Julie Ann Bertram
Special to the Tribune
On Saturday October 1st, the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement came into effect, giving the signatories including Nipissing First Nation more autonomy over key elements of their governance.
The historic milestone was celebrated by the Government of Canada and Anishinabek Nation at the latter’s head office in Nipissing First Nation. In attendance were Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Chief Lloyd Myke of Magnetawan First Nation, Gimaa Kwe Rhonda Williams-Lovett of Moose Deer Point First Nation, Chief Scott McLeod of Nipissing First Nation, Chief Larry Roque of Wahnapitae First Nation, Chief Irene Kells of Zhiibaahaasing First Nation, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
The agreement was nearly three decades in the making and was signed on April 6, 2022. It is the first self-government agreement of its kind in Ontario, marking a significant step forward for the Anishinabek First Nation, as the parts of the Indian Act concerning governance will no longer apply. The First Nations ratifying the Agreement will be removed from these four provisions of the Indian Act: Leadership Selection, Citizenship, Operation of Government, and Language and Culture. The new central governing body’s name is B’Maakonigan (loosely translated as “That which guides/supports/encourages”).
The agreement was approved by the citizens of each signatory First Nation through a community vote, followed by extensive community outreach and engagement with citizens during the negotiations. Chief Scott McLeod says it’s a milestone moment for Nipissing First Nation, “As our Nations strive to reassume our rightful jurisdictions over our own governance, the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement provides us with a tool to remove ourselves from sections of the Indian Act, freeing us to govern and protect our elections, language and culture, citizenship, and management and operations. This is a positive step towards self-government.”