NCN OTHASOWEWIN (Constitution)

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.

Together We Made History!

NCN Becomes the First Manitoba First Nation to Adopt its Own Constitution

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 Poll 2 Poll 3 Poll 4 Poll 5 Poll 6 Poll 7 Poll 8 Evote Total
YES Vote 19 25 14 50 59 80 22 25 720 1014
NO Vote 3 0 2 26 19 35 8 3 99 195

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

What is a Constitution?

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

Your Othasowewin (Constitution) Vote Counts!

Vote now with the e-vote option. It’s fast, easy and secure!

In-person voting is also available in Winnipeg, Thompson, Leaf Rapids and Nelson House on the following dates:

  • November 20, 2017 Leaf Rapids, Town Center
  • November 21, 2017 Thompson, Mystery Lake Hotel
  • November 23, 2017 Winnipeg, Fairfield Inn & Suites
  • November 28 & 29, 2017 NCN, Gilbert McDonald Arena

All polls will be open from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Not registered to vote yet?

Contact Jacqueline Hunter, Ratification Officer
Ph/Txt: 204-679-5213
Email: [email protected]


NCN Citizens are encouraged to make an informed decision. Find out more from Chief and Council, discuss the topic with community consultants visiting homes, attend upcoming open houses and General Assemblies and share your thoughts. Be sure to vote!

Important Upcoming Dates

Open Houses:

  • October 5, 2017 – Winnipeg
  • October 11, 2017 – Leaf Rapids
  • October 12, 2017 – Thompson
  • October 19, 2017 – General Assembly
  • October 24, 25, 26, 2017 – Small group workshops NCN

Voting Dates:

  • November 1–29, 2017 – E-vote
  • November 20, 2017 – Leaf Rapids
  • November 21, 2017 – Thompson
  • November 23, 2017 – Winnipeg
  • November 28-29, 2017 – NCN

All polls will be from 12:00pm to 8:00pm

Constitution Workshop Features First Nations’ Constitutional Expert

Chief and Council scheduled a two-day Constitution Workshop to explore the value of a constitution for NCN Citizens. The workshop featured Chief Robert Louis who successfully led Westbank First Nation in Kelowna B.C. through a process to adopt a Constitution. He helped NCN Citizens to explore the value of a Constitution for our future.
A Constitution Workshop: To be held Wednesday, April 16 & Thursday, April 17 at 10:00 a.m. at the Nelson House United Church.

Round 2 Meet and Greets

Following Round 1 review meet and greets held between January 9 and 15, Chief and Council took the feedback and questions from those meetings to prepare a Question, Answers and Comments document (available below), and to make some initial changes to the draft Constitution. This document was circulated to NCN Citizens before Round 2 Meet and Greets held February 6 to 12 at the following locations.

Community Date Location Time
WINNIPEG Thu., Feb. 6 Royal Canadian Legion
South Osborne Branch
426 Osborne Street S.
4:30 – 9:30 p.m.
NELSON HOUSE Mon., Feb. 10 United Church 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.
LEAF RAPIDS Tue., Feb. 11 Christ the King Roman Catholic Church 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.
THOMPSON Wed., Feb. 12 Juniper Centre 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.

The Meet and Greets provided opportunities for NCN Citizens to further discuss and comment on the Constitution including its relationship to the Wuskwatim investment, One-year Agreement, PDA Supplement 2, Trust Agreements and CRD License.

Any further changes to the draft Constitution resulting from the Round 2 meet and greets will be communicated to NCN Citizens before a vote on the draft Constitution is held.

Questions, Answers and Comments document

The Questions, Answers and Comments document  is available for download by clicking here. Printed copies will be available at the Implementation Office or the NCN Government Office.

Constitution Process Started Earlier (2013)

For the first time in NCN’s long constitutional-development process, a draft constitution was written and circulated to NCN Citizens for review and comment. It is available for download by clicking on this link.

Several constitutional models studied

During its development, several constitutional models were reviewed and it was determined a model more unique to NCN should be developed. The constitution of the Westbank First Nation of Kelowna British Columbia was especially useful for guidance because it is quite detailed and Westbank is one of few First Nations that have concluded a self-government agreement with the Government of Canada.

Early Constitution Review Meetings Held (2014)

A first round of Constitution review meetings with NCN Citizens were held in January 2014. A newsletter with an overview of the draft constitution were distributed to NCN households and can be downloaded below.

Downloads or links to documents

NCN Draft Constitution

Constitution Newsletter

Constitution Feedback Form