First Nations Self-Government
17 Roadblocks to Self-Determination, and One Chief’s Thoughts on Solutions


First Nations Self-Government

Indigenous Peoples in Canada are continuing to assert their right to self-determination in this era of reconciliation. While dozens of Indigenous communities have signed varying forms of self-government agreements with the federal government, Indigenous Nations still face many obstacles along the path to true self-determination.

As a former Chief of Siksika Nation in southern Alberta, Leroy Wolf Collar dealt with many of the same problems other Indigenous Nations face across the country. From serious housing shortages to the lack of opportunities for youth, Chief Wolf Collar experienced the challenges and frustrations that come from operating in a colonial system still constrained by the Indian Act.

How do Indigenous Peoples move on from this defective system? Chief Wolf Collar identifies 17 issues that currently hinder Indigenous Nations—including broken treaty promises, problems with common forms of band administration, and the intrusion of provincial governments—along with potential solutions to overcome them.

This guide is for current and aspiring Indigenous leaders who want to increase their understanding of good governance, management, and leadership, as well as those who want to explore issues around Indigenous self-determination in Canada.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
First Nations Self-Government 1
Acknowledgements 5
Foreword 6
Preface 8
Introduction 9
Critical Terminology 12
Roadblock 1 First Nations Governing Institutions 15
Roadblock 2 The Crown Ignores Treaty Promises 28
Roadblock 3 Control over First Nations Citizenship 37
Roadblock 4 Provincial Government Involvement 52
Roadblock 5 First Nations Portfolio System 58
Roadblock 6 Lawless First Nations Communities 69
Roadblock 7 Leadership Competencies 76
Roadblock 8 The Functions of the Band Administration 82
Roadblock 9 Dependency on the Canadian Government 88
Roadblock 10 Per Capita Distributions 97
Roadblock 11 High Unemployment 101
Roadblock 12 A Lack of Strategic Planning 108
Roadblock 13 No Plan for Youth 113
Roadblock 14 On Reserve Housing 117
Roadblock 15 Intergenerational Impacts of Indian Residential Schools 131
Roadblock 16 Constitutionally Limited Calls to Action 138
Roadblock 17 Diverse Political Needs Overlapping Political Organizations 146
Final Thoughts 151
Notes 156
About the Author 161