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The consultation process between Indian Affairs and elected Indian leaders has changed little over the years. The department continues to seek the opinion of Indians and then proceeds to do whatever it intended in the first place.
At the same time that this process was going on, the Department of Indian Affairs was drawing up the infamous White Paper Policy which sought to refine and continue the long-standing termination policy of the Government.
A more recent example is the consultation process which the present government claims is the basis for formulation of its Local Government Guidelines. A summary of the findings of the Task Force on Contributions to Bands dated May 17, 1973, contains recommendations made by Indian people and/or field staff. It has been suggested in Parliament that this document is evidence of consultation with Indian leaders with regard to the recent guidelines.
There are many guidelines in the Department's latest policy which appear neither in the discussions nor recommendations of the summary. Examples are: redefinitions of the meaning of "Chief', "Council", and "Reserve"; definition of a "Local Government Authority"; and the establishment of District Councils. On the other hand, a number of recommendations in the summary are ignored completely. Examples are: development of a local government manual in consultation with Band Councils and Regional staff; development of a practical and easily understood bookkeeping and accounting system; and improvement of the communication of policy and authorities from Headquarters to Bands.
Whether on a national, regional, district or individual Band issue, the Department continues to seek the opinion of Indians and then proceeds to do whatever it intended to do in the first place. Programs are developed in detail, organizational changes made and then an alleged 'consultation" process is carried on with Indian leaders in an attempt to get them to rubber stamp Departmental programs after the fact.
Principles must be developed, and mutually agreed upon, which provide for on-going dialogue through to the point of arriving at mutually agreeable solutions before any policies, regulations or guidelines are developed let alone adopted, printed, circulated or implemented.
The implementation of these guidelines is altering the Department's fiduciary duties to us established by our Treaties and the Indian Act. In their place a contractual relationship between the Federal and Indian Bands or other Indian groups is being substituted. This is an unlawful attempt to circumvent the intentions of Parliament expressed in its legislation.
The implementation of the present policy and guidelines will result in Indian Affairs isolating itself from its responsibilities to Indians by imposing a new level of bureaucracy. The Indian Act specifically prohibits this, clearly contemplating that Indian Affairs will be directly responsible to Reserves and Indians.
Many of the Local Government Guidelines have the effect of amending the Indian Act and are of questionable legality.
The current Local Government Guidelines are imposed directives in total defiance of the rights we have been guaranteed. It is inaccurate and dishonest to call such directives "guidelines".
In light of the serious legal and fiscal implications of such guidelines, they have been unanimously rejected by the 69 Bands in Saskatchewan.
On the other hand, when a Band Council operates the program, it must draw upon the local program funds to provide for all these costs, thereby reducing program expenditures and effectiveness.
When the churches were involved in the administration of educational services for Indians, they had the authority to nominate persons for appointment to Civil Service positions. They also had the authority to evaluate such civil servants. These authorities were regularly and fully exercised.
We require the authority to supervise and conduct the evaluation of all civil servants in the Department of Indian Affairs, who are involved in delivering services to Indians.
The prolonged Federal domination of service programs has retarded rather than enhanced local progress on the Reserve. Indians have been deprived of the full opportunity to develop leadership crucial to the growth of effective Band Government. Paternalism has served to deny Indians an effective voice in the planning and implementation of programs for the benefit of Indians.
Most programs for Indians are not run by Indians. This has resulted in programs being far less effective than they ought to be, and in an erosion of Indian initiative and morale.
Any government proposals to grant greater self-determination to Indians have been accompanied by proposals to terminate Indian rights and status. Indian self-determination must be encouraged without the threat of eventual termination.
Policies and programs must strengthen a Band's sense of autonomy without threatening the Reserve's sense of community. Indians must be able to assume control over programs and institutions without being separated from Indian rights and status.
Legislation must provide for Indians to become independent of Federal control without being cut off from the Federal support guaranteed by special rights, the British North America Act, Treaties and the Indian Act.
Where there are real and meaningful choices there is power, there is the ability to make responses and, finally, there follows a sense of responsibility.
Improved communication has resulted. on reserves as in other areas of Canada, in what can be termed as "equalization of needs". What was acceptable three years ago is totally inadequate today. The demands Indian people are making place a heavy burden on their leaders. Slipshod or second-rate services and physical comforts were tolerated in the past, but they are not any more. The Department of Indian Affairs is seen, and indeed behaves as, a gatekeeper of resources frustrating the efforts of Indian leaders to satisfy the needs and aspirations of their people.
Concurrently Indian leaders have to spend a lot of energy fighting off pressure from Canadian institutions, governments and individuals to change and "be like us".
While local autonomy is pre-requisite to solving the problems fostered by paternalism, Indians will not accept a form of local government patterned after a federal organization and its operations. Neither will we accept a form of local government patterned after the organization and operations of non-Indian provincial and municipal government.
We have long held, and have produced factual evidence to show, that the long-term policy of the Department of Indian Affairs is to terminate our Treaties, our special rights and our status.
The recent Local Government Guidelines demonstrate that the Federal Government is trying to create a situation on Reserves that can only be appeased by local taxation. Once taxation is established, the Government will bow out. There is nothing in those guidelines which would guarantee that we can become independent of exaggerated Federal control without being cut off from Federal financial responsibilities and from the rights and status guaranteed us by the British North America Act, our Treaties and the Indian Act.
The basic premises upon which such policies are based are wrong and misleading. Termination implies that the Federal Government has assumed special responsibilities for Indian people as an act of generosity toward a disadvantaged people. The position is that the Government can therefore discontinue this responsibility on a unilateral basis whenever it sees fit.
We have stated many times and we state again that our special rights and status do not rest on premises such as this. The special relationship between ourselves and the Federal Government is enshrined in the British North America Act, our Treaties and the Indian Act.
The special relationship continues to carry with it for all parties involved, immense moral and legal force. To terminate this relationship would be no more appropriate than to terminate the rights and jurisdictions of the Provinces of Canada.
Examples from the United States have shown that the results of termination have been clearly harmful in the few instances where termination actually has been tried. The removal of Federal responsibility, combined with the abolition of special rights and status has produced considerable disorientation among the Indians affected and has left them unable to relate to the myriad of Federal, State and local assistance efforts.
Indians have been consistent in their created confusion, indecision and apprehension through continuous oscillation of its position with regard to the Treaties.
While termination policies are most often defended on the basis of "reducing the burden of the taxpayer", they have invariably had the opposite effect. Economic and social conditions for Indian people have been worse after termination than before. The "burden on the taxpayer", to say nothing of the burden on Indian families, individuals and communities, has invariably multiplied. At the same time the logical vehicle to deal with Indian problems, the elected Indian leadership, has been dismantled, discredited and dispersed.
It is precisely this kind of condition which the current Local Government Guidelines are designed to create.
The very threat that Treaties and Indian rights might some day be ended has created a great deal of apprehension among Indian groups and communities. This apprehension, in turn, has blighting effect upon Band and Reserve progress. Any step that might result in greater social, economic or political autonomy is regarded with suspicion by many Indians. There is a fear that it will only bring us closer to the day when the Federal Government will disavow its lawful responsibilities to us.
In short, fear of one extreme policy termination - has often worked to produce the opposite extreme - excessive dependence on the Department of Indian Affairs. Both of these policy extremes are wrong. Termination errs in one direction while paternalism errs in the other.
2. If a Band is refused all or any part of a program for which it has applied, Indian Affairs must accord the Band a formal hearing at which a record will be made of the reasons for refusing the program and the Band will be guaranteed the right to appeal the decision and to have the appeal heard and ruled upon.
3. If a program is refused because of deficiencies which can be remedied, Indian Affairs are obligated to provide assistance to the extent practicable to enable the Band to overcome the objections.
4. Grant authority is provided to Indian Affairs to assist Bands in developing the capacity to take over programs, as well as for, but not limited to, the strengthening and improvement of Band Government, land acquisition and claims, planning, designing, monitoring, operating and evaluating Federal programs and personnel.
5. The Minister of Indian Affairs shall waive any existing laws and regulations which hinder the take-over of programs by Bands.
6. Agreements may exceed one year but must not be for more than five years. A Band's right to renegotiate a program for more than one year to take account of cost increases is specifically protected. This will make it possible to assure at least a measure of stability in the basic program arrangement while the program budget is subject to annual review and modification.
7. The amendment of budgets and programs by mutual consent is specifically authorized in order to make it possible to increase the funding in fixed-price programs and agreements.
8. The Band is guaranteed the right to turn a program back to the Department.
9. The Band will have the right to take over authority for the approval of applications for loans, grants and other kinds of Federal benefits.
10. An agreement or a Band-operated program will have a budget that is not less than the Department of Indian Affairs would have provided, including all hidden and indirect costs, for operation of the program or those portions thereof covered by the agreement or Band-operated program. Any savings must be used by the Band to provide additional services or benefits; they are not to be returned to Federal Treasury.
11. Nothing in any agreement or Band-operated program will jeopardize the status of Indians or Indian lands.
12. Funds for specific cost items and all "hidden costs" will be identified separately in each program.
13. Bands will be saved from all costs arising from a Band entering into enforceable agreements and other financial obligations as a result of a commitment by the Department of Indian Affairs to the Band to provide funds in specified amounts at specified times.
14. A system will be initiated whereby Band Councils are involved in formulating and evaluating proposed policy and program changes with the Band Councils retaining veto power.
15. Program and audit reviews will take into account the circumstances under Band administration is operated. The main objective of such reviews should be to provide positive direction for improvement.
16. Nothing in any agreement or Band-operated program shall be construed as: (a) affecting, modifying, diminishing, or otherwise impairing the immunity from suit of an Indian Band; (b) authorizing or requiring termination of any existing moral, lawful or historical obligation of Her Majesty to the Indian people.
17. Services will continue uninterrupted to Bands not operating programs.
18. Federal employees may be seconded, at the direction of the Band, to assist Bands in carrying out contracts or operating Federal programs.
19. Federal employees who become Band employees may elect, with the consent of the Band, to retain Federal Civil Service coverage, rights and benefits. This provision will make
20. Federal employees who are seconded by Bands will automatically retain Federal Civil Service salary, coverage, rights and benefits but will take direction from the Band as if they were Band employees.
21. All new staff responsible for programs in the Department of Indian Affairs will be recruited, selected, nominated and evaluated by the elected Indian leaders or their designates.
22. All current staff responsible for programs in the Department of Indian Affairs will be evaluated by the elected Indian leaders or their designates.
23. The Indian leaders will decide which specific positions or personnel they wish to recruit, select, nominate or evaluate.
24. Job descriptions, levels of authority and areas of responsibility for employees within the Department of Indian Affairs will be reviewed by the elected Indian leaders or their designates and necessary changes made.
25. The budgeting process will form part of the Indian Act administrative regulations and assure that the Band Council has approval/veto power from the point of budget initiation to the point of final Departmental approval.
26. New programs bring with them new funds and new man-years.
27. The budgeting process guarantees a Band that their budget will be included at the Treasury Board level.
28. Band Councils and Indian organizations will receive the funding they require, upon submission of the budget to the Treasury Board, to review immediately all the administrative, budget, education, social services, health, traffic, economic development, Treaty rights, hunting and fishing, status, and other regulations which will be included in additions to the Indian Act.