RATIFICATION OF THE PROPOSED ANISHINABEK NATION EDUCATION AGREEMENT
The negotiations of the Anishinabek Education Agreement is now complete as is the Ratification process.
Ratification is one of the most important steps in the process of Canada recognizing the Anishinabek Nation member First Nations’ jurisdiction over education.
The Anishinabek Nation and Canada negotiated a ratification process for the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (ANEA). Canada has agreed to pay for the costs of ratification.
Thirty-nine (39) member First Nations in the Anishinabek Territory are eligible to ratify the Education Agreement. The Anishinabek Territory stretches throughout the province of Ontario from Ottawa in the east, to Sarnia in the south, and to Lake Nipigon and Thunder Bay in the north.
There were approximately 37,000 eligible voters that participated in the ratification of the Education Agreement.
To ensure that each eligible voter was provided with the opportunity to vote, a ratification communications campaign included the following objectives:
- Building First Nation leadership and eligible voter awareness and knowledge of the education agreement and the proposed Anishinabek Education System;
- Building awareness of the voting opportunities and process;
- Conducting the ratification vote;
- Compiling, communicating and analyzing the ratification vote results;
- Consultation on the Federal Enabling Legislation/Supporting Passage of Legislation.
Ratification Communications Campaign
A Ratification Communication Campaign started from November 2015 to November 2016 to secure informed voter consent.
Informed voter consent requires that each eligible voter is provided with sufficient information on the education agreement so he or she can understand the negotiated arrangements and the implications of approving those arrangements.
- Preliminary activities began in November 2015 with the launch of a Ratification Communications Campaign.
- In January 2016, the Ratification Communications Campaign began with a number of Regional and First Nation Community meetings to build eligible voter awareness and knowledge of the Education Agreement and the proposed Anishinabek Education System.
Everyone has been encouraged to understand the Proposed Education Agreement by reading available information. To become knowledgeable, members will need to raise issues, ask questions, and discuss the issues with family, friends, elders, leaders, and eligible voters.
Every Eligible Voter:
- is an important step in the process of recognizing the Anishinabek Nation member First Nations’ jurisdiction over education;
- has an independent right to cast their ballot;
- regardless if they live on-reserve or off-reserve;
- is over the age of 18 years old can vote either in person or by mail;
- can receive information on the Proposed Anishinabek Education Agreement;
- has a duty to find out what the Proposed Education Agreement is all about;
- has the right to make their own decision; and
- should know that every vote counts.
Overseeing the Ratification Vote
The Ratification Committee oversaw the ratification vote process together with the Ratification Vote Manager and Deputy Ratification Vote Manager. In September 2015, the Ratification Committee was established, and was comprised of four (3) individuals appointed by the Union of Ontario Indians and Canada:
- Union of Ontario Indians – Rhonda Couchie and Fred Bellefeuille
- Canada – Martin Larose
- The Committee is responsible for the implementation and conduct of the Ratification Process and Ratification Vote.
The Ratification Vote Manager and Deputy Ratification Vote Manger were hired to supervise and provide direction to First Nation Ratification Vote Officers and Urban Centre Ratification Vote Officers.
- 1 week voting period November 28, 2016 to December 2, 2016
- First 2 days off-reserve polling stations at Urban Centres
- 3 days on-reserve polling stations
- Polling stations opened from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Mail-in ballot is an option for those who cannot attend a polling stations
The Voting Process
- It is up to First Nation members to say “yes” or “no” to the agreement.
- Members will get plain language summary information and copies of all the agreements.
- Community outreach ramped in 2016 and was done through community meetings, home visits, advertising, open houses, mail outs, web and social media, etc.
- After a year-long ratification process, the vote took place starting November 28, 2016 and ended December 2, 2016.
- In order for the agreement to be approved at the First Nation level, a minimum of 25% (plus 1) of eligible voters had to vote “yes” and those who voted “yes” must represent a majority of voters.
- At least 12 First Nation’s needed to approve the agreements for ratification requirements to be met. This was met in the Ratification Vote.
- The Voters list was based on the First Nation’s membership lists.
- Both on-reserve and off-reserve members could vote as per their first nation voting guidelines.
- All members age 18 and over on voting Day were eligible to exercise their right to cast a vote.
- A Ratification Committee (with members from Anishinabek Nation and Canada) oversaw the ratification process. This Committee is responsible for ensuring the integrity and proper conduct of the vote.