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FMA and Indigenous Institutions: Leveling the playing field for First Nations Governments

by pmnationtalk on June 21, 2019248 Views

FMA and Indigenous Institutions: Leveling the playing field for First Nations Governments

As Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Canada get ready to celebrate the 23rd National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st, we at the First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB) would like to take this opportunity to share with our readers the incredible journey many of our clients have undertaken to overcome the limitations of the Indian Act, an Act that has restricted them from meaningfully participating in the economy.

We begin with the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA) passed in 2006 leading to the creation of three First Nations Fiscal Institutions- FMB, FNFA (First Nation Finance Authority) and FNTC (First Nations Tax Commission). The purpose of these institutions was to create a mechanism to provide support and tools to First Nations to strengthen their communities and build the foundations for economic development.

In saying this, it would be good to take a step back and ask why this legislation was needed?

Here is the answer….

Under the Indian Act, First Nations people do not have legal title to their own land; instead legal title is held by the government. Because of this, First Nations people who currently live on reserve lands do not enjoy the same property rights as every other Canadian. On-reserve members are unable to earn equity on their home, use it as a collateral to borrow money, sell their land to whomever they choose or bequest their wealth to their children.

The FMA was fought for and led by First Nations to enable Nations to raise and leverage their revenues like other levels of the government. Therefore, if a community needs funding to implement their community development plans, build a school or address a community crisis, they would not have to wait for Minister of Indigenous Services Canada to step in.

An example of this is FMB’s client, Fisher River Cree Nation. This Cree Nation in Manitoba is located along the shores of Lake Winnipeg, about 200 km north of Winnipeg. The Nation’s two reserves are home to 1,900 – 3,700 members. In 2013, the Nation realized that they would immediately need funding for a new school as the current facility was overcrowded, in need of repairs and was not big enough to meet the growing needs of the community. The Nation embarked on their journey through the FMA process to secure the funds they urgently needed. By working with the FMB, the Nation not only developed financial policies and governance practices but also was able to become a borrowing member of the FNFA to obtain funding for a new school to house grade 7-12 students.

This is yet another example of us taking ownership of our future and carving our path forward”, said Chief David Crate on going through the FMA process and working with the FMB.

As of today, 274 First Nations have chosen to participate and have opted into the FMA. Through the pathway made available by the FMA, approximately 800 Million dollars have been financed on social and economic development projects among First Nations communities and roughly 6,000 jobs have been created from Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast.

The FMA is the first of its kind in the world and the most successful legislation to date that allows First Nations in Canada to access capital markets and interact like other levels of government, thereby leveling the playing field for First Nations governments.

The FMA does not abrogate or derogate treaty rights.

Today, many First Nations communities across Canada choose to exercise their inherent rights by raising revenues from their lands. They can use those revenues to secure financing through the FMA process for infrastructure and economic development initiatives on their lands.

First Nations are embracing the dream of self-determination and self-government and the Fiscal institutions- the FMB, the FNFA, and the FNTC are there at every turn to accompany the Nations that choose to embark on this journey by providing them with the tools they need to see that dream come true.

For more information on the Fiscal Institutions and to read client stories, please visit:

www.fnfmb.com
www.fnfa.ca
www.fntc.ca

Yogita Grover

First Nations Financial Management Board

 

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