Climate change necessitates an urgent and structured response. Indigenous Peoples and their way of life, traditions, customs, healthy relationships with the lands, and protection of the next generation place them at the heart of efforts to address the impacts of climate change. While Indigenous Peoples are diverse in their knowledge and language systems, a common sense of history and experience binds them. Their ceremonies, stories, songs, oral traditions, natural and customary laws, governance, inherited knowledge and wisdom provide the foundation for collaboration and partnership with the Government of Canada.
The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change is Canada’s plan to grow the economy while reducing emissions and building resilience to adapt to a changing climate. It is consistent with the commitment to the Paris Agreement, in which the parties agreed that they should, when taking action to address climate change, recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples. All decision-making processes and activities related to climate change will recognize, respect, and safeguard the inherent and Treaty rights of Indigenous Peoples, affirmed in Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada.
The Government of Canada has also committed to a renewed, nation-to-nation, Inuit-to-Crown relationship, and government-to-government relationship, with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation based on recognition of rights, respect, trust, co-operation and partnership, including through Treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. It has also supported without qualification the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including free, prior and informed consent.
Therefore, in taking action on climate change and in moving forward on the implementation of the Framework, a structured, collaborative approach for meaningful engagement will be pursued between the Government of Canada and the representatives of Indigenous Peoples and governments. This will ensure that Indigenous Peoples are full and effective partners in advancing clean growth and addressing climate change goals to mitigate and reduce emissions as a necessary pre-cursor to the mitigation of climate impacts on Indigenous Peoples.
Nothing in this document shall be interpreted to replace or alleviate the Crown from its obligations to engage Indigenous Peoples at a local, regional and national level on issues related to climate change.
Respecting and recognizing a distinction-based approach to the implementation of the Framework and broader climate change priorities, three distinct and separate senior-level tables will be established with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation. These tables will:
- Jointly develop real and meaningful approaches for Indigenous Peoples that position them as leaders of climate action, with clear timelines, objectives, and reporting in support of the Framework and other climate change activities;
- Ensure inclusive, meaningful and adequately resourced Indigenous engagement that emphasizes collaborative planning and participation in decision making;
- Advise on and track progress on the implementation of relevant acts, regulations, policies and programs, such as advancing clean energy solutions for Indigenous Peoples;
- Share information, jointly identify and monitor levers, indicators, and results, contributing to transparent reporting on the implementation of the Framework; and
- Provide local and regional views, perspectives and proposals on the implementation of the Framework to federal, provincial and territorial intergovernmental structures.
Proposed Governance Structure
The exact configuration of each table will be determined in partnership with the national representatives of Indigenous Peoples (i.e. First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation). The three senior-level tables will include representatives from:
- The Government of Canada;
- Assembly of First Nations (AFN) or Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami or Métis National Council; and,
- Regional and local Indigenous organizations and representatives of self-governing Nations, identified with the input of their regional executive bodies (e.g. AFN Executive, Inuit Land Claim Organizations, Métis National Council and its Governing Members).
Each table will be co-chaired by an Indigenous representative and a senior federal representative. Representatives will commit to work together in a collaborative manner to identify meaningful outcomes, and pursue shared goals and commitments. Each table will develop terms of reference and annual work plans for their operation, and will have the ability to form technical working groups that will report to the table as required. Representatives at each table agree to share relevant information and jointly produce proposals, options, and recommendations.
Each table will recognize and reflect the diverse and evolving relationships between Indigenous communities, organizations and governments with the Crown in their implementation.
Each table will be convened for a first meeting in early 2017, and will meet at least twice a year.