“Spirit and Intent” in Modern Treaty Implementation: Measuring Economic Success and Treaty Objectives
Researcher: First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun
Research Theme: Implementation Evaluation and Socio-Economic Impacts
There is a significant difference between how government vs. non-partisan and Indigenous bodies frame successful approaches to modern treaty implementation. The goals of treaty implementation are described in somewhat similar terms - namely, (re)conciliation and new intergovernmental relationships.
However, Canada describes an approach to meeting those goals based largely on fulfilling legal obligations within treaties, while Indigenous groups and non -partisan entities critique this approach as harmful and “narrow,” and instead advocate for an approach focused on holistic interpretation and honoring the “spirit and intent” of agreements
Indigenous advocacy groups and independent political bodies have been calling on Canada to honour the “spirit and intent” for almost two decades. However, Canada does not mention “spirit and intent” in any publication, until 2018. Despite its significance, there is no clear definition of “spirit and intent”– especially not at the community level. Consequently, it is absent in implementation assessment practices, performance indicators, guiding approaches, and on-the-ground work plans. This study seeks to respond to this gap, and to center Indigenous voices in doing so.