Program Review

Indigenous Program Review took place over two phases

Between June 2017 and March 2019, the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute reviewed the programs at Fisheries and Oceans Canada which support Indigenous involvement in collaborative management of fisheries, aquatic resources, oceans, and habitat – and Indigenous participation in commercial fishing and aquaculture operations.

These programs are:

We also engaged eligible participants in the development of a new Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative that would meet their commercial fishery and aquaculture needs and aspirations.

Indigenous Program Review was a technical examination of the function and evolution of each program to see what might need to change or be improved in order to maximize the benefits to Indigenous Peoples and communities across Canada.

To start, we reviewed evaluations, audits, proposals and practises internal to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as program-related external reports. We also looked at other federal government programs with interconnected objectives or agendas. We called this part of our work a ‘desktop review.’

Based on the desktop review, we identified and discussed some common themes and issues based on our experience in fisheries and aquatic resource management. We also talked with national and regional officials at Fisheries and Oceans Canada who are responsible for administering these programs.

And, then, we reached out to hear from you.

We did this in a number of ways. First, we prepared a series of discussion papers with questions for you to consider answering. Each paper described the program under review and was followed by a summary of our desktop review findings, the results of our discussions, and the input of departmental officials. There was also a separate paper which examines access to capital issues and solutions. These papers were posted on this website and provided to Indigenous groups and communities through our organizations and those of governments and other partners.

Second, we met face-to-face with Indigenous communities and groups across Canada in program-specific workshops and various engagement sessions over two phases. This includes across Canada’s North.

Third, we kept multiple channels of communication open for Indigenous peoples, communities and groups to feel welcome to share their views, to be able to ask questions, and to engage us in the future direction of their fisheries and oceans programs. This includes social media (Facebook and Twitter), email, telephone and postal mail.


Your advice is guiding the implementation of Indigenous Program Review. 

We appreciate all of the time and effort that program participants and community leaders exerted to inform this review and to guide our conclusions. Your views about how these programs need to change shaped the recommendations in our reports which explain how the Department should improve its programs and accelerate success. This includes by:

  • taking practical steps to make the administration of programs more efficient
  • igniting a culture change across all regions and sectors by approaching program renewal through the lens of truth and reconciliation – and the long-term goal of a balanced relationship between the Government of Canada and Indigenous Nations
  • reconciling resource management by recognizing the co-management capacity of Indigenous peoples and their jurisdiction and authority over territorial resources

We also value the collaborative relationship that further developed with Fisheries and Oceans Canada through this review.

Indigenous peoples are equal partners in the management and use of fisheries, aquaculture, oceans, habitat and aquatic resources. It is important that Indigenous people, communities, groups and organizations use every opportunity to set the direction of federal programs which involve First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

This was one of those opportunities – and more will come as a result

We look forward to your ongoing support and participation in our work as the implementation of Indigenous Program Review continues and program review fully shifts to program renewal.

Members of the Board of the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute.