VANCOUVER, Sept. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Today the Government of Canada announced that 28 more First Nations will begin unlocking the economic potential of First Nation land by getting out from under the land-related sections of the Indian Act to assume greater control over their reserve land and resources. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, along with Chief Robert Louie, Chair of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board (LAB) and Chief Austin Bear, Chair of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre Inc.
"Our Government is committed to working with interested First Nations to create jobs and economic opportunities and the First Nations Land Management Regime continues to be a proven and successful tool of economic development," said Minister Valcourt. "We will continue to work with interested First Nations across Canada to enable the development of their lands and resources, ensuring the conditions for strong, self-sufficient and prosperous communities."
Economic Action Plan 2013 committed $9 million over two years for the expansion of the FNLM Regime to create opportunities for more First Nations to promote greater economic development on reserves. Today's announcement makes it clear the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to provide the opportunity for more First Nations to pursue participation in the FNLM regime.
Chief Robert Louie responded to the announcement by stating that "Minister Valcourt has reiterated to me on several occasions that Canada is committed to adding more signatories to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management. Canada has once again delivered on its promise." Chief Louie referenced some noteworthy statistics as further proof of Canada's commitment. "In 1996 there were only 14 signatories to the Framework Agreement. With this announcement today by the Minister, there will be a total of 110 signatories - an astounding representation of the success of the FNLM. One of the unique factors is the timing. Within only a two year period, First Nations can opt out of the land related provisions of the Indian Act and resume jurisdiction over their reserve lands and natural resources."
Chief Austin Bear added that "the inclusion of Mistawasis and Yellow Quill First Nations now means that all seven members of the Saskatoon Tribal Council will be signatories to the Framework Agreement. None of our Chiefs at the table will suffer any longer from the impediments of the Indian Act. We have been waiting many years for this moment so that we can plan joint economic ventures with the participation of all seven communities."
The FNLM regime enables First Nations to manage their own land, resources and environment according their own land codes, laws and policies. The new regime also helps First Nations get out from under 34 land-related limitations of the Indian Act in order to take control of their land and resources. The new First Nations entrants include:
New Brunswick: Madawaska
Quebec: Abénakis de Wôlinak
Ontario: Chippewas of the Thames, Long Lake, M'Chigeeng, Magnetawan, Temagami and Wasauksing
Manitoba: Fisher River, Nisichawayasihk (Nelson House), Norway House and Sagkeeng (Fort Alexander)
Saskatchewan: English River, Mistawasis and Yellow Quill
British Columbia: ?akisq'nuk, Chawathil, Homalco, Katzie, K'omoks, Lower Nicola, Malahat, Metlakatla, Nak'azdli and Tahltan. There is also one aggregated group of BC First Nation communities - Cheam, Scowlitz and Soowahlie.
The next step in the process for these communities is to sign on to the FNLM Framework Agreement. The communities must then develop their own land codes and have them approved by their membership through community ratification votes in order to become operational under the FNLM Regime. Once approved, these communities would join the 67 other First Nation communities active in the FNLM Regime that are currently operating under or developing their own land codes.
Improving economic opportunities for Aboriginal people is a priority for the Government of Canada. In June 2009, the Harper Government released the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, which represents a fundamental change to how the federal government supports Aboriginal economic development. The Framework emphasizes strengthening entrepreneurship, enhancing the value of Aboriginal assets, and forging new and effective partnerships to maximize the economic development potential of Aboriginal people in Canada.
SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada