Harper Government Seeking Input on Draft Additions to Reserve Policy

Jul 26, 2013, 13:42 ET from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

OTTAWA, July 26, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today announced that the Government of Canada is responding to calls for a more efficient Additions to Reserve (ATR) process to better allow First Nations to take advantage of economic development opportunities. To improve the ATR process, the government is seeking feedback on proposed revisions to the Policy on Additions to Reserve and Reserve Creation.

"Our Government is taking concrete action to respond to calls from First Nations to accelerate the Additions to Reserve process," said Minister Valcourt. "Expanding the reserve land base is an important mechanism by which First Nations can create conditions for economic development and job creation in their communities."

Revising the 2001 ATR policy addresses the series of recommendations put forward by the Auditor General of Canada in order to improve the process. It also aligns with the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development.

There have been many calls to streamline and accelerate the lengthy ATR process. ATRs are typically lengthy and complex - taking an average of five to seven years to complete. The proposed revisions to the policy would provide clear policy direction for reserve creation, promote consistent assessment, consider the interests of all parties, and streamline the process for reserve creation proposals. Noting in the ATR policy will affect ownership or tenure of reserve lands.

Since 2011, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has been working with the Assembly of First Nations to accelerate the ATR process, beginning with a revision of the 2001 ATR Policy.

Before the new policy is finalized, an online feedback process will take place from July 26 to September 30, 2013. Participants are encouraged to share their perspectives on the policy changes and to suggest improvements. The comments received during the engagement period will be used to inform the final revisions to the policy. A summary of what was heard during the public comment phase will be posted on the website when the revised policy is released. This summary will also describe how the comments were incorporated in the final version of the revised policy.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples for their report, entitled Additions to Reserve: Expediting the Process, that identifies a number of key challenges and makes recommendations for improving the process," added Minister Valcourt.

This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc-aadnc.gc.ca.

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SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada