Nisichawayasihk Cree nation has spoken and have voted in favour of our own Othasowewin (Constitution).
Approving our Othasowewin (Constitution) is a crucial step in the Kwayaskonikiwin (Reconciliation) journey of our Nation. It will provide the foundation for us to develop laws about economic development, education, social and cultural development. It will provide the basis for us to enter into self-government negotiations with other levels of government on a true Nation to Nation basis and is a way for us to assert our Tipethimisowin (Sovereignty). It will also help us to protect our Treaty and Aboriginal Rights for future generations.
View the Final Approved Othasowewin (Constitution) by Community Ratification Vote – November 29, 2017
To view more information on our Laws and Governance and how we are using our Othasowewin (Constitution) to improve the way we run our community visit the Laws and Governance page.
The tally is in and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation eligible voters have voted in favour of proceeding with the Othasowewin (Constitution). Nearly 84 percent of voters who cast a ballot voted in favour. The voter turnout was close to 37 per cent.
Poll 1: Leaf Rapids, South Indian Lake, Lynn Lake
Poll 2: Thompson
Poll 3: Winnipeg
Poll 4: Bayroad
Poll 5: New Area, Moore’s Bay, Hart’s Point
Poll 6: Westwood, Hillside, School Area, Wasasihk, Dog Point, etc.
Poll 7: Metis, RC Point, Lil RC Point
Poll 8: Traveling Poll-Elders, Disabled, etc.
Evote: Electronic Votes
REJECTED BALLOTS: 9
TOTAL BALLOTS: 1218
A Constitution provides a framework for governance. It sets out the relationship between citizens and their government (NCN Citizens and Chief and Council). Effective constitutions define who has what powers, rights and responsibilities, how laws will be developed and how disputes will be resolved.
Why do we need a Constitution?
- In simple terms to replace the Indian Act with our own systems and authority. It allows us to strengthen our own governance systems instead of being told what to do by the Minister of Indian Affairs and bureaucrats in that department. They have told us what we can and cannot do for decades. A Constitution is an important document to reassert our sovereignty and our rights to govern ourselves.
- The Nisichawayasi Aski Pumenikewin (land code) gives NCN the authority to govern our lands instead of the Minister of Indian Affairs so a number of provisions under the Indian Act do not apply to our lands. It sets out the process to make laws about land matters that is in the draft Constitution.
- The Constitution will provide authority to pass laws in relation to other matters. The land code and the Constitution procedures are the same but the scope of the authority in the Constitution is not just limited to land matters.
- The Constitution also defines the institutions that form part of our government, the rights of our Citizens and dispute resolution mechanisms.
- Constitutions also play a critical role in supporting economic development by putting in place appropriate lines of authority between the day to day management of businesses and politics. In simple terms, good governance helps to attract investors and NCN needs its own source revenues to deliver programs and services for our Citizens.
Do all Nations have Constitutions?
- All Indigenous Nations had systems of governance that were impacted by colonization, including Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Many of these constitutions were not written but asserted through customary protocols and Nation practices. Great Britain and the Navajo Nations are examples of nations that do not have written constitutions. They have various rules and customs that are followed.
- But, many First Nations in Canada and the United States are reasserting their authority by developing their own Constitutions. One of the most recent examples is the James Bay Cree who approved their Constitution and self-government agreement this summer.
- A number of other First Nations initially approved their land codes and are now working on the development of their own Constitutions. Other First Nations have developed their Constitutions without doing land codes.
Constitutional Development and Spirituality
- Sometimes it is difficult to understand the connections between our culture, our language, our traditions and the actions we are taking today.
- Our teachings tell us that everything is connected. We are connected to each other, to Mother Earth, to Grandmother Moon, the seasons and what they teach us.
- This Constitution is about change. It is about our ability to use everything we have learned in the past to make a better future for our Nation, for all of us. It is about taking positive steps to change ourselves to ensure that our children, our grand-children and our great-grandchildren will always be proud to be the Nisichawaysi Nehetho.
- It is about taking control and responsibility for our lives by asserting our sovereignty so we do not always have to go to the Minister of Indian Affairs for approval to do the things we want to do in our community.
- As explained in past community meetings and workshops, symbolism is very important to our people. The analogy we have used is that to soar again like Grandfather Eagle, we need a strong foundation. We are trying to strengthen the twin pillars of good governance and economic development while ensuring the steps we take are spiritually sound. This foundation will help us to sustain our lands, our people and our resources.
What is Included in a Constitution?
- Purpose and Community’s Beliefs
- Description of who is governed
- Outline of the rights and freedoms of Citizens
- What is governed (jurisdiction over lands, resources and peoples)
- Institutions or structures of government
- Roles and limits of authority of various governmental bodies
- How leaders and officials will be selected (elections/appointment)
- Relationship between governmental bodies, different levels of government and citizens
- Law making processes
- Dispute Resolution processes
- Mechanisms for Citizen input
- Amendment procedures