Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for September 24, 2012

First Nation seeks transfer pact extension

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation has requested its current Financial Transfer Agreement be extended until a new FTA can be agreed upon with the federal government.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on September 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The Carcross/Tagish First Nation has requested its current Financial Transfer Agreement be extended until a new FTA can be agreed upon with the federal government.

In an open letter to Michael Wernick, the deputy minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Danny Cresswell, C/TFN Khà Shâde Héni (chief) says he still has not received a response to his Sept. 17 letter to the AANDC minister, John Duncan.

“I am writing to you to put in place a workable solution in case I am not able to meet with the minister prior to the end of the month,” Cresswell writes.

C/TFN’s transfer agreement came into effect in 2006 for a term of five years. It was extended for two years until March 31, 2012.

The agreement was extended a second time until Sept. 30, 2012, after a new FTA offer from the federal government was rejected by the First Nation.

In a May 17 article in the Star, Ruth Massie, the grand chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, said, “They (C/TFN) have a lot of issues with their FTA because it is totally inadequate with what they have in Carcross.”

While the federal government has said the new offer is comparable to the FTAs agreed upon with the other 10 self-governing First Nations in the Yukon, C/TFN disagrees.

A July release by the First Nation says, “The Carcross/Tagish First Nation are a proud self-governing people that only want funding that is fair and comparable to other self-governing Yukon First Nations.

“Canada is forcing us to either accept inadequate and unequal funding, so we cannot properly care for our people, or receive no funding, which would be devastating to our First Nation.”

The offer would enrich funding to the First Nation by $1.6 million a year, but does not look at funding increases for specific services and programs.

A federal government fact sheet regarding the issue says funding for services and programs “is expected to be the subject of further discussion among all governments in the Yukon Territory.”

The federal government has said if a new agreement is not in place by Oct. 1, it is “taking steps to reassume responsibility for delivery of programs and services with minimal disruption to C/TFN citizens.”

In the House of Commons question period last Thursday, Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal MP for St. Paul’s riding in Ontario, asked if the minister for aboriginal affairs would ensure C/TFN had the money it needs by Oct.  1.

“Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government talks about strong, self-sufficient aboriginal communities then actively undermines them,” Bennett said.

“The Carcross-Tagish First Nation in the Yukon has successfully managed its own affairs since 2006. It needs a new federal funding agreement by October 1 or this exemplary example, groundbreaking example, of aboriginal self-government will collapse,” she said.

Conservative MP Greg Rickford, the parliamentary secretary for the minister questioned, responded:

“Mr. Speaker, we have successfully negotiated the renewal of financial transfer agreements with 10 of the 11 self-governing First Nations in the Yukon. Carcross/Tagish is the only First Nation to not have renewed its agreement.

“Canada has made a fair offer to the First Nation and we urge the chief to reconsider that offer. Our government remains ready and willing to work with the First Nation toward a renewed agreement.”

In the letter to Wernick, Cresswell says the First Nation is similarly willing to work with the federal government toward a renewed agreement

“We are optimistic that another six-month extension to the current agreement would allow that to happen.”

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