Finding Strength from Within: How Voluntary Outside Accreditation can Advance First Nation Communities

Publication, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

Executive Summary

• The Idle No More movement was motivated to a certain degree by opposition to imposed change.
• First Nations have historically opposed imposed solutions. First Nations require a new approach.
• Some of the most successful initiatives that benefit First Nations have been voluntary initiatives, such as the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA) and Section 83 of the Indian Act that allows bands to raise local tax revenues.
• Policy makers often miss that voluntary outside accreditation is one solution for First Nations improvement.
• The first voluntary initiative is certification though the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB). This certification allows bands to borrow funds for important infrastructure projects at preferential rates.
• The second voluntary initiative is certification through the International Standardization for Organization (ISO). Two bands in Canada have made history by receiving certification through ISO 90001. This means they assure outside investors that they have a quality management system in place.
• This study looks at the experience of Membertou First Nation located on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and Sagamok First Nation, a First Nation located near Sudbury, Ontario. The paper assesses the challenges and potential of ISO certification.
• The last initiative studied is one developed by the Institute on Governance (IOG). The paper by IOG argues for an outside certification system for First Nations housing. In particular, the study argues for a system where First Nations that adopt the certification receive specific benefits for their involvement.
• This paper argues for specific recommendations for each of the systems. For the First Nations Financial Management Board (FNFMB), this paper proposes that the federal government continue financing the First Nations Financial Management Board and the First Nations Finance Authority. It also argues that the federal government should provide a sovereign guarantee (or a federal loan guarantee) to the FNFMB so that it can loan money at even better terms for joining First Nations.
• For ISO certification, the paper proposes a few recommendations. The first is that the federal government ought to finance the cost of outside consultants that First Nations have to bring in to obtain ISO certification. The federal government, through AANDC, should recognize and promote ISO certification to more First Nations.

View entire study here.