To characterize the progress is to underline the work that communities are doing and how ready they were for someone to open the door. A lot of them had already been reconstituting their nations, working on their constitutions, writing their laws, doing all these things, and now it's up to us to step up and try to keep pace with them, with their ambition. That's what has been so exciting, as more and more communities are choosing to come together and do the hard work it takes to get to self-determination.
One of the exciting examples of the type of work that has been done is in the groups that are already self-governing and have modern treaties. The work they've done on the collaborative fiscal arrangement has been a real incentive for others to see how this could be hugely important for their community, to get this work done so that they can be self-governing, because they will be funded properly in terms of language and culture and all the things it takes for them to run a government, as opposed to being funded in a haphazard way, with never quite enough, and in the way that people were treated under the Indian Act.
On both of those things, Joe Wild's approach didn't start with the Prime Minister's speech. This has been going on really since 2015. It's a new way. As you know, in B.C., people weren't really happy with the treaty process. Some had left the treaty process because they thought it was too prescriptive. We've offered another way of going about getting to a final agreement. That means that we sit down with them and work on their needs, interests and priorities.
Over a third of them have put child and family services as one of their priorities. Here in Ontario, 23 nations have worked together on a school system. The Coastal First Nations are working on a fishery. We are being flexible to allow them to work in whatever way they want to get out from the under the Indian Act and assert their jurisdiction on the areas of their priority. That's why people are coming to tables to just say, “This is what we want to work on with you”. Then our job is to get out of the way so they can actually govern themselves in that jurisdiction.
Others will want to move to a full modern treaty, and a lot of those, particularly in British Columbia, are doing that. However, even in that treaty process, I was very excited to see that there are all these prescribed stages. Two of the communities have decide that it was too prescriptive for them and they want to step aside and do it differently. They're going for a core treaty in very plain language so that seven generations out will understand what they signed, and the legal stuff will be in side agreements. Again, it's really exciting to learn at each of these tables and then watch some of the other tables pick up the good idea and say, “We could do it this way.”
The other piece that's important is that these communities and the leadership, chief and council, have to have their communities with them. They have to actually have it ratified by their community. Bringing their communities with them and the type of consultation they are doing is inspiring.
I was just thinking as I was coming here—