Key Terms and Definitions from Cash Back

# - D


10-Year Grants
A funding agreement that addresses the spending flexibility for First Nations.

Stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. 


Alimentary infrastructure
Infrastructure that is life-giving in its design, finance, and effects.  Coined by Winona LaDuke and Deborah Cowen.

Auditor General of Canada (AGC)
An officer of the Parliament of Canada responsible for conducting financial audits of the federal government's operations.

A set of political policies that aim to reduce government spending by spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of the two.


An acronym for Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. 

Buffalo Jump
The “buffalo jump” refers to a hunting technique practiced in the prairies for thousands of years that required hunters to chase buffalo off a cliff. The “Buffalo Jump of the 1980’s” is the nickname for the shift that occurred when the Conservatives took power in 1984 and interpreted demands for Indigenous self-government as an opportunity to transfer federal obligations onto First Nations, provinces, and territories once and for all. 


Colonization companies
These were companies that bought land at discounted rates from Canada in exchange for building bridges and roads that would promote immigration and settlement. 

Commercial right
The right to sell or trade a good.

Refers to a policy for Indigenous Government and Indian Band funding levels or levels of service that is meant to ensure comparable funding with provinces and territories. 

Something of value given in recognition of a wrong done.

The process of collecting interest on all accumulated interest from all previous deposits. It’s essentially the interest of interest. Or in regular use, it just means when issues get piled on top of each other.

Consolidated Financial Statement
Financial statements of a group that report on all the income, assets, and expenses of the group, including where the funds are coming from and how they are distributed. A consolidated financial statement aims to provide a transparent account of the group's finances. 

Contribution Agreements
Legal documents that lay out the conditions of financial transfers from the federal government.

Critical Indigenous education
By learning and practicing Indigenous culture and knowing the history of systemic injustices, Indigenous individuals can better navigate colonial oppression.


De facto
Describes practices that happen in real life, rather than just possibly happening. De facto is interchangeable with “in reality.”

Default Prevention and Management Policy (DPMP)
A policy that is supposed to build capacity and support for First Nations that have fallen into debt. It contains three stages of intervention, with Third-Party Management being the most extreme. However, the DPMP has a poor record of effectively managing Band funds and remediated debt and can have a harmful impact on First Nations.

The process of passing off responsibilities from higher levels of government to local ones. The government of Canada’s devolution (or dumping) of its responsibilities to First Nations — such as healthcare, housing, and education —  became the norm in the ‘80s–‘90s under the guise of “self-government.” But the financial resources were never transferred alongside the responsibilities.

Direct funding transfer
A process that would streamline funding and give Bands control over their finances. First Nations have long advocated for direct funding transfers from the Treasury Board of Canada, which would remove the Department of Indian Affairs as middle-managers of these funds.

Doctrine of Discovery
A legal framework that justified Euro-Christian imperialism. A series of statements from the Pope formed the Doctrine, which claimed all non-believers in Christ were subordinate. It is a racist belief related to the concept of terra nullius (see below). Canada and other settler-colonial states each developed their own versions of the Doctrine in order to justify their claims over Indigenous lands.

Dominion Lands Act
An act passed in 1872 that established the legal framework for massive land give-aways in Canada without the consent or benefit of the Indigenous nations who occupied and governed these lands. Canada sold Indigenous lands to individual homesteaders, the HBC, railway companies, municipalities, and religious groups. Between 1870–1930, through the Dominion Lands Act, hundreds of thousands of people came to settle in the prairies as 1.25 million homesteads were made available on the homelands of the Cree, Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy), Nakoda Oyadebi (Assiniboine), Dene, and other nations.

E - L


In English, “economy” refers to the wealth and resources of a region. But “economics” originally comes from the combination of the two Greek words for “home” and “accounts,” which is not so different from Indigenous conceptions. Indigenous economies are grounded in, defined, and held accountable by  social, political, and ecological relationships. As Stó:lō economist Dara Kelly and scholar Christine Woods describe, an Indigenous economy is one that protects the well-being of the people, the culture, and its worldviews. 

Epistemic oppression
An injustice that refers to the denial and devaluing of a group’s worldviews, histories, and politics. For example, some Indigenous people do not have access to traditional knowledge and ways of being, or their philosophies are denied legitimacy due to assimilation policies. This kind of oppression has severe impacts on well-being.

Ways of knowing and understanding. 


Fiduciary duty
The federal government’s financial responsibility to Indigenous people resulting from treaties and Constitutional obligations.

First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA)
Implemented in 2013 by the Harper administration, this Act required Bands to post their consolidated financial audit online for the country to scrutinize or they would be refused funding. Many have criticized this as an act of public shaming. 

Refers to government taxes and spending.

Fiscal Warfare
Using economics/money as a weapon of domination and control. From starvation policies and rations to current fiscal relationships, the government’s fiscal policies create and maintain poverty. 


Hawthorn Report
Released in 1967, the Hawthorn Report recognized that misguided government policies were putting First Nation communities at a disadvantage. It advocated for provinces to provide new social programs and services until each First Nation individual was integrated into Canadian society.

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC)
In 1670, The Hudson’s Bay Company was gifted a royal charter from the King to a group of investors  to secure land for England in the “New World.” The company established a monopoly on the fur trade through 97 trading posts scattered across the Hudson’s Bay drainage basin and, eventually, the North-West Territories. In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company sold to Canada the land of the Cree, Métis, Inuit, Innu, Dene, Gwich'in, Ojicree, and other nations that lived there for thousands of years. This transaction violated the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and is perhaps the single largest land grab in the world.


Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs): Negotiated agreements between Indigenous people and, most often, a company, to provide benefits to communities in exchange for negative impacts on Aboriginal rights or traditional territory.

Indian Act
A Canadian federal law that governs the “Indians” of Canada. Introduced in 1876 and regularly amended since then, it contains provisions on all aspects of First Nation life, including Indian status, Band Council elections, and reserves. Also important to note that the Indian Act does not specifically refer to non-status Indians, Metis, or Inuit people.

Indian Trust
A fund established by the Crown to hold the revenues of land sales from “Indians” to the Crown.

Indigenous Self-Government Agreements
These formal agreements, ratified through legislation, facilitate the transition from Indian Bands to Self-Government entities. A transfer of power over the administration of Indigenous lands, territories, and resources from settler governments to Indigenous peoples, these agreements lay out the terms of jurisdiction by which Indigenous governments can govern their people.

A framework for understanding a person, group, or social occurrence where social and political identities are accounted for in understanding systems of discrimination and privilege. Factors like gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, etc., are considered alongside each other to describe the unique experiences that are produced by overlapping oppressions. 


Jordan’s Principle
According to the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society: 

Jordan’s Principle is a child first principle named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. Jordan was a First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. Born with complex medical needs, Jordan spent more than two years unnecessarily in hospital while the province of Manitoba and the federal government argued over who should pay for his at home care. Jordan died in the hospital at the age of five years old, never having spent a day in a family home.

Jordan’s Principle ensures that First Nations children can access the services they need, when they need them. Services are provided on the basis of substantive equality, which includes providing culturally based services that take into full account the historical and contemporary disadvantage that many First Nations children live with. When services are requested, the government of first contact pays for the service and can resolve any jurisdictional or payment disputes later.

The power to make legal decisions and judgements over a particular place.


An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender, Queer or Questioning, Two-Spirit, and more.

N - Z


North-West Mounted Police (NWMP)
An army raised in 1873, the North-West Mounted Police (renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920) were a paramilitary police organization that enforced Indigenous land removal and exercised the control required to enable settlers to take Indian lands. 


Own-Source Revenue
Income obtained by First Nations communities outside of funding from Indigenous Affairs and other government agencies. 


Pass system
Introduced to ensure strict control over the Cree, Blackfoot Confederacy, Métis, and other prairie nations who were organizing resistance to the treaties and Canada’s assertion of sovereignty over their lands, the pass system was used by the RCMP and Indian agents to enforce restrictions on Indigenous people leaving or returning to their reserve by requiring them to obtain passes.

People in positions of authority making decisions for or restricting the freedoms of those subordinate to them — supposedly, in the subordinate’s interest. 


Taking back something or reasserting a right.  

Avenues to improve the situation. 

Remedying or setting something right.

Resource revenue sharing
The distribution of government or company revenues to communities affected by developments in their territory.

Returning something that was lost or stolen. 

Royal Charter
A formal grant issued by a monarch that grants rights and powers to an individual or a body corporate in the form of  “letters patent.” 

Rupert’s Land: A vast territory claimed by  the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), in 1670 and subsequently sold to Canada in 1869. The territory covered the entire Hudson’s Bay drainage basin. In 1821, the Northwest Company merged with the HBC, expanding the territory further west. Rupert’s Land was never purchased, treatied, or negotiated from any Indigenous nations. From the perspective of Indigenous law, it never belonged to HBC, which invalidates Canada’s purchase.


Salvage ethnography
The academic field of studying Indigenous people as though they were about to go extinct. It was preoccupied with preserving their dying cultures.

Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
A clause that recognizes First Nation, Métis and Inuit rights. It states, “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”

Refers to the 1995 “Inherent Right to Self-Government” federal policy. It also refers to Indigenous demands to govern their own nations and communities, which can differ significantly from federal policy parameters.

Settler colonial capitalism
The economic system that was created and is maintained by settler colonialism. It is characterized by the genocide, assimilation, and dispossession of Indigenous people and the exploitation of land and labour to reproduce its own power. 

Slow violence
A brutality that occurs gradually and seemingly out of sight. Slow violence is committed against the natural world (humans included) over long periods of time, and it is often normalized or framed as necessary. Due to its staggered nature, this violence does not provoke the political outrage that is necessary to end it. 

Specific Claims Tribunal
A decision-making body composed of superior court judges created to determine the validity of Indigenous peoples’ land grievances. According to Canada, specific claims can include “alleged breaches of treaties, fraud, illegal dispositions, or inadequate compensation, related to reserve lands.”

Since the Indian Act was passed in 1876, the government of Canada has controlled the criteria for who is legally defined as an Indigenous person (or “status Indian”), which essentially limits the amount of people that they have a responsibility towards. 


Terra nullius
Latin for “land belonging to no one,” it is a term that depicts Indigenous land occupation as savage, uncivilized, and lacking a sense of territory and system of governance, therefore, considered barren of human life and free to be claimed.

Third-Party Management
A policy that removes Band control of their finances if they go into debt. It has gone through multiple iterations since 2011 and is now found under the DPMP.

Treaty Annuities
The annual payment assured to descendents of a First Nation that made treaty with the Crown or Canada or Band member of First Nation signatory. Treaty annuities did not increase with inflation or reflect the value of lands taken.

Two percent cap 
In 1995, Finance Minister Paul Martin delivered a budget that put a cap on increases to spending on First Nations reserves for education, health, and social services. First Nations could not keep up with inflation, let alone rising costs associated with growing populations and basic needs and services.


White Paper
A policy paper in 1969 that proposed the termination of the special legal relationship between First Nations and the Canadian state. It advocated for the dismantling of the Indian Act and ending the reserve system. This white paper was met with forceful opposition from Aboriginal leaders across the country and sparked a new era of Indigenous political organizing in Canada.