printable versionPrint this page

Inherent Right of Self-Government Policy 1995

Category: Policy/Strategy
Sub Category:Policy/Strategy
Alternative Names:
  • 1995 Inherent Right Policy
  • Aboriginal Self-Government: Federal Policy Guide
  • Subject Matter:Self Government
    Summary Information:
    Pursuant to the federal Government of Canada's Inherent Right of Self-Government Policy (the Policy), self-government arrangements for First Nations may be negotiated as a part of comprehensive land claims agreements. As such, the Canadian Government agrees to constitutionally protect particular aspects of self-government agreements as treaty rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Self-government is recognised as a fundamental right of Aboriginal peoples. The Policy was developed subsequent to a comprehensive consultation process with both Aboriginal representatives and provincial and territorial governments. The objective of the Policy is to ensure that Aboriginal people have greater control over their lives, and at the same time recognises that the most just and practical mechanism for achieving this is through negotiated settlements.
    Detailed Information:
    Part 1 of the Policy sets out the policy framework for self-government. It provides that the inherent right of self-government is a section 35 right within the Canadian Constitutional Framework. It asserts the federal government's commitment that all governments of Canada, including Aboriginal governments and institutions, should be bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also recognises the difference in circumstances of Aboriginal peoples across Canada and acknowledges that the implementation of the inherent right policy will not be uniform across the country. The Policy recognises that existing treaties are 'fundamental to the special relationship between Treaty First Nations and the Crown.' Existing treaties will not be re-opened, changed or displaced as a result of the Policy. Similarly, existing land claims agreements will continue to operate according to their terms. Self-government agreements may be negotiated with those groups who have settled their land claims but do not have self-government arrangements in place. Part 1 also sets arrangements regarding application of laws, transition, accountability, implementation plans and financial obligations. It states that the Crown has a 'unique, historic, fiduciary relationship with Aboriginal peoples in Canada.' The Policy does not signal an end to this relationship, however it may alter its nature, particularly as Aboriginal governments and institutions assume and exercise responsibility over decision-making in areas which effect their communities.

    Part 2 of the Policy deals with the various approaches to self-government between First Nations. Part 3 sets out the process issues of implementation including the mandate for negotiations with the federal government, representation and approval of negotiated agreements.

    Related Entries

  • Negotiation Framework Agreement on the Amalgamation of Certain Institutions and the Creation of a New Form of Government in Nunavik 2003
  • Westbank First Nation Self-Government Agreement 2003
  • Political Accord to Establish a Nunavik Commission for Self-Government 1999
  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation Self-Government Agreement
  • Anishnaabe Government Agreement
  • Ta'an Kwach'an Council Self-Government Agreement
  • Tr'ondek Hwech'in Self-Government Agreement
  • Organisation
  • Government of Canada
  • Legislation
  • Constitution Act 1982
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982
  • People
  • Inuit of Canada
  • Policy/Strategy
  • Comprehensive Land Claims Policy 1973
  • Community-Based Self-Government Policy 1990
  • Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan 1998
  • In All Fairness: A Native Claims Policy 1981

  • References

    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1995) Federal Policy Guide: Aboriginal Self-Government
    Government of Canada - Department of Justice (1982) Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (1998) Gathering Strength: Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (2003) Backgrounder: Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (2003) Overview
    Department of Justice Canada (2003) Specific Claims Resolution Act [Not in force] (2003, c. 23 )


    Policy/Strategy | Indian Claims Commission (Canada)

    Top of page

    Was this useful? Click here to fill in the ATNS survey