Changes to legislation ensure First Nations have greater access to lands and opportunities for economic development

From: Indigenous Services Canada

Changes to legislation ensure First Nations have greater access to lands and opportunities for economic development

News release

December 13, 2018 — Ottawa, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The approval of Bill C-86 brings important changes to the First Nations Land Management Act, which follows the changes made to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management, and the Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation process.

First Nation Land Management

In 1996, Canada and 14 First Nation Chiefs signed the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management to establish the option for First Nations to govern their lands outside of the Indian Act. The Framework Agreement was ratified through the First Nations Lands Management Act in 1999. Together the Framework Agreement and the opt-in legislation provide signatory First Nations with the recognized authority to make laws in relation to their lands, including its resources and environment. These amendments to the Framework Agreement and the Act are expected to facilitate an additional 50 First Nations in becoming signatories to the Framework Agreement over the next five years, as announced in Budget 2018.

New to the Framework Agreement and the Act:

  • First piece of federal legislation enacted to reference Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
  • First Nations with land codes in force now have greater control of their monies when their land code comes into force;
  • First Nations with land codes in force can enter into agreements with other First Nations to govern jointly held reserves;
  • Employees of First Nations with land codes in force now have protections in legislation, such as limiting personal liability in the conduct of their duties; and
  • First Nations communities have greater control over the voting process to approve their land code

Additions to Reserve / Reserve Creation

This new legislation facilitates the setting apart of lands as reserves for the use and benefit of First Nations and the addition of land to reserves.

Under the new legislation:

  • All First Nations will have access to the same procedural tools currently available in the Prairie Provinces in order to streamline the process for all types of Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation proposals.
  • All Additions to Reserve will now be approved by Ministerial Order rather than by Governor in Council, which will result in more timely decisions;
  • All First Nations will have the option designate or zone the land prior to transfer and facilitate the resolution of third-party interests, through the issuance of leases or permits, prior to the lands being added. This will increase viable economic development opportunities in First Nations communities.
  • Procedural tools will be available to First Nations communities for greater control over the voting process to approve their land code.

“Our government will continue to work in partnership with First Nations to improve processes and supports that provide access to lands and economic development opportunities. I am pleased to see the Royal Assent of Bill C-86 which brings changes and improvements to the First Nations Land Management Act and the Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation process.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Indigenous Services

“Today marks an important step on our shared journey toward reconciliation and advancing the right to self-determination of First Nations. Communities will be better able to map their way to a brighter future, based on their needs and priorities”.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“We are pleased that another important step forward has been made for First Nation advancement of our inherent rights in the governance of our lands as well as being first for the expression of our joint commitment to UNDRIP. This is another historic and ground-breaking achievement in our 22 year partnership with Canada.”

Robert Louie

Chairman, Lands Advisory Board

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“This is the 6th successful amendment to the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management and the FNLMA. The Framework Agreement continues to be a rewarding option for First Nations interested in replacing the Indian Act lands provisions with their own recognized governance jurisdiction.”

Chief Austin Bear

Chair, First Nations Land Management Resource Centre

Quick facts

  • There are currently 150 signatories to the First Nations Land Management Act and the Government has committed extra resources, through Budget 2018, to increase this number by 50 within the next five years.

  • Since 2015, 256 additions to reserve were approved, adding over 170,000 acres to reserve.

  • Approximately 3.2% of Canada’s landscape is dedicated reserve-land.

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