Advancing Reconciliation: Canada Announces New Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation

Image Credit, Government of Canada

Canada has taken a significant step forward in its commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples by announcing the creation of a new oversight body, along with the appointment of a Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation. This landmark decision was unveiled during the second Intergovernmental Leaders’ Forum, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by Indigenous Modern Treaty Partners and Self-Governing Indigenous Governments.

The establishment of the Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation marks a pivotal moment in the Crown-Indigenous Modern Treaty relationship. With a dedicated focus on accountability, transparency, and trust, this initiative aims to ensure that the federal government upholds its obligations under Modern Treaties and strengthens the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships they embody.

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, emphasized the importance of honoring agreements with Indigenous Peoples, stating, “To honour our agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we need to ensure that trust, transparency, and accountability remain at the heart of our efforts to build renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships.”

The new Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation will play a crucial role in overseeing the implementation of Modern Treaties, holding the government accountable, and advancing key priorities outlined in these agreements. With a budget allocation of $10.6 million over four years, the Commissioner’s office is poised to provide independent and credible oversight, ensuring that Indigenous rights over lands, waters, and resources are respected.

According to the Hon. Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the creation of this role reflects Canada’s commitment to fulfilling its promises and delivering real results for Indigenous communities. He stated, “The creation of a new Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation as an Agent of Parliament will hopefully be a transformational shift toward a future where partners can be assured Canada will fulfill all of our treaty obligations, in the spirit of reconciliation.”

The proposed Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation will operate as an Agent of Parliament, ensuring independence, objectivity, and impartiality in overseeing Modern Treaty implementation. With expert knowledge of Modern Treaties, the Commissioner will have the authority to hold the government accountable to Parliament, seek timely and effective implementation of treaty provisions, and uphold the spirit and intent of the agreements.

The establishment of the Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation aligns with Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and advances the implementation of the UNDRIP Action Plan. Consultations with Indigenous Modern Treaty Partners will be integral to the legislative and appointment process, ensuring that the Commissioner holds the confidence of Indigenous communities.

In conclusion, today’s announcement represents a significant milestone in Canada’s journey towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. By prioritizing accountability, transparency, and trust, the creation of the Commissioner for Modern Treaty Implementation underscores Canada’s commitment to upholding the rights and responsibilities outlined in Modern Treaties, paving the way for a fairer and more equitable future for all Canadians.