First Nations Land Management Regime

The First Nations 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 is a 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.

Economic Action Plan 2013

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 67 First Nations operating or developing land codes under the First Nations Land Management Regime, (see chart).

Background

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

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.

Opting into the FNLM Regime

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.

Sequence of Events for Opting into the FNLM Regime

  • First Nations that express interest to opt into the FNLM regime must submit a Band Council Resolution to the Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre.
  • The Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre makes a presentation to the First Nation about the Regime.
  • If the First Nation is still interested, they complete an Assessment Questionnaire (HTML | Fill & Print   (153 Kb)) and return it to the applicable AANDC Regional Office.
  • Upon a positive assessment, a recommendation is made to the Minister of AANDC to add the First Nation to the Framework Agreement via an adhesion document.
  • Once the adhesion document is signed by the Minister and the First Nation, the First Nation is added to the Schedule of the First Nations Land Management Act.
  • The First Nation is then required to enter into the Community Approval Process Plan and develop a land code and negotiate their individual agreement with AANDC.
  • Upon the First Nation community ratification of the land code and Individual Agreement, the administration and control over the First Nation's land and resources is transferred from AANDC to the First Nation.
  • At that point, 34 sections under the Indian Act   dealing with land, resources and environment no longer apply to the First Nation.
  • Following ratification of their land code, the First Nation is required to enact environmental assessment and protection laws.
  • Within twelve months after the effective date of the land code, the First Nation is obligated to develop and enact matrimonial real property laws.

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