2nd Indigenous Law Gathering: Holding Space: Elevating Indigenous Laws to Address Historical Wrongs / Jun 11 – 12, 2024

by ahnationtalk on May 9, 202431 Views

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is hosting the 2nd Indigenous Laws Gathering on June 11-12, 2024, at the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake, Quebec, on the ancestral lands of the Huron-Wendat Peoples.

The theme of this year’s Gathering is Holding Space: Elevating Indigenous Laws to Address Historical Wrongs, with a focus on creating an Independent Centre for the Resolution of Specific Claims that recognizes and includes Indigenous Laws and legal orders.

The Gathering will bring together the AFN Council of Experts on Indigenous Laws (CEIL), members of the AFN Councils, the AFN Chiefs Committee on Lands, Territories and Resources, and other guests to engage in a facilitated discussion, learn from First Nations Knowledge Keepers and thought leaders, and contribute to ongoing efforts to co-develop a specific claims process that creates equal space for First Nations laws and legal orders.


First Nations’ laws, legal orders, languages, customs, and cultures stem from the land of which our Nations originate and have been an integral part of Nationhood across Turtle Island since time immemorial. Yet, both historical and present-day government policies and laws often overlook and disregard First Nation laws, legal orders, customs, traditions, languages, and cultures.

This lack of recognition has hindered meaningful Nation-to-Nation discussions and reconciliation between First Nations and the Crown.The AFN is dedicated to promoting and ensuring the just and enduring recognition of First Nation legal orders, languages, customs, traditions, and cultures in all their diversity. This commitment extends to policies, processes, and laws that directly impact First Nations.

In 2020, First Nations-in-Assembly mandated the AFN to co-develop a fully independent specific claims resolution process based on four key principles:

  • Honour of the Crown;
  • Independence of all aspects of the claims resolution process;
  • Recognition of Indigenous laws and legal orders; and,
  • No arbitrary limits on financial compensation.

In 2022, the AFN and the Government of Canada held a public ceremony to formally launch co-development and created an AFN – Crown Indigenous Relations Specific Claims Implementation Working Group (SCIWG) to jointly design an Independent Centre for the Resolution of Specific Claims (Centre).

To guide concrete efforts that respect and give due recognition to Indigenous Peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, a Council of Experts on Indigenous Laws (CEIL) was established by the AFN in 2023, to share perspectives on Indigenous laws with a particular focus on their application to the resolution of specific claims.

The AFN also hosted its first Indigenous Laws Gathering in June 2023 on the unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territory, in Vancouver, British Columbia, supported by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). The Gathering focused on the inclusion of Indigenous Laws, legal orders, and land tenure systems, which are grounded in particular territories, remain intact, and are critical to the resolution of specific claims.

Several principles emerged during the Gathering which are applicable to the recognition of Indigenous laws in the specific claims process. We seek to build off this important work and continue efforts to design a less adversarial process to address outstanding specific claims implemented through an Independent Centre for the Resolution of Specific Claims

For more information on the 2023 Indigenous Laws Gathering, and to read the summary report, click HERE

For more info on the CEIL, click HERE

The AFN continues to advance mandates from First Nations-in-Assembly that uphold Articles 27 and 40 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including in the AFN’s current specific claims co-development process with the Government of Canada.


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