Higher Performing First Nations Emphasize Transparency

Aboriginal Futures, Blog, Commentary, Frontier Centre


  • second annual Aboriginal Governance Index surveys First Nations residents to discover the true state of governance on Prairie reserves. We expanded this year’s index to include reserves in Saskatchewan as well as Manitoba, which we covered in the first index.

    Aside from discovering how residents rate their governance structure, it is also possible to investigate the relationships between different sections of the survey. We asked questions in six areas: Elections, Administration, Human Rights, Transparency, Services, and the Economy. The authors wanted to discover if any one area acted as a linchpin for high standards overall. To investigate this possibility, they measured the relationship between the overall scores and the scores from the individual sections. They found transparency made the biggest difference.

    As the chart below shows, the scores fit into a very narrow band. If we know how transparent a First Nation is, we have a good chance of predicting how it will score overall. The other factors also correlated, but not as strongly as transparency.

    The Transparency section asked questions like “Does the band allow access for its members to its business plan and financial statements?” Although correlations do not prove anything (there could be many explanations for the relationship), this result suggests that improving transparency is the best way for First Nations to improve the overall welfare of residents.

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