With the return of Parliament on September 15, the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is set to begin its hearings on Bill C-428, ofﬁcially known as “An Act to Amend the Indian Act (Publication of By-laws) and to Provide for its Replacement”.
The Private Member’s bill is sponsored by Member of Parliament Rob Clarke (Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River), himself a member of the Muskeg Lake First Nation. Mr. Clarke described the changes proposed in his bill as “housekeeping in nature and are designed to remove the underbrush from the (Indian) Act.”
Under Bill C-428, section 81 Indian Act by-laws could no longer be disallowed by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Instead, First Nations would have the option of publishing their by-laws in a newspaper, on their own website, or in the First Nations Gazette (FNG).
The First Nations Gazette has long been an effective and reliable option for First Nations. Launched on Aboriginal Day in 1997, and published in a partnership between the First Nations Tax Commission and the Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan, the Gazette has been recognized as the only national repository of its kind in Canada.
The Gazette is available online (www.fng.ca), complete with a searchable database, which is updated daily, and includes a notifi cation component similar to Part I of the Canada Gazette.
Today, over 180 First Nations use the Gazette, where more than 2,800 by-laws, laws and land codes are published.
The Gazette provides direct access to First Nation citizens, leasehold and other residents living on reserve lands, electors, legal practitioners, and those with commercial and other interests in reserve land. FNG is a service provided by the FNTC. There is no cost for First Nations to use the Gazette.
It is anticipated that the Senate hearings will begin at the end of September. Bill C-428 was fi rst introduced in the House of Commons in June 2012.
“Should it be the wish of Parliament to approve Bill C-428, the First Nations Gazette is ready to assist First Nations in meeting their requirements under this Act, should they choose this vehicle to do so.”
– Commissioner Lester Lafond, Chairman of the First Nations Gazette Editorial Board.