La spécificité de chaque gouvernement de Première Nation et la façon dont celui-ci produit son revenu rend extrêmement variable le financement octroyé par le gouvernement fédéral. Les Premières Nations auraient donc intérêt à privilégier le revenu dit autonome, puisque l’indépendance fiscale de leur gouvernement est dans leur intérêt.
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Funding First Nations governments in Canada is a complicated affair, reflecting all manner of influences including community needs, government priorities, direct transfer, treaty payments, own-source revenue, funding from corporate collaboration agreements, fees, and local taxes, among others. But financing the core responsibilities of Indigenous governments comes from the government of Canada. There is no fixed formula for funding First Nations governments. In fact, there are dramatic variations in both the administration responsibilities of individual First Nations and the money allocated to the First Nation.
Federal funding is neither a “gift” to the community nor a recognition of their “special status.” Most of the money covers costs associated with education, health care, social housing, and basic infrastructure – federal government duties that are discharged in other jurisdictions by provincial and municipal governments or federal agencies. The myth of government generosity to First Nations remains pervasive in Canada but is a severe misrepresentation of the financing of Indigenous communities.
This paper examines the finances of a sample of 12 First Nations from across Canada, using their published audited financial statements to describe the inequality in First Nation government financing in Canada. Our project focuses on eight rural and remote communities, including Wabigoon, Neskantaga, Wahnapitae, Doig River, Canupawakpa, Siksika, Buffalo River, and Muskrat Dam, alongside the more urban Indigenous communities of Kwänlin Dun (Whitehorse), Tsawwassen in the Lower Mainland of BC, Moosomin and Cowessess in Saskatchewan, the Maliseet Nation at Tobique bordering Perth/ Andover in New Brunswick, and the Membertou in Cape Breton.