Check against delivery
Thank you very much (emcee); it's an honour for me to join you on traditional Algonquin territory for this morning's celebration. (Acknowledge other VIPs, dignitaries…)
I'd like to welcome all the Chiefs from new signatory First Nations who have travelled here today. And I'd especially like to recognize Chief Robert Louie, Chair of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board, and Chief Austin Bear, Chair of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre Inc. Your vision, commitment, and collaboration have helped to make this day possible.
On January 23rd, our government announced the names of 18 First Nations selected to join the First Nations Land Management Regime, allowing them to assume greater control over their reserve lands and resources. More important, it allows them greater control over their future.
Today's ceremony officially welcomes these First Nations as they become a part of the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management.
These new entrants come from across the country, including from the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Today's announcement brings to fifty-six the number of First Nations operating or developing land laws under the First Nations Land Management Act.
Participating First Nations can now begin developing their own land laws, enabling them to pursue economic opportunities, to create jobs and more self-sufficient communities free of some of the limitations of the Indian Act. The First Nations Land Management Regime has proven its capacity to help foster economic development opportunities for First Nations.
Your participation in the regime will create these opportunities for your communities and allow them to operate at the speed of business today.
At the Crown-First Nations Gathering in January, our Government committed to working together to build on the steps we have already taken to accelerate economic development opportunities for First Nations.
We developed a new Operational Funding Formula in collaboration with the First Nation Land Advisory Board, and developed an application process for identifying First Nations with the greatest potential to benefit from the economic development opportunities associated with the Regime.
The modernization of lands management regimes is just one important element of unlocking the potential that lands and natural resources present. It also frees First Nations from the limitations imposed by the Indian Act while still respecting the unique needs of First Nations peoples.
I want to thank Chief Louie and the other members of the Board for their partnership. Together, we have taken another significant step toward realizing our shared vision of a future in which First Nations are managing their own affairs and are recognized for the strength and value of their contributions to this great country.