OTTAWA, Dec. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Today the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, accompanied by Chief Robert Louie of the First Nations Land Advisory Board and Chief Austin Bear of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre Inc. welcomed nine more First Nations into the First Nations Land Management Regime. By signing the Framework Agreement, these First Nation communities can now begin the process of opting out of 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over their reserve land and resources.
"Our Government is committed to working with interested First Nations like those represented here today to create jobs and economic opportunities and also to achieve reconciliation between Canada and First Nations," said Minister Valcourt. "The First Nations Land Management Regime continues to be a proven and successful tool of economic development and reconciliation. We will continue to work with interested First Nations 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. The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to provide the opportunity for more First Nations to pursue participation in the FNLM regime, building on the 28 entrants announced in September.
In a statement regarding the most recent signing ceremony, Chief Louie expressed that "This signing is absolutely wonderful. Adding more First Nations into Land Management will help propel much needed economic prosperity capabilities into the lives and communities of First Nations. Beneficiaries will include Canada, regional and local communities, and individual First Nation communities right across the country."
Chief Austin Bear spoke to the importance of this moment for the 28 new entrants. "The Framework Agreement provides a better future for our communities. It is a catalyst to self‐sufficiency, state of the art infrastructure, and governance models driven by our values and traditional ways." He added, "As a result of this historical and necessary initiative, First Nations working under their land codes are experiencing a profound increase of community involvement, pride, and the strengthening of our cultural identities. I commend Canada and Minister Valcourt on their continued support of the First Nations here today. In 1996 there were 14 signatory First Nations; soon there will be 110 communities once the 28 new entrants have signed their adhesion documents. However, our goal continues. Chief Louie and I will continue to work towards seeing all First Nations given the opportunity to opt out of the Indian Act and resume jurisdiction over reserve lands and resources."
The FNLM regime enables First Nations to manage their own land, resources and environment according to their own land codes, laws and policies. The 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 signing on to the Framework Agreement include:
The next step in the process for these communities is to 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 66 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 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.
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SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada