On June 17, 2015 the FNTC hosted a delegation from Taiwan (Republic of China), led by Minister Lin Chiang-I, Council of Indigenous Peoples met with the First Nations Tax Commission. The Commission was represented by Deputy Chief Commissioner David Paul. The meeting, held in the Commission’s Ottawa office, was also attended by officials from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada (located in Ottawa), led by Ambassador Bruce Linghu.
The ten-person delegation was in Canada for a week-long visit to meet with a number of Aboriginal organizations across the country, primarily to learn about economic development and financial practices on reserve. In addition to Ottawa, the delegation traveled to Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver.
During the hour long meeting, the delegates, all members of indigenous tribes – seven of whom are mayors of villages throughout Taiwan – learned about the origins and mandate of the Commission, the benefits from collecting property tax (and other taxes), as well as the other economic development tools available under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. Such powers do not exist for the 16 indigenous tribes in Taiwan.
The experience of the indigenous peoples in Taiwan was also shared. The current indigenous population in Taiwan is approximately 530,000, roughly 2% of the total population. In Canada, just over 1.4 million people (4% of the total population in Canada) identified themselves as an Aboriginal person.
The Council of Indigenous Peoples is a ministry-level body under the Executive Yuan in the Republic of China. It was established to provide a central point of government supervision for indigenous affairs, as well as a central interface for Taiwan’s indigenous community to interact with the government.
The Council’s responsibilities include the power to grant recognized status to indigenous tribes of Taiwan. The tribes must apply with a petition and various pieces of evidence of their legitimacy.
Besides officially recognizing tribes, the Council promotes the use and revitalization of Taiwan’s aboriginal languages, supports legislation that would grant autonomous land to indigenous peoples, strengthens relations between Taiwan’s indigenous groups and those in other countries, and raises awareness of aboriginal cultures.