FAC joins Australian and Canadian Indigenous organisations in an international agreement

Embodying the spirit of Empowerment and Determination

The Indigenous peoples in Australia and Canada share a similar history marked by the dispossession of their lands and waters, the denial of their rights, systematic exclusion from the economy and from opportunities for wealth creation. This exclusion and marginalisation of Indigenous peoples from economic opportunities is an ongoing issue in both Australia and Canada.

On Thursday 16 November 2023 in Gatineau, south western Quebec, Canada a unique international agreement between key Indigenous-led organisations in Australia and Canada that prioritises Indigenous collaboration and diplomacy is seeking to address the entrenched economic exclusion and lack of opportunity of Indigenous peoples in the two countries.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is being signed between key Canadian First Nations financial institutions – the First Nations Financial Management Board and the First Nations Finance Authority – and key Australian Indigenous-led organisations – the Australian National University’s First Nations Portfolio, First Australians Capital, The Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, and the National Native Title Council.

“First Australians Capital aims to create a new economy driven by First Australians. We are excited by the opportunity to grow global collaborations between First Nations authorities in Canada that this MOU aims to facilitate,” said Leah Armstrong, Chairperson of FAC.

“Our shared histories and pursuits on reconciliation and self-determination provide the foundations for advancing Indigenous economic rights and wealth creation.”

The agreement is a unique and historic move to encourage closer ties and collaboration between First Nations organisations, committed to advancing economic reconciliation in Australia and Canada.

Formalising an already strong relationship between the organisations developed over the past 18 months, the agreement commits the parties to working together on matters of shared concern, including collaborative research, the exchange of knowledge and ideas, as well as facilitating staff exchange and other reciprocal opportunities in both countries.

The MOU is a unique example of Indigenous-led international collaboration and diplomacy. Involving multiple key institutions in Australia and Canada, it will be an important platform for advancing collaboration to improve better economic opportunities for Indigenous peoples, and broader economic reconciliation in the two countries.

Acknowledging that the economic rights and interests of Indigenous peoples is a matter of global concern, the agreement enhances the importance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a critical consideration and important standard, in addressing matters related to opportunities and the well-being of Indigenous peoples in Canada and Australia.

Peter Yu, Vice President – First Nations, at the Australian National University said, “The MOU is an important milestone in the developing relationship between our respective First Nations peoples and agencies from Australia and Canada. It demonstrates the important shared historical experiences and common commitment to First Nations economic empowerment as fundamental to our self-determination.

“As mandated by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the MOU is significant to our shared responsibilities towards bringing greater government and corporate world responsibilities in developing and adopting global standards and measures, regarding the rights and interests of Indigenous people.”

The agreement adds an outward looking, international, dimension to struggles in both countries of Indigenous peoples, to confront and address barriers to economic exclusion and participation.