Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

The minister of Crown–Indigenous relations (French: ministre des relations couronne-autochtones) is a minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet, one of two ministers (the other being the minister of northern affairs) who administer Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC), the department of the Government of Canada which is responsible for administering the Indian Act and other legislation dealing with "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The minister is also more broadly responsible for overall relations between the federal government and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.

Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Ministre des Relations Couronne-Autochtones
Carolyn Bennett

since November 4, 2015
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
StyleThe Honourable
Member of
Reports to
AppointerMonarch (represented by the governor general)
on the advice of the prime minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderHector Louis Langevin
FormationMay 22, 1868
SalaryCA$269,800 (2019)[4]

Carolyn Bennett has been the present minister of Crown–Indigenous relations since November 4, 2015, previously serving as minister of state (public health) in the Martin government, and as a physician prior to her entry into politics.

The current version of the position was created alongside the minister of Indigenous services, who is administers Indigenous Services Canada, the department responsible for health care, water, and other services to Indigenous communities[5] when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on August 28, 2017 that the federal government intended to abolish the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada department.[5]

Legal title

The applied title of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND), under the Federal Identity Program, is Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). INAC is responsible for policies relating to Aboriginal peoples in Canada, that comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The title has been changed over the last decade from "Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs" to a working title of "Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development" on May 18, 2011, during the cabinet shuffle under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper,[6] and back to "Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs" during the 29th Canadian Ministry on November 4, 2015. The current working title under CIRNAC was introduced in the 29th Ministry on August 28, 2017 in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada would be gradually abolished.[5]


According to their website, the mandate of the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) is to "renew the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis; modernize Government of Canada structures to enable Indigenous peoples to build capacity and support their vision of self-determination; and lead the Government of Canada's work in the North."[7]


In their July 5, 2018 document, CIRNAC wrote that the concept of Aboriginal nation in Canada, based on the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), refers to "a sizeable body of Aboriginal people with a shared sense of national identity that constitutes the predominant population in a certain territory or collection of territories. There are three elements in this definition: collective sense of identity; size as a measure of capacity; and territorial predominance. The first element, a collective sense of identity, can be based on a variety of factors. It is usually grounded in a common heritage, which comprises such elements as a common history, language, culture, traditions, political consciousness, laws, governmental structures, spirituality, ancestry, homeland or adherence to a particular treaty."[8]

According to the 1985 Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. I-6) [9] the term "Indian" remained in the department's legal name, although the term "Indigenous" is used in its applied title under the Federal Identity Program.[10][11]

According to a 2004 AADNC Government of Canada document, the term "First Nation", has been used since the 1970s instead of the word "Indian", which some people found offensive.[12][13] The term "Indian" is used for legal and historical documents such as Status Indians as defined by the Indian Act. For example, the term "Indian" continues to be used in the historical and legal document, the Canadian Constitution and federal statutes. The term "Aboriginal" is commonly used when referring to the three groups of Indigenous peoples as a whole, First Nations, Inuit and Métis.[13] It is also used by Aboriginal people who live within Canada who claim rights of sovereignty or Aboriginal title to lands.


In 1983, the Penner Report by the Special Parliamentary Committee on Indian Self-Government, chaired by Liberal MP Keith Penner, had recommended the phasing out of the Indian Act and the Department of Indian Affairs and the introduction of Native self-government.[14] Then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, had dismissed the report in 1984. Reports and commissions following the Penner Report including the "Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (2015), the Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples (2017), Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussions, and the national engagement—[Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework (RIIRF)]—led by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations", confirmed that "changes are needed to ensure that policies effectively respond to the needs and interests of Indigenous communities" and that policies need to be aligned "with evolving laws and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the concept of free, prior and informed consent."[15] On February 14, 2018, during a speech in the House of Commons, Trudeau announced the formation of the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework which was intended to "enshrine Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982— which affirms Indigenous rights — in federal law" and to "fill the gap between federal government policies and multiple court decisions on Indigenous rights." It was to be undertaken in "full partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples".[16][17][18][19][20]

In their Fourteenth Report released on December 3, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples listed improvements, changes and concerns related to the relationship between CIRNAC and agencies such as the Lands Advisory Board also known as First Nations Land Management Resource Centre (FNLMRC), the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC)[21][Notes 1] and the First Nations Financial Management Board [22][Notes 2][23]:A15[24][25]

Changing names and responsibilities from 1867 to 2019

Prior to Canadian Confederation in 1867, the Indian Department for British North America was responsible for relations between the Crown and Indigenous peoples.

A superintendent-general of Indian affairs was in the Cabinet of Canada from 1867 until 1936 when the minister of mines and resources became responsible for native affairs. In 1950, the Indian Affairs branch was transferred to the minister of citizenship and immigration, who had responsibility for "status Indians" until the creation of the position of minister of Indian affairs and northern development in 1966.[26]

Before 1966, the Northern Development portions of the portfolio were the responsibility of the minister of northern affairs and national resources.[26]

A 1983 House of Commons Committee recommended that Indian or First Nations communities be allowed to write their own membership code provided that the code did not violate fundamental human rights. A second report from the 1983 Penner Committee recommended the gradual abolition of the office of minister of Indian affairs and a transfer of responsibility for their own affairs to First Nations communities. Proposed changes died on the House of Commons' Order Paper at the end of the parliamentary session and have not been re-introduced.

Until amendments to the Indian Act in 1985 restored Indian status to many people whose status had been revoked for discriminatory reasons, about half of the persons claiming to be Indians were entitled to be registered as Indians under the Indian Act and to receive the benefits reserved for registered Indians under the Act. In 1985, status was restored to 100,000 people including women who married men who were not Status Indians, and their children; people who had, prior to 1961, renounced their Indian status so they could vote in federal elections, and their children; people whose mother and paternal grandmother did not have status before marriage (these people lost status at 21), and their children; and people who had been born out of wedlock of mothers with status and fathers without, and their children.

As of July 2004, the minister of Indian affairs and northern development has been assigned the role of federal interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians concurrently.

By 2017, CIRNAC and the minister of Indigenous services were responsible for federal government relations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.[7]


The Minister has responsibilities, wholly or partially, under a number of Acts:[27](list may not be complete)

  • Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act R.S., 1985, c. A-12
  • British Columbia Indian Cut-off Lands Settlement Act — 1984, c. 2
  • British Columbia Indian Reserves Mineral Resources Act — 1943-44, c. 19
  • British Columbia Treaty Commission Act — 1995, c. 45
  • Canada Petroleum Resources Act — R.S., 1985, c. 36 (2nd Supp.)
  • Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord Implementation Act — 1998, c. 5
  • Canadian Polar Commission Act — 1991, c. 6
  • Caughnawaga Indian Reserve Act — 1934, c. 29
  • Claim Settlements (Alberta and Saskatchewan)Implementation Act — 2002, c-3
  • Condominium Ordinance Validation Act— 1985, c. 46
  • Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act — 1984, c. 18
  • Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act — R.S., 1985, c. I-6
  • Dominion Water Power Act, — R.S., 1985, c. W-4
  • First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act — 2005, c. 53
  • First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act — 2006, c. 10
  • First Nations Land Management Act — 1999, c. 24
  • First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management Act — 2005, c. 48
  • Fort Nelson Indian Reserve Minerals Revenue Sharing Act — 1980-81-82-83, c. 38
  • Grassy Narrows and Islington Indian Bands Mercury Pollution Claims Settlement Act — 1986, c. 23
  • Gwich’in Land Claim Settlement Act — 1992, c. 53
  • Indian Act — R.S., 1985, c. I-5
  • Indian Lands Agreement Act (1986) — 1988, c. 39
  • Indian Oil and Gas Act — R.S., 1985, c. I-7
  • Kanesatake Interim Land Base Governance Act — 2001, c. 8
  • Kelowna Accord Implementation Act 2008, c. 23
  • Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act — 2005, c. 27
  • Lands Surveys Act, Canada — R.S., 1985, c. L-6 Part III
  • Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act — 1998, c. 25
  • Manitoba Claim Settlements Implementation Act — 2000, c. 33
  • Mi’kmaq Education Act — 1998, c. 24
  • Natural Resources Transfer (School Lands) Amendments, (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) (see also School Lands) — 1960-61, c. 62
  • Nelson House First Nation Flooded Land Act — 1997, c. 29
  • New Brunswick Indian Reserves Agreement — 1959, c. 47
  • Northwest Territories Act — R.S., 1985, c. N-27
  • Northwest Territories Waters Act — 1992, c. 39
  • Nova Scotia Indian Reserves Agreement — 1959, c. 50
  • Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act — 2008, c. 2
  • Nunavut Act — 1993, c. 28
  • Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act — 1993, c. 29
  • Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act — 2002, c. 10
  • Oil and Gas Operations Act, Canada — R.S., 1985, c. O-7
  • Pictou Landing Indian Band Agreement Act — 1995, c. 4
  • Sahtu Dene and Metis Land Claim Settlement Act — 1994, c. 27
  • St. Peters Indian Reserve Act — 1916, c. 24
  • St. Regis Islands Act — 1926-27, c. 37
  • Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Act — 1993, c. 11
  • Sechelt Indian Band Self-Government Act — 1986, c. 27
  • Songhees Indian Reserve Act — 1911, c. 24
  • Specific Claims Tribunal Act 2008, c. 22
  • Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land Act — 1994, c. 42
  • Territorial Lands Act — R.S., 1985, c. T-7
  • Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act — 2005, c. 1
  • Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act — 2008, c. 32
  • Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act — 2004, c. 17
  • Western Arctic (Inuvialuit) Claims Settlement Act — 1984, c. 24
  • York Factory First Nation Flooded Land Act — 1997, c. 28
  • Yukon Act — 2002, c. 7
  • Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Act — 2003, c. 7
  • Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act — 1994, c. 35

Boards, Commissions and Other Responsibilities

The Minister is also the lead Minister or responsible Minister for:

  • Canadian Polar Commission
  • Corporation for the Mitigation of Mackenzie Gas Project Impacts
  • First Nations Statistical Institute
  • Indian Oil and Gas Canada
  • Northwest Territories Commissioner
  • Northwest Territories Water Board
  • Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board
  • Contract for Implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
  • Nunavut Commissioner
  • Nunavut Impact Review Board
  • Nunavut Planning Commission
  • Nunavut Water Board
  • Yukon Territory Commissioner

Cabinet ministers

No. Portrait Name Term of office Political party Ministry
Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs
1 Hector Louis Langevin May 22, 1868December 7, 1869 Conservative 1 (Macdonald)
2 Joseph Howe December 8, 1869May 6, 1873 Liberal-Conservative
James Cox Aikins (acting) May 7, 1873June 13, 1873
3 Thomas Nicholson Gibbs June 14, 1873June 30, 1873
4 Alexander Campbell July 1, 1873November 5, 1873 Conservative
5 David Laird November 7, 1873October 6, 1876 Liberal 2 (Mackenzie)
Richard William Scott (acting) October 7, 1876October 23, 1876
6 David Mills October 24, 1876October 8, 1878
7 Sir John A. Macdonald
1st time
October 17, 1878October 2, 1887 Liberal-Conservative 3 (Macdonald)
8 Thomas White October 3, 1887April 21, 1888 Conservative
(7) Sir John A. Macdonald (acting)
2nd time
May 8, 1888September 24, 1888 Liberal-Conservative
9 Edgar Dewdney September 25, 1888June 6, 1891 Conservative
June 16, 1891October 16, 1892 4 (Abbott)
10 Thomas Mayne Daly October 17, 1892November 24, 1892 Liberal-Conservative
December 5, 1892December 12, 1894 5 (Thompson)
December 21, 1894April 27, 1896 6 (Bowell)
11 Hugh John Macdonald May 1, 1896July 8, 1896 Conservative 7 (Tupper)
Richard William Scott (acting) July 17, 1896November 16, 1896 Liberal 8 (Laurier)
12 Clifford Sifton November 17, 1896February 28, 1905
Sir Wilfrid Laurier (acting) March 13, 1905April 7, 1905
13 Frank Oliver April 8, 1905October 6, 1911
14 Robert Rogers October 10, 1911October 28, 1912 Conservative 9 (Borden)
15 William James Roche October 29, 1912October 12, 1917
16 Arthur Meighen October 12, 1917July 10, 1920 Unionist 10 (Borden)
17 Sir James Alexander Lougheed July 10, 1920December 29, 1921 Liberal-Conservative 11 (Meighen)
18 Charles Stewart
1st time
December 29, 1921June 28, 1926 Liberal 12 (Mackenzie King)
Henry Herbert Stevens (acting) June 29, 1926July 12, 1926 Conservative 13 (Meighen)
R. B. Bennett (acting) July 13, 1926September 25, 1926
(18) Charles Stewart
2nd time
September 26, 1926June 26, 1930 Liberal 14 (Mackenzie King)
19 Ian Alistair Mackenzie June 27, 1930August 7, 1930
20 Thomas Gerow Murphy August 7, 1930October 23, 1935 Conservative 15 (Bennett)
21 Thomas Alexander Crerar October 23, 1935November 30, 1936 Liberal 16 (Mackenzie King)
Minister responsible for Indian Affairs (Minister of the Interior, Minister of Mines)
(21) Thomas Alexander Crerar December 1, 1936April 17, 1945 Liberal 16 (Mackenzie King)
22 James Allison Glen April 18, 1945June 10, 1948
23 James Angus MacKinnon June 10, 1948November 15, 1948
November 15, 1948March 31, 1949 17 (St. Laurent)
24 Colin William George Gibson April 1, 1949January 17, 1950
Minister responsible for Indian Affairs (Minister of Citizenship)
25 Walter Edward Harris January 18, 1950June 30, 1954 Liberal 17 (St. Laurent)
26 Jack Pickersgill July 1, 1954June 21, 1957
Davie Fulton (acting) June 21, 1957May 11, 1958 Progressive Conservative 18 (Diefenbaker)
27 Ellen Fairclough May 12, 1958August 8, 1962
28 Dick Bell August 9, 1962April 22, 1963
29 Guy Favreau April 22, 1963February 2, 1964 Liberal 19 (Pearson)
30 René Tremblay February 3, 1964February 14, 1965
31 John Robert Nicholson February 15, 1965December 17, 1965
32 Jean Marchand December 18, 1965September 30, 1966
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
33 Arthur Laing October 1, 1966April 20, 1968 Liberal 19 (Pearson)
April 20, 1968July 5, 1968 20 (P. E. Trudeau)
34 Jean Chrétien July 5, 1968August 7, 1974
35 J. Judd Buchanan August 8, 1974September 13, 1976
36 Warren Allmand September 14, 1976September 15, 1977
37 James Hugh Faulkner September 16, 1977June 3, 1979
38 Jake Epp June 4, 1979March 2, 1980 Progressive Conservative 21 (Clark)
39 John Munro March 3, 1980June 29, 1984 Liberal 22 (P. E. Trudeau)
40 Doug Frith June 30, 1984September 16, 1984 23 (Turner)
41 David Crombie September 17, 1984June 29, 1986 Progressive Conservative 24 (Mulroney)
42 Bill McKnight June 30, 1986January 29, 1989
43 Pierre Cadieux January 30, 1989February 22, 1990
44 Tom Siddon February 23, 1990June 24, 1993
45 Pauline Browes June 25, 1993November 3, 1993 25 (Campbell)
46 Ron Irwin November 4, 1993June 10, 1997 Liberal 26 (Chrétien)
47 Jane Stewart June 11, 1997August 2, 1999
48 Bob Nault August 3, 1999December 11, 2003
49 Andy Mitchell December 12, 2003July 19, 2004 27 (Martin)
50 Andy Scott July 20, 2004February 5, 2006
51 Jim Prentice February 6, 2006August 14, 2007 Conservative 28 (Harper)
52 Chuck Strahl August 14, 2007August 6, 2010
53 John Duncan August 6, 2010May 17, 2011
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
(53) John Duncan May 18, 2011February 15, 2013 Conservative 28 (Harper)
James Moore, (acting) February 15, 2013February 22, 2013
54 Bernard Valcourt February 22, 2013November 3, 2015
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
55 Carolyn Bennett November 4, 2015August 28, 2017 Liberal 29 (J. Trudeau)
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
(55) Carolyn Bennett August 28, 2017July 18, 2018 Liberal 29 (J. Trudeau)
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
(55) Carolyn Bennett July 8, 2018Incumbent Liberal 29 (J. Trudeau)

Prior to 1966, responsibilities for the Indian Affairs portion of this portfolio fell under the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (List), and the Northern Development portion under the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (List).

See also


  1. The First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) is a "shared-governance First Nation public institution that supports First Nation taxation under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act and under section 83 of the Indian Act."
  2. Previous major proposed changes to the Indian Act included the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA) proposed in 2002 and officially abandoned in 2004 as paternalistic with a process that bypassed the elected leadership of First Nations communities.


  1. Marleau, Robert; Montpetit, Camille, eds. (2000). "Parliamentary Institutions". House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. ISBN 2-89461-378-4.
  2. "The Canadian Parliamentary system - Our Procedure - House of Commons". Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  3. "Review of the Responsibilities and Accountabilities of Ministers and Senior Officials" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2019.
  4. "Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances". Library of Parliament. April 11, 2018. Archived from the original on June 1, 2017. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  5. Fife, Robert (August 28, 2017). "Indigenous Affairs department to be restructured in cabinet shuffle". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  6. Curry, Bill (May 18, 2011). "Aboriginal Affairs: A new name with an uncertain meaning". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  7. Canada, Government of Canada; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (2018-10-11). "Mandate: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada" (organizational description). Retrieved 2019-03-10.
  8. "Nation Rebuilding Program Guidelines" (guide). Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNAC). July 5, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  9. Government of Canada. Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. I-6). Justice Canada: Laws. Retrieved on: 2013-10-30.
  10. Treasury Board of Canada. Registry of Applied Titles. Federal Identity Program. Retrieved on: 2013-01-30.
  11. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. . AANDC website. Retrieved on: 2013-01-30.
  12. AADNC (1 October 2012) [2004], Words First: an Evolving Terminology Relating to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, Ottawa, Ontario: AADNC Government of Canada, archived from the original on 14 January 2013, retrieved 20 September 2013CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  13. "Terminology". Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  14. The Impact of the Penner Report Archived 2005-03-06 at the Wayback Machine published in Saskatchewan Indian April/May 1984
  15. Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework (PDF). Assembly of First Nations (AFN) (Report). September 2018. p. 18. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  16. Barrera, Jorge (September 11, 2018). "Battle brewing over Indigenous rights recognition framework". CBC News. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  17. "Government of Canada to create Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework". Prime Minister of Canada. 2018-02-14. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  18. Munson, James (June 4, 2016). "Nation-to-nation relationship taking shape". iPolitics. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  19. "Issue Updates" (PDF), Assembly of First Nations (AFN), p. 72, October 2018, retrieved February 22, 2019
  20. Canada, Government of Canada; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) (July 12, 2018). What we heard so far on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  21. "First Nations Tax Commission". Retrieved March 12, 2019. The First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) is a "shared-governance First Nation public institution that supports First Nation taxation under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act and under section 83 of the Indian Act.
  22. Canada (December 3, 2018). "42nd Parliament, 1st Session". Senate of Canada -. Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  23. Swan, Margaret (February 20, 2002). "First nations seek simple solution". Winnipeg Free Press.
  24. Bill Curry, "Nault concedes Native Bill will die," National Post, 11 October 2003, A1.
  25. Kim Lunman, "Martin scraps bill to change Indian Act after natives staged angry protests," Globe and Mail, 9 January 2004, A8.
  26. "Departments that have been responsible for Northern Affairs". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06.
  27. Acts under Minister Responsibilities