The federal government is planning to create a new agent of Parliament to oversee modern treaty implementation, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says will ensure Ottawa is held to account no matter who is in power.

He announced the plan to appoint a commissioner for modern treaty implementation Tuesday in Gatineau, Que., at a second annual meeting of self-governing Indigenous governments.

"This is a lasting commitment to be a better treaty partner," he said.

"To honour our agreements with Indigenous Peoples, we need to ensure that trust, transparency and accountability remain at the heart of our efforts to build renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationships."

The government is planning to wrap up consultations on the role by late June, table legislation sometime after that and budget $10.6 million over four years to support the commissioner's work.

Self-government agreements with Canada, or modern treaties, offer Indigenous groups an alternative to governance under the federal Indian Act.

It means that groups can create their own laws and policies, including when it comes to child welfare and land matters.

To date, 25 self-government agreements have been signed, encompassing 43 communities. There are also two education agreements that involve 35 Indigenous communities.

But after groups sign their agreements with Canada, they sometimes sit in limbo, said Eva Clayton, president of Nisga'a Lisims in British Columbia.

Ottawa will appoint commissioner to oversee treaties with #IndigenousPeoples: @JustinTrudeau. #CDNPoli #IndigenousGovernments #IndigenousPeoples #ModernTreaties

"We have to work really hard to get the agreement actually implemented," said Clayton, who has advocated for the creation of an independent commissioner role for some 20 years.

"It will give a focus on areas that the Canadian government needs to address in order to ensure that the spirit and intent of each of our agreements are fulfilled," said Clayton.

"Because we know that once our agreements are fully implemented, it will make life better for our people, our community members, which in turn will have a positive impact on all Canadians."

Chief Robert Louie of Westbank of First Nation in British Columbia said similar as he spoke alongside Trudeau at the morning event, calling the move an important step forward in renewing Crown-Indigenous relations.

"There is still much room for improvement on how Canada organizes itself internally to support the implementation of the inherent right to self government."

The commissioner will, according to the federal government, conduct independent oversight of Canada's work on modern treaties, and ensure their timely and effective implementation.

They will also report back to Parliament on progress, and have the authority to require departments to provide the information necessary to do their work.

Thursday's forum saw 30 Indigenous governments discuss priorities and concerns alongside a handful of federal ministers, including Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2024.

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