OPEN LETTER and Joint Submission on Bill C-58, An Act to Amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to Make Consequential Amendments to Other Acts from the National Claims Research Directors

Dear Members of the Standing Committee,

Please accept this submission and attachments by the National Claims Research Directors pertaining to your review of Bill C-58, amendments to reform Canada’s Access to Information Act. Our submission outlines our grave concerns about the content of Bill C-58 and provides reasons why we strongly oppose the bill as currently drafted.

The National Claims Research Directors is a national body of technicians who manage over thirty centralized Claims Research Units, representing over 400 First Nations. Much of our work is focussed on the development of claims against the Government of Canada related to its breach of lawful obligations against First Nations, pursuant to the federal Specific Claims Policy and the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, as well as on other disputes related to Treaties and Aboriginal title and rights. We work closely with First Nations communities, legal counsel, funding administrators, Canada’s Specific Claims Branch of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC), claims negotiators, and the Specific Claims Tribunal. In our work, we must routinely access information from federal government departments and agencies.

Bill C-58 has been developed unilaterally, without any effort to consult First Nations, contrary to Canada’s commitment to a Nation-to-Nation relationship and to working in equal partnership with First Nations. Bill C-58 and the unilateral process through which it has been developed clearly violates several of the Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples announced by Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould in July 2017, and contravenes the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations.

Bill C-58 will greatly impair the ability of First Nations to document their claims, grievances, and disputes with the Government of Canada and will significantly impede First Nations’ access to justice in resolving their claims. The Bill will obstruct efforts by Canada to meet the standards of redress for historical wrongs articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as it significantly undermines First Nations’ existing rights of access to information.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) recently conducted an audit of Canada’s specific claims process. The OAG’s report, released in November 2016, concluded that Canada’s department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs introduced numerous barriers that hindered the resolution of claims, including by restricting information.

Yet if passed into law, Bill C-58 will impose substantive new barriers to the resolution of First Nations’ claims. It will also provide legislative authority for the suppression of evidence which First Nations require to pursue their claims against Canada. Revisions to the Act will enshrine into legislation overly prescriptive and inappropriate requirements for applicants seeking records, as well as providing legislative grounds for government bodies to deny access to records vital to First Nations.

In keeping with Canada’s commitment to reconciliation, the UNDRIP, and access to justice for First Nations, we call on the committee to withdraw Bill C-58 and engage in full and meaningful consultation with First Nations regarding legislative reforms to access to information. We also fully endorse the recommendations to improve Bill C-58 made by the Information Commissioner of Canada in her September 2017 report.

Please direct questions or comments to Jody Woods, Research Director, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, via email jwoods@ubcic.bc.ca or phone 604-684-0231.

CONTRIBUTORS AND SIGNATORIES

First Nations and Tribal Councils
Adams Lake Indian Band - Chief Paul Michel, Councilor Ronnie Jules, Councilor Gina Johnnie
?aqam First Nation - Chief Joe Pierre, Councilor Brandy Jules, Councilor Norma Manuel, Gary Witzky,
Aitchelitz First Nation - Chief Angie Bailey
Algonquins of Barriere Lake - Chief Casey Ratt,
Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation - Chief C. Roy Petit
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council - Tribal Chief Terry Teegee
Cheam First Nation - Chief Ernie Crey
Coldwater Indian Band - Chief Lee Spahan
Cooks Ferry Band - Chief David Walkem
Cowichan Tribes - Chief William C. Seymour
Deh Gah Gotie First Nation - Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge
Dzawada’enuxw First Nation - Chief Willie Moon
Esk’etemc First Nation - Chief Charlene Belleau
Fort Nelson First Nation - Chief Harrison Dickie
Gingolx Village Government - Chief George R. Moore
Gitanmaax Frist Nation - Deputy Chief Councillor Veronica Green
Gitanyow Band - Chief Tony Morgan
Gitwinksihlkw Village Government - Chief Charles Morven
Gitxaala First Nation - Chief Clifford White
Gitxsan Chiefs Office, Director Cliff Sampare Sr.
Glen Vowel Indian Band - Chief Robert Sampson
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) - Bill Namagoose, Executive Director
Halfway River First Nation - Chief Darlene Hunter
Heiltsuk First Nation - Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett
High Bar First Nation - Chief Larry Fletcher, Councilors Yvonne Smith, Derek Fletcher, Justin Kuzyk
Kanaka Bar Band - Chief Patrick Mitchell
Kebaowek First Nation - Councillor David McLaren for Chief Lance Haymond
Katzie First Nation - Chief Susan Miller
Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation - Chief Bob Chamberlin
Kluane First Nation - Nichole Williams, Governance Analyst
Lake Babine Nation - Chief Wilf Adam
Laxgalt'sap Village Government - Chief Henry Moore
Lyackson First Nation - Hereditary Chief Richard Thomas
Lytton First Nation - Chief Janet Webster
Metlakatla First Nation - Councillor Alrita Leask (for Chief Harold Leighton)
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne - Grand Chief Abram Benedict and Kawehnoke District Chief Troy Thompson
Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation - Chief Jerome Jack
Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation - Chief Alexander McKinnon
New Aiyansh Village Government - Chief Keith Tait
Neskonlith Indian Band - Kukpi7 Judy Wilson
Nicomen Indian Band - Chief Donna Aljam
Nisga’a Lisims Government - Executive Chairperson Brain Tait and President Eva Clayton
Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council – Chair Grand Chief Bob Pasco
Okanagan Nation Alliance - Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director
Okanagan Indian Band - Chief Byron Louis
Osoyoos Indian Band - Councillor Tony Baptiste
Simpcw First Nation - Chief Nathan Matthew
Six Nations of the Grand River Territory - Elected Council Chief G. Ava Hill
Skuppuh Indian Band - Chief Doug McIntyre
Songhees First Nation - Chief Ron Sam
Sq'éwlets First Nation - Chief Andy Phillips
Stellat’en First Nation - Chief Archie Patrick
Sumas First Nation - Chief Dalton Silver
Timiskaming First Nation - Chief Wayne McKenzie
Toosey First Nation - Chief Francis Laceese
Tseshaht First Nation - Chief Councillor Cynthia Dick
Tsuu T'ina Nation - Chief Sidney Crow Child
Tzeachten First Nation - Councillor Loren Muth
Upper Nicola Indian Band - Chief Harvey McLeod
Wet’suwet’en First Nation - Chief Vivian Tom
We Was Kai Nation - Chief Brian Assu
Williams Lake Indian Band - Chief Anne Louie
Wolf Lake First Nation - Chief Harry St Denis
Yakweakwioose First Nation - Chief Terry Horne

Indigenous Representative Organizations
Assembly of First Nations - National Chief Perry Bellegarde
BC Assembly of First Nations - Endorsed by Resolution
Anishinabek Nation - Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee
First Nations Summit - Grand Chief Edward John, Cheryl Casimer, Robert Phillips
Union of BC Indian Chiefs - Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Members of Parliament
NDP Critic for Ethics, Democratic Reform, and Deputy Critic for Finance - Nathan Cullen, MP
NDP Critic for Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Romeo Saganash, MP

Research Directors/Claims Research Units
Algonquin Nation Secretariat - Peter Di Gangi, Director, Policy & Research
Alliance of Tribal Nations - Grand Chief Clarence Pennier
Anishinabek Nation - Alicia McLeod, Treaty Research Coordinator
Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq - Tim Bernard, Director, History & Culture
Conseil Tribal Mamuitun - Research Director Denis Brassard
Cowichan Tribes - Dianne Hinkley, Research Director
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations - Jayme Benson, Research Director
Grand Council Treaty No. 3 T.A.R.R. - Andy Sky, Research Director
Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council - Peter Havlik, T.A.R.R. Research Director
Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. - Tammy MacDonald, Research Director
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne - Dwight Bero Jr., Researcher, Aboriginal Rights and Research Office
Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke - Rose-Ann Morris, Office of the Council of Chiefs Project Coordinator
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation - Luke Hunter, Research Director
Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council - Debbie Abbott, Executive Director
Six Nations Council - Lonny Bomberry, Director, Lands and Resources Department
Specific Claims Research Centre - Mona Donovan, Research Coordinator
T.A.R.R. Centre of Manitoba, Inc - Cam Stewart and Patricia Myran, Directors
T.A.R.R. Centre of NS, Inc. - Jim Micheal, Research Director
Stoney Nation - Ken Christensen, Acting Tribal Administrator
Treaty 8 Tribal Association - Diane Calliou, T.A.R.R. Director
Tsuu T'ina Nation CRU - Jim Big Plume, Research Director
Union of BC Indian Chiefs Specific Claims Research Program - Jody Woods, Director

Like Minded Organizations
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) - Duncan Pike Co-Director,
Reconciliation Canada - Chief Robert Joseph
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) - Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Specific Claims Working Group ¬- Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chair
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Seth Klein, Director, BC Office
Indigenous Bar Association – Scott Robertson, Vice President

Like Minded Individuals
Dr. Gwendolyn Point, Elders Representative - BC Assembly of First Nations
Benoît Amyot Cain Lamarre Advocats et Notaries
Cindy Blackstock, Professor, McGill University School of Social Work
Dr. Keith Carlson, Professor of History, Research Chair in Indigenous & Community-engaged History University of Saskatchewan
Dr. David Shanahan, Historian Anishinabek Nation
Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
Dr. Gwendolyn Point, BC Assembly of First Nations
Ellen Gabriel, Activist
The Honourable Stephen O’Neill, Ontario Superior Court of Justice (retired)
Kevin Walby, Associate Professor and Chancellor’s Research Chair, University of Winnipeg
Department of Criminal Justice
Laurie Leclair, Principal - Leclair Historical Research, Toronto
Léonie Boutin, Cain Lamarre Advocats et Notaries
Mike Larsen, Faculty and Co-Chair, Criminology Department, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

ATTACHMENTS 

Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.