Time for Fairness for First Nations: SCO Encouraged by Latest Federal Budget

April 16, 2024

“While health, housing, infrastructure, education, and the national emergency of MMIWG2S+ are shared budget priorities, more work needs to be done to safeguard so-called ‘public lands’ for TLE.” – Grand Chief Daniels


ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB —The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is responding to the federal budget called “Fairness for Every Generation,” which was delivered by the Government of Canada on April 16, 2024.

“First Nations have faced many deficits in the area of housing and infrastructure with little investment made in repairing, rebuilding, and funding First Nations homes and communities,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “It is encouraging to see Canada’s commitment to invest $918 million over the next 5 years to address these housing inequities. We hope these budgeted investments are front end loaded and deliver quality projects that meet the housing needs for our member Nations and citizens.”

As there continue to be huge gaps in infrastructure for First Nations, it is essential to see capital investments in schools, water and wastewater systems, and roads on reserve lands.

The Government of Canada announced a new “Public Lands for Homes Plan,” which commits to unlock 250,000 new homes by 2031 on public lands. SCO reminds the government of Treaty Land Entitlement and calls on Canada to prioritize First Nations in accessing land.

“Although this budget provides us with hope, we find this new plan about building new homes on public lands to be quite concerning. First Nations have been waiting for decades to receive the land we are owed by Canada. What I’d like to know is how the government can provide land so quickly for housing, but they have been okay to let First Nations languish as we wait for our Treaty Land Entitlement to be fulfilled,” said Grand Chief Daniels.

SCO also encourages the provincial government to match the federal contribution of $250 million for the transitional housing fund to ensure that our relatives who are experiencing homelessness can access housing. We look forward to continuing to work with Canada and our other Treaty partners to complete SCO’s significant housing projects in downtown Winnipeg.

Canada is investing $1.3 million to co-develop with Indigenous partners, on a priority first phase, a regional Red Dress Alert system. SCO is encouraged by this investment and is also pleased to see the government follow through with its commitment to invest $20 million to search a landfill for the sacred remains of Morgan Harris, Marcedes Myran, and Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe (Buffalo Woman). These investments will further our efforts to end this national emergency, address intergenerational trauma, and gender-based violence that is disproportionately experienced by our relatives. 

“While Canada’s funding commitments to emergency management, climate resiliency, and clean energy are much needed by our Nations, they don’t do enough to capture true environmental reconciliation that encompasses First Nations self-governance and determination,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “The inherent rights of First Nations must extend to the lands and waters to make space for reconnection and stewardship and rectify the devastating environmental impacts of settler colonial systems and governments.”

Education remains a key priority for and within our member Nations. SCO is pleased with the $243 million investment for the next generation of First Nations post-secondary students and the additional $1.4 billion commitment to develop First Nations kindergarten programs. We are also supportive of the new National School Food Program, to ensure all children have the nutrition they need to grow healthy minds and bodies. 

Better health outcomes are another crucial issue for First Nations, with significant and widening life expectancy gaps across Turtle Island. The federal government’s investment of more than $630 million to improve access to mental health and wellness services is welcomed.

“Health continues to be a major priority for citizens of our Nations. SCO is pleased to see the continued investment and support for the health transformation initiatives as First Nations work to deliver health care to our own people, in our own way,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “We applaud the commitment to build and renovate health facilities to support First Nations citizens receiving care closer to home. SCO is pleased to see additional funding to support the mental health of First Nations youth and to combat racism in health care. Overall, we will continue advocating to ensure our Treaty partners are working to provide the best outcomes for SCO member Nations and citizens.”


The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

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Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca