First Nation Constitutions are a requirement of the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement.
Why do we need to approve a constitution?
The Anishinabek Nation Chiefs in Assembly passed a Grand Council Resolution that says each First Nation should have its own constitution. This is also written into the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement. If a First Nation is going to make education laws, it needs a law-making process that is approved by the First Nation. The law-making process is in the constitution. All this to say that, each First Nation needs a constitution to be part of the Education Agreement. Your First Nation does not have a constitution right now, so you are voting on it now.
It seems like the need for a constitution has just come out of the blue. Why are we rushing to get a constitution?
The First Nation constitution development work started with all the Anishinabek First Nations over 12 years ago. The Grand Council Resolution confirming the need for a constitution was passed in 2012. Nipissing First Nation was the first to approve their constitution in January of 2012. Some First Nations are just taking more time to finish their constitution than others.
Why does the ballot cover approval of the Education Agreement and the Constitution?
The Education Agreement needs to be approved by the First Nation members before it can be put into effect. Part 4 of the Agreement says each First Nation will maintain a constitution. Because the two are part of one approval, the ballot deals with both topics. If the ballot question is split into two questions, your First Nation might end up in a situation where the Agreement is approved and not the constitution. Then your First Nation cannot be part of the Anishinabek Education Agreement. Approval of both the Education Agreement and the Constitution is approval of the members to be part of the Anishinabek Education System.
Strategy Moving Forward
Assist First Nations who have submitted a Band Council Resolution (BCR) in support of the Education Agreement with:
- developing constitution ready drafts through workshops and one-on-assistance; and
- assist in finalizing their constitution to be ready for the November 2016 Vote.
Ratified Constitutions to Date:
- Aamjiwnaang First Nation
- Atikameksheng Anishnawbek
- Biigtigong Nishnaabeg
- Mississauga #8 First Nation
- Nipissing First Nation
- Pic Mobert First Nation
- Sheshegwaning First Nation
- Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve
POINTS TO REMEMBER
There are many good reasons to develop a First Nation Constitution.
The Constitution of the People:
- is like a rule book which describes how the community will be governed;
- is a law of the People and accountability is to the People;
- establishes the values and principles that guide the First Nation
- protects the rights and freedoms of the First Nation citizens/members; and
- is a building block to sustained economic development and self-sufficiency;
- is the foundation on which all the future laws of the community will be based.