Nipissing First Nation (NFN) had a decision to make on ratification of the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement.

NFN Chief Scott McLeod says there are a lot of moving parts to the agreement.

“It’s looking at moving out of the archaic Indian Act, which is a federal piece of legislation that was created in 1876 I believe,” McLeod explained. “It really handcuffed First Nation communities to be able to govern their own affairs and make decisions on their own.”

“This agreement looks at four areas of the Indian Act and essentially slides them over into a separate self-governing act that the federal government is proposing that would transfer the decision making and control of those four areas to the chiefs and councils of the communities that participate,” he added.

McLeod says this agreement doesn’t add another level of government that isn’t already there, it just streamlines protocols.

“It empowers the chief and council governments of those communities to make laws and decisions in those four areas without having to run to Indian Affairs to get approval, which is not only demeaning to First Nation communities but it takes a lot of time and bureaucracy to get any decisions made,” McLeod explained.

“It also comes with the financial resources to actually do the work that is being transferred over,” he added. “It’s not self-government in its truest sense, but it is moving out of the Indian Act and moving closer to us being able to have control of our own affairs and moving towards self-determination and self-government.”

There is hope of a second vote, however, says McLeod.

“We’re a bit low under the threshold for accepting the results of the yes and no’s,” he said. “There is an option, which we are currently looking at, to run a second vote and we are going through that process now. There’s got to be some planning involved that would see us moving towards that.”

“I haven’t even had a chance at this point to meet with council and go over the results at this point and what our next steps are,” McLeod added.

Out of an eligible 2,373 voters, only 494 cast votes. Of those, 236 were in favour of the agreement, while 157 opposed.  In order for NFN to push ratification over the finish line, they need 25 per cent plus one of the total eligible voters, or 595 ‘yes’ votes.

As first reported by Anishinabek News, Grand Chief Glen Hare says he was pleased to hear that there was more ‘yes’ than ‘no’ votes across the first group of First Nations who have voted.