In 2001, the Quebec government, the federal government, and the Cree Nation signed “La Paix des Braves” (The Peace of the Braves, a reference to the 1701 peace treaty between the French and the Iroquois League). The agreement allowed Hydro-Québec to exploit the province’s hydroelectric resources in exchange for an allocation of $3.5 billion to be given to the government of the Cree Nation. Later, the Inuit of northern Quebec (Nunavik) joined in the agreement.
In 2005, the leaders of the First Nations, various provincial governments, and the federal government produced an agreement called the Kelowna Accord, which would have yielded $5 billion over 10 years, but the new federal government of Stephen Harper (2006) did not follow through on the working paper.
First Nations, along with the Métis and the Inuit, have claimed to receive inadequate funding for education, and allege their rights have been overlooked. James Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, listed the encouragement of indigenous young people as one of his key priorities. During his term that began in 2002, he has launched initiatives to promote literacy and bridge building. Bartleman himself is the first Aboriginal person to hold the Lieutenant Governor’s position in Ontario.
As of 2006, over 75 First Nations communities exist in boil-water advisory conditions. In late 2005, the drinking water crisis of the Kashechewan First Nation received national media attention when E. coli was discovered in their water supply system, following two years of living under a boil-water advisory. The drinking water was supplied by a new treatment plant built in March 1998. The cause of the tainted water was a plugged chlorine injector that was not discovered by local operators, who were not qualified to be running the treatment plant. When officials arrived and fixed the problem, chlorine levels were around 1.7 mg/l, which was blamed for chronic skin disorders such as impetigo and scabies. An investigation led by Health Canada revealed that the skin disorders were likely due to living in squalor. The evacuation of Kashechewan is largely viewed by Canadians as a cry for help for other underlying social and economic issues which Aboriginal people in Canada face.
On June 29, 2007, Canadian Aboriginal groups held countrywide protests aimed at ending First Nations poverty, dubbed the Aboriginal Day of Action. The demonstrations were largely peaceful, although groups disrupted transportation with blockades or bonfires; a stretch of the Highway 401 was shut down, as was the Canadian National Railway’s line between Toronto and Montreal.