Monday, October 26, 2020


The Structure Of The Indian Act: Accountability In Governance

Associate Professor Shin Imai |

Osgoode Hall Law School

The Indian Act has been criticized for giving Chief and Council too little power to make their own decisions. The Act has also been criticized for giving Chief and Council too much power to make decisions.  Some people point out that Chief and Council do not have enough accountability to members of the community.  The fact is, both criticisms are valid. This report shows how the structure of the Indian Act creates this contradictory state of affairs and how to avoid such contradictions when the First Nation moves out of the Indian Act to a more suitable First Nation designed government system. A government system designed by First Nations will see a much reduced or eliminated role for the federal government. But this will not be enough. The First Nation government system should also deal with ways to ensure that Chief and Council use their powers in a good way. There are three ways to control the powers of Chief and Council. First, Chief and Council should be accountable to the community members. Second, the decisions of Chief and Council should be consistent with core principles that are important to the community. Third, there must be a tribunal that is independent of Chief and Council that can certify and interpret the laws and can hear appeals from decisions.