing is this despair often leads these young people even to contemplate suicide.

"The suicide rates in northern communities are astronomical. They are crisis in proportion," Beaucage said.

Fontaine told reporters after his speech that the northern Ontario community of Kashechewan, which was evacuated in 2005 because of contaminated drinking water, is one community where suicide is a huge problem.

According to media reports, as many as 21 people between the ages of nine and 23 tried to commit suicide last month. Fontaine said "urgent action" is needed in the community.

Beaucage said the three-day forum in Toronto will give First Nations leaders a chance to pool ideas on how to improve housing and bring clean water to their communities.

"We want to target the communities at greatest risk," he said.

Beaucage said the government has a role to play in solving the problems of First Nations but it must respect their right to govern themselves.

"We are just moving into a position where we are able to do the work ourselves and we are saying to the federal government, stand out of the way, let us do it."

Human rights complaint

Fontaine said Monday the assembly is planning to file a human rights complaint against the federal government because, the assembly alleges, Ottawa is underfunding aboriginal child-welfare services.

One in 10 aboriginal children is in foster care, compared with one in 200 non-aboriginal children. According to the assembly, child welfare agencies for First Nations receive 22 per cent less money than those that deal with non-aboriginal children.

After the Harper government took office last year, it scrapped a $5.1-billion aboriginal spending plan worked out by the previous Liberal government at a first ministers meeting in Kelowna, B.C.

Known as the Kelowna accord, it promised to improve the social and economic conditions of aboriginal people.

Fontaine said the government needs to look at how much it spends on First Nations every fiscal year because aboriginal people are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population.

"It's a complete misrepresentation to argue that First Nations have too much money, or enough money," Fontaine said. "We all know the opposite to be true."

The assembly describes itself as the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada. Canada has more than 630 First Nations communities and about 756,700 First Nations people.


Charest calls on Harper to honour Kelowna aboriginal accord

by Elizabeth Thompson

Montreal Gazette

March 4, 2007

PIKOGAN, Que. - Quebec Premier Jean Charest called Saturday on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to honour the Kelowna accord, saying the money the federal government had pledged would make a big difference in the lives of Quebec's First Nations.

"I thought the Kelowna meeting was significant and that we should pursue what was done in Kelowna," Charest told reporters. "I would like them to honour it."

Saturday's comment marks one of the few times Charest has openly criticized a decision taken by Harper, a man who has become a political ally for his government over the past year.

The Kelowna Accord was hammered out between aboriginal leaders and Canada's first ministers in November 2005 in the dying days of Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's government. The deal called for $5 billion to be spent over five years to improve education, housing, skills training, economic development and health care for Canada's aboriginals.

However, Harper's government has refused to recognize the agreement, dismissing it as little more than a press release. Harper says the Liberal government announced something it had never provided for financially, however, the Liberals maintain that the money promised had been earmarked for Canada's first nations before they were defeated.

Charest, who participated in the meeting that led to the accord, said Ottawa should work to accomplish what the agreement set out to do - even if it decides to do it differently.

"I would like to see them pursue Kelowna... If they choose not to do it exactly the same way, (then) to do essentially what we all committed to doing in Kelowna."

One area where the Kelowna agreement would be changing the lives of Quebec's aboriginals, if it were being implemented, is in housing, Charest said.

Charest's comments came shortly before he visited the Algonquin Indian reserve of Pikogan near Alma, Que., home to the Abitibiwinni First Nation.

Band Councillor Bruno Kistabish agrees the Conservatives should honour the agreement, saying there are a lot of areas in which the federal government could be doing a lot more to help his reserve.

Pikogan, like many first nations communities, has been going through a baby boom - 50 per cent of the community's population is under the age of 18. In some cases, two families have to share a house. The northern community has around 140 homes but desperately needs 75-80 more to house its rapidly growing population.

"We build six houses and there is no more space. The situation is getting urgent."

The community also needs more money for education and for health care, said Kistabish.

"A lot of people have diabetes. It is a scourge in native communities."

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, said he boycotted the Kelowna talks because what was proposed was not enough to meet the needs of Canada's first nations.

Refusing to honour what little there was is even worse, he said.

The handful of announcements made by Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice when he attended last fall's socio-economic summit pale in comparison to what was called for in the Kelowna deal, he said.


First Nations chief calls for government action

by Chris Tait

Gauntlet News

March 8, 2007

The Canadian government needs to step up and address the issue of Aboriginal poverty, according to the head of the Assembly of First Nations.

National chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine spoke at the University of Calgary Fri., Mar. 2 in a presentation hosted by the sociology department.

"The single most important challenge we face is poverty," said Fontaine. "First Nations people are simply too poor. There is no good reason for this in Canada. Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, consistently ranked between third and eighth in the world by the United Nations. But if you isolate First Nations people, we rank anywhere from 63 to 68, which means we are no better than Third World countries."

"First Nations poverty is a stain on Canada," he continued. "Canada, if it did things right, would be a model for the rest of the world, but right now, this claim cannot be made."

Specific issues include a housing crisis, poor access to quality health care and education and unemployment rates that reach as high as 80-90 per cent in some communities. Fontaine also noted First Nations communities have a suicide rate approximately six-times higher than the national average, with young men below the age of 24 particularly susceptible.

Not content with simply stating what the problem is, Fontaine recognized that in order for conditions to improve, First Nations people need the support of the government and the business community. With this goal in mind, Fontaine is calling for a corporate challenge, where corporations are encouraged to partner with or invest in First Nations businesses.

"The corporate challenge aims to benefit First Nations communities," said Fontaine. "Sixty per cent of our population is under the age of 24. [Since Canada] has an aging population, there is no reason why the business community cannot take advantage of this incredible resource offered by our community--creating a highly skilled, highly mobile workforce."

Fontaine also mentioned the Kelowna accord, which aims to close the gap between the First Nations peoples and the rest of the country. The deal, which was the result of 18 months of work, proposed $5.1 billion in funding from the federal government. While the government initially agreed to the ideas driving the accord, there have been no tangible results, noted Fontaine.

"I think we would all agree that the money went to a one per cent decrease in GST, because that also cost $5 billion," said Fontaine.

Fontaine was quick to dispute critics who accuse First Nations of poor money management.

"Many say that there is enough money, that the problem is actually in structure," said Fontaine. "Of the $9 billion that supposedly goes to First Nations, less than $5 billion goes to First Nations governments--these initiatives speak well to people who believe that chiefs and councils are responsible for everything that is wrong with the communities. One can't argue in a reasonable way that chiefs and councils are responsible for this. What we are seeing is a terrible, disingenuous approach that says, 'Blame the victim.' The argument goes that First Nations are poor because of the reserve system, or because there are too many chiefs."

"For us, the issues that get the most coverage are problems," he added. "Once you start talking about problems, people despair. I would much rather see success stories. People don't know about these success stories, these incredible achievements, because they are hard to market."

When asked about the potential for a federal election this spring, Fontaine said he hopes First Nations issues will be included in the debates.

"We want our people to participate in the electoral process," said Fontaine. "In fact, we are entering into the second phase of an initiative with Elections Canada. We want our people to be engaged. There are at least 63 ridings in the country where we can make a difference."

"It would be unfortunate if an election were to be called without a resolution of some of the most important issues faced by the country, including First Nations poverty. If there is an election, we would hope that the debate would include these issues."

Whether or not there is an election, Fontaine will continue his work.

"We are not a mainstream political party," he noted. "My responsibility is to engage with governments of all political stripes. We don't pick sides."

Fontaine, who hails from Manitoba, was re-elected to his third term as national chief of the assembly of Manitoba chiefs in July 2006. The national assembly is a political organization which acts as the voice of First Nations citizens, representing 633 communities and roughly 800,000 individuals.



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