INAC’s Resources to Support Governance

… an Atlas resource page in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Click for INAC website

Concept description

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (reference below, website on right) states that “it supports First Nation communities in the implementation of strong, effective and sustainable governments” because research “has shown that effective governance is the single greatest contributing factor to a community’s socio-economic progress and its overall well-being.”

This is an illustration of the federal government’s emphasis on governance described by Martin Papillon (reference below) in Governance vs. Self-Government.

INAC’s website says that:

“Good governance and institutions help First Nation communities to:

  • take greater control over the decisions that affect their lives;
  • carry out effective relationships with other governments;
  • take advantage of economic development opportunities;
  • improve programs and services; and,
  • enhance their social and economic well-being.

“Governance structures among First Nation communities are at different stages of maturity and development. Some First Nations have self-government agreements with Canada while others have minimal governance structures. Many First Nations fall somewhere in between.

“[INAC] engages in wide-ranging activities to help support communities in their transition to stronger, more effective governance systems, including:

  • Negotiating and implementing self-government and land claim agreements.
  • Providing funding to Band offices and Tribal Councils for core operations, such as office space, salaries and benefits, as well as for advisory services and professional and institutional development.
  • Amending relevant laws and regulations to help support First Nation institutions, organizations and governments.
  • Building cooperative relationships with First Nation governments through the use of modern and historic treaties.

“In addition to these activities, [INAC] also supports the governance capacity of First Nations through tools and resources for governance.

[INAC] supports the development of First Nations institutions and governance capacity, while respecting Canada’s constitutional and statutory obligations concerning First Nations. The Department oversees the implementation and administration of governance processes under the Indian Act, while at the same time reviewing these processes to respond to new challenges and court decisions such as the landmark Corbiere decision, which extended voting rights to all Band members regardless of residency.”

INAC’s tools and resources for governance

The INAC Governance page includes a link to a page (see Indian Government Support Programs at, which has links to tools and resources under four headings (INAC links included):

  • The Governance Capacity Planning Tool can help a community design a plan based on its priorities, specifically in the area of governance. The tool helps a community recognize its strengths in governance, identify areas for further improvement, and design projects that support its long-term goals.
  • Governance tools for communities include self-assessment tools which can be used to set priorities for organizational capacity development, guidebooks, and examples of policies used in First Nations communities.
  • Governance tools for institutions are useful for larger organizations, such as First Nations institutions and crown corporations. Many of these resources are based on models of governance used in the Canadian federal government.
  • Governance reference documents are created by many organizations, such as AFOA Canada, and are made available through their websites. These documents are useful for strengthening core governance.


Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Governance, at, accessed 1 October 2016.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Indian Government Support Programs at,  accessed 1 October 2016.

Martin Papillon (2014), The Rise and Fall of Aboriginal Self-Government, in Canadian Politics, 6th ed., eds. James Bickerton and Alain-G. Gagnon, pp. 113-131. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Topic, subject and Atlas course

Indigenous Governance in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 1 October 2016.

Image: BC Ferries, West Coast Ferries Forum, at, accessed 1 October 2016.