The First Nation Land Management regime (the Regime) enables the development of First Nation laws to manage reserve land, resources and environment under a land code established by a First Nation within the Regime. This allows participating First Nations to opt out of the land-related sections of the Indian Act and enact their own laws taking into consideration the development, conservation, use and possession of reserve lands.
These laws may also enable communities to seize new economic development opportunities. The Regime provides an alternative to the land provisions of the Indian Act, which accelerates First Nations' ability to manage their lands more effectively and efficiently than under the Indian Act thus making the land more competitive for investment.
The Regime isa sectoral self-government arrangement which replaces the sections of the Indian Act dealing with land, resources and environment. The First Nations Land Management regime is a practical step toward self-government. It increases First Nations authority and responsibility for land management. It also gives First Nations control over environmental management on reserve.
The Government of Canada is committed to unlocking the economic potential of First Nations. To that end, Economic Action Plan 2013 included new investments in the First Nations Land Management Regime, which will provide even more First Nations with the opportunity to enact their own laws for the development, conservation, use and possession of reserve lands. This investment of $9 million over two years is for the expansion of the First Nations Land Management Regime to create further opportunities for economic development on reserve.
Presently, there are 69 First Nations operating or developing land codes under the First Nations Land Management Regime, (see chart).
In 1991, a group of First Nation Chiefs approached AANDC with a proposal to allow First Nations to opt out of the Indian Act provisions dealing with land and resources. These discussions resulted in The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (Framework Agreement), signed by Canada and 14 First Nations in 1996. The First Nations Land Management Act which received Royal Assent on June 17, 1999, ratified and gave effect to the Framework Agreement. The First Nations who signed the Framework Agreement established a Lands Advisory Board and a Resource Centre to assist them in implementing their own land management regimes.
Amendments to the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA) received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012, as part of the legislation to implement the Economic Action Plan 2012 , the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act.
The amendments to the FNLMA are intended to address shortcomings identified as a result of the experience gained by First Nations in the Regime and were supported by the 35 First Nations who currently have land codes in force.
The four key amendments strengthen the regime by: expediting the processes to enact environmental laws, excluding land from a land code when it is uncertain whether the particular land forms part of the reserve, removing uncertainty as to the date the land codes come into force, and bringing clarity to the schedule of the Act.
Taken together, the amendments remove identified legislative barriers that prevented or delayed First Nations from taking full advantage of the benefits of assuming land management responsibility under the FNLMA.
Participating First Nations are provided with funding to develop a land code, negotiate an individual agreement and hold a ratification vote in the community. These activities are laid out in a Community Approval Process Plan and this phase of activity is commonly referred to as the developmental phase. If the vote is successful, the First Nations move from the developmental phase into the operational phase of the Regime. Operational First Nations manage their own reserve lands under their own land codes, are no longer bound by thirty-four land management sections of the Indian Act, and receive funding for their land management costs.