With respect to institutions in particular, the structures and modes of Aboriginal governance are defined according to the classification of communities as established on the basis of anthropological, social, cultural and identity-related criteria into one of three Aboriginal groups recognized by the Constitution. Generally speaking, since close to two-thirds of the Aboriginal population of the 10 provinces are made of up Indians (62.54%), the political and administrative organization of the Aboriginal people of Canada is, in most cases, framed by the provisions of the federal Indian Act. In the case of Indians communities residing in a reserve, the representative authority is the Band Council. Provincial governments do, however, play a role in Indians governance in terms of: 1) defining the terms and conditions pertaining to the delivery of certain public services; and 2) negotiating the terms of development projects on lands inhabited by Indian groups and in relation to which these groups have claimed the recognition of their existing Aboriginal rights. On this point, it is worth noting that Indian groups as well as Métis and Inuit groups account for a sizeable share of the population of rural, outlying and northern area of provinces, which explains the considerable weight attaching to relations between, on the one hand, provincial governments, which have jurisdiction over the development of natural resources on their territory, and, on the other hand, Aboriginal groups whose existing rights have been recognized.
It is also worth pointing out that in certain provinces, and particularly in Alberta and Manitoba, the relative size of Métis populations is close to, though lower than, that of Indian groups. The Métis are, moreover, the Aboriginal group that has, according to the 2006 Census, experienced the strongest population growth. It is also noteworthy to underline the fact that close to seven in 10 Métis inhabited one of the Western provinces.
In comparisons of the demographic weight of the Inuit among the Aboriginal populations of each province, the two provinces in which the Inuit presence is strongest are Newfoundland and Labrador (where the Inuit account for one out of every four Aboriginal persons) and Quebec (10.5%), which is home to the largest population in terms of numbers (10 950 persons). Furthermore, in both these provinces, the Inuit are the main inhabitants of sparsely populated regions, namely, Labrador and Nord-du-Québec. In terms of political and administrative organization, both of these characteristics specific to Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec have facilitated the creation of intrastate institutional entities, called Nunatsiavut in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavik in Quebec.
In 1999, the Labrador Inuit Association, the government of Canada and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed off on an agreement that granted the Inuit a certain degree of self-government as well as a range of local and regional institutions endowed with powers in certain spheres of public action. In 2005, representatives of the Labrador Inuit Association, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the government of Canada gathered in Nain to sign the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement.
The public law institutions framing the collective organization of the Quebec Inuit are set out in agreements that have the same force and effect as treaties. The first such accord, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), was signed in 1975 by the Inuit, the Cree and the governments of Quebec and Canada. In 1999, the Nunavik Commission was instituted under the terms of a Political Accord between representatives of the Makivik Corporation (which manages the compensation funds paid to the Inuit under the terms of the JBNQA) and the governments of Quebec and Canada. This commission was charged with making recommendations concerning a form of self-government responsible for managing the entire territory of Nunavik (the Inuit name for the territory of Quebec located north of the 55th parallel), 90% of whose population are Inuit. The Political Accord was then followed in 2003 by a Framework Agreement, under which negotiations were launched with a view to gradually implementing self-government.
DUPUIS, Renée (1991). La question indienne au Canada, Louiseville, Collection Boréal Express.