Evidence of meeting #4 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was tribunal.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Anik Dupont  Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Kevin McNeil  Senior Counsel, Specific Claims Section, Department of Justice
Kathy Green  Director, Research and Policy Directorate, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes, that's correct.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

—at a press conference, and of course the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and representatives were in attendance at the event, showing their support and agreeing with that process.

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes, that's correct.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

As you indicated, there was a broad information campaign.

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

And this indicated that there was also a letter sent to each of the first nations.

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

What kinds of responses did you get, or did you get responses, from those letters that you sent to first nations?

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

No, not necessarily. There were letters that basically informed the first nations about the coming into force of the act and also indicated to them that, in accordance with the act, their claim had been filed with the minister as of October 16.

So because we had all these claims and assessments and all these claims and negotiations, we had to activate the provisions of the act. That's why the first nations received a letter stating that their claims had been deemed to be filed in accordance with the act on October 16, 2008.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

So in terms of the information campaign, obviously, the Government of Canada, the first nations, and a broader stakeholder, Canadians in total...were they advised in this process as well?

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes, we had general mail-outs that were made to a variety of groups.

Also, the department has an entire section of the website that is devoted to the specific claims process, where we post and communicate a lot of the information that is available. There's also a reporting centre that is available on the website where anyone, the public and first nations, can go in and seek information with regard to specific claims and produce reports of the information we have.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

I just want to make sure I have this right. In the fall of 2008, Canada notified all first nations with specific claims in the federal system about the act coming into force and their individual claims?

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes, that's correct.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

How much time do I have?

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

You have one minute.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

One minute.

In your briefing I noted there were times where it took up to 13 years in this process. My recollection is that at the time, Minister Prentice, I believe, indicated that this was not satisfactory and that we needed to make improvements to this whole process to settle these claims, because 13 years is just not acceptable. Is that correct?

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes, that's correct.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

All right. Thank you.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Bennett had to step out for a bit, so we're going to go to the next questioner on the list, and that's Mr. Wilks, for seven minutes.

October 4th, 2011 / 11:30 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you for coming today. It's nice to see you here.

I specifically just want to talk about the offer, and arguably it's probably one of the more important parts of the negotiation. But in terms of the offer, do first nations agree to negotiate with Canada? And are first nations consulted before a settlement offer is made?

11:30 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

When the minister accepts the claim for negotiations, a letter is sent to the first nation, which explains what is the basis on which we agreed to negotiate. Following this, the first nation has to confirm its agreement with a band council resolution to the department stating that it agrees with the terms of the letter and that it wishes to commence negotiations.

Sometimes through studies or other work that we look at, we value what the claim is, what the components of the claim are. So either the studies or the work at the table are done—sometimes jointly, sometimes by the first nation—to inform and develop what we believe is the value of the claim. That work is all done jointly with the first nation.

Then once the negotiators have an idea of what the value of the claim is, the negotiator has to seek a mandate to be able to present the first nation with an offer.

So the first nations have a general idea of where we're going and what we're going to be looking at by way of compensation. The negotiator comes in, develops the mandate, seeks approval for it, and then goes back to the first nation and presents a written offer to the first nation explaining how we arrived at this offer.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

To clarify, the joint research and discussions take place with both parties?

11:35 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Yes. Sometimes the first nation may wish to do their own research, and sometimes we do it jointly. It's all worked out. Each and every table is different, for a variety of different reasons.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you.

Does the negotiation process end once the offer is tabled?

11:35 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Not necessarily. Once the offer is tabled, the first nation has to respond as to whether it will be accepting the offer or putting it to their members for a ratification vote.

There's still work to be done once that is done. We have to be looking at developing the settlement agreement. In certain cases, where the first nation may decide they want to be looking at land, there's work to be done to identify land selection areas. So that work still needs to be done. And there's also the whole side for the first nations to develop the trust where the funds will be transferred once the settlement is obtained.

There's work that continues while the negotiators are seeking their mandate after the offer has been presented.