Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada Departmental Plan

Plans at a glance

CIRNAC Departmental Plan

In 2020-21, CIRNAC will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities so that they are better positioned to govern their own affairs, as well as promote the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of residents and communities in the North. 

This work is always conducted in balance with the broader national interest and in partnership with other government departments to achieve a coherent whole-of-government approach to the Crown-Indigenous relationship. 

The department works with other federal departments, provinces, territories, industry sectors and other Canadians to shape the Government of Canada’s agenda in a manner that best supports the needs and expectations of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples in Canada. 

CIRNAC, Indigenous peoples and Northerners will work together to achieve progress in the following priorities:

  • accelerating the renewal of the relationship with Indigenous peoples
  • modernizing institutional structures and governance to support self-determination
  • advancing work in the North

Accelerating the Renewal of the Relationship with Indigenous Peoples

CIRNAC will continue discussions to co-develop modern treaties, self-government agreements and other constructive arrangements, and to explore new ways of working with Indigenous communities. In addition, CIRNAC will continue to work with First Nations, in collaboration with the Joint Technical Working Group, on process, policy and legislative reforms to the specific claims process. This work will include exploring options on enhancing the independence of the process.

CIRNAC will continue advancing the implementation of the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia. The department will support and enable approaches to the negotiation of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements between Canada, British Columbia and participating Indigenous Nations in British Columbia. 

CIRNAC will continue work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice, in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.

In 2020-21, CIRNAC will support the work of the Department of Justice to introduce co-developed legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This legislation will fully respect the intent of the UNDRIP and will chart a path to reconciliation.

CIRNAC will support resolution and implementation of claims (including specific claims, litigation claims, childhood claims and Independent Assessment Process claims under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement) through a range of activities such as community engagement, addition of lands to reserves and negotiated settlement agreements.

In 2020-21, the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS) will embark on its last year of activities by completing the remaining Independent Assessment Process claims as per the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. It is anticipated that all claims will be completed by March 31, 2021.

CIRNAC continues to support the implementation of Calls to Action. The department remains committed to engaging and collaborating with Indigenous communities and organizations, provincial and territorial governments, knowledge keepers, survivors of Indian Residential Schools and their families to ensure the proper documenting of the children who died or went missing, as well as maintaining, commemorating and protecting residential school cemeteries.

Modernizing Institutional Structures and Governance to Support Self-Determination

CIRNAC will continue to move forward together with Indigenous partners to ensure that Indigenous peoples are in control of their own destiny and making decisions about their communities. To this end, CIRNAC will continue to work with representatives of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the M?tis National Council through the permanent bilateral mechanisms to advance joint priorities, co-develop policies and monitor ongoing progress. 

In an effort to improve Canada’s treaty relationship with Indigenous peoples, CIRNAC will work with Indigenous partners to design and establish a new National Treaty Commissioner’s Office. 

CIRNAC will support Indigenous organizations, communities and governments in advancing their governance institutions and regimes. Specifically, the department will continue to support First Nations in exercising jurisdiction in the areas of financial management, property taxation, local revenues generation and access to capital through the 3 First Nations fiscal institutions (First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Tax Commission, and First Nations Finance Authority).

As well, CIRNAC will continue to work with national and regional Indigenous organizations (including the Lands Advisory Board, First Nations Land Management Resource Centre, and National Aboriginal Land Managers Association) to implement various initiatives relating to First Nation land management and additions to reserves, including increasing participation in the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management.

Advancing Work in the North

CIRNAC is committed to supporting Canada’s Arctic and northern regions in the spirit of partnership and reconciliation, and in the pursuit of a strong, inclusive, vibrant, prosperous, and self-sufficient North.

CIRNAC will continue the ongoing work on the implementation of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, as well as work on the Nunavut Devolution Final Agreement. In addition, the department will continue to update Nutrition North Canada, as well as lead efforts towards federal coordination of natural resource and environment management, territorial relations, and effective delivery of federal programing to support a future where the Arctic and Northerners are thriving, strong, and safe.

To meet the unique needs and realities of the North, CIRNAC will also finalize the creation of the Northern Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program to clean up the largest and most high-risk sites, as well as focus on priorities shared with territorial and Indigenous governments, including sustainable economic growth, climate change and hydroelectricity initiatives. The department will also continue to support Indigenous governance through the full implementation of land claims and self-governing agreements, health, and strategic infrastructure. 

For more information on CIRNAC’s plans, priorities and planned results, see the “Planned results and resources, and key risks, for core responsibilities” section of this report.

Planned results and resources, and key risks, for core responsibilities

This section contains detailed information on the department’s planned results and resources for each of its core responsibilities. It also contains information on key risks related to achieving those results.

Crown-Indigenous Relations ($4,205,480,925)

The core responsibility encompasses support to Indigenous organizations, individuals, communities and governments in achieving reconciliation and advancing self-determination through strengthening Crown-Indigenous relationships based on respect, cooperation, partnership, the affirmation and implementation of Indigenous rights, and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Activities include negotiating and implementing treaties, self-government agreements and specific claims; consulting and engaging on issues of importance to Indigenous peoples, providing legislative and institutional frameworks for First Nations’ jurisdiction over local taxation and financial management and addressing historic grievances.



Planning Highlights

The renewal of a nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government distinctions-based relationship with Indigenous peoples is critical to moving forward with the unfinished business of Confederation. The renewed relationship, based on the affirmation of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership, while integrating distinctions-based approaches wherever possible and appropriate, forms the foundation of the department’s approach to the self-determination of Indigenous peoples. 

To achieve progress in this area, the department will focus on the following 3 departmental results.


1.     Indigenous peoples determine their political, economic, social, and cultural development

The Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples need to be based on the affirmation and implementation of their inherent right to self-determination, including the inherent right of self-government.
In 2020?21, the department will focus on the following areas.


2. Indigenous peoples advance their governance institutions and regimes

Renewal of the nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships, including treaty relationships, includes putting in place effective mechanisms to support the transition away from colonial systems of administration and governance through support to Indigenous peoples and Northerners to advance their governance institutions.


3. Past injustices are recognized and resolved

While Indigenous peoples will always have the freedom to choose the best and most suitable forum to resolve their legal issues, litigation remains a very adversarial process. To resolve grievances, Canada remains committed to pursuing dialogue, mutual cooperation, partnerships and negotiation as positive means of advancing reconciliation.

Northern Affairs ($529,963,087)

This core responsibility involves support to Canada’s Arctic and northern organizations, individuals, communities and governments in the pursuit of a strong, inclusive, vibrant, prosperous and self-sufficient North, the vision of Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework. This includes federal coordination, science leadership, natural resource and environmental management, effective delivery of federal programming, and territorial relations.

Planning Highlights

Community and regional development is critical to the well-being of Indigenous peoples and Northerners, and underpins their full participation in Canada’s social and economic development. CIRNAC supports the efforts of Indigenous peoples and Northerners to live in strong and healthy communities with thriving cultures that are self-determining, self-governing, increasingly self-sufficient, and no longer marginalized.

To achieve progress in this area, the department will focus on the following 3 departmental results.


1. Arctic and northern leadership and prosperity are advanced

Canada recognizes the need for leadership in the Arctic and northern regions to develop solutions to regional challenges and ensure regional needs and priorities are addressed. Building capacity in regional organizations is also a key part of developing leadership.


2. Northern and Indigenous communities are resilient to changing environments

CIRNAC is working to ensure that Indigenous and northern communities are resilient to changing environments, which will allow them to respond better to challenges. Indigenous peoples and Northerners are particularly exposed to the impacts of changing environments due to a number of factors, including rapid climate change, remoteness and inaccessibility, cold climate, aging and inefficient infrastructure, flooding, and reliance on diesel for electricity generation and heating.


3. Northern lands and resources are sustainably managed

Many remote Indigenous and northern communities are facing environmental and socio-economic challenges associated with environmental and economic changes. Dealing with these challenges requires increasing participation of Indigenous organizations and Northerners in resource management policies and decisions, and strengthening government-to-government and nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous peoples based on affirmation of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

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