Frequently Asked Questions - Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property

Q.1. What is the role of the Centre of Excellence?

A.1. The Government created the Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property to assist with the implementation of the Family Homes on Reserves or Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act (the Act). The First Nation law-making authority in the Act, came into force on December 16, 2013. The Centre Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property is established within the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association, an existing First Nation organization that operates at arm's length from the Government of Canada.

This resource centre became operational as of November 20, 2013 and is able to assist with the understanding and application of the new Act, by helping to guide First Nations who are opting to develop their own matrimonial real property laws under the Act. Also, the Centre provides information on the protections and rights available to individuals and families living on reserves in the Act’s provisional federal rules. The Centre also provides research on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

The Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property is a central resource for information, tools, communication and research activities to assist First Nation communities and organizations in the application of the new legislation and in understanding policy and program implications of the new legislation. In addition, as the designated organization, the Centre of Excellence is the repository for receiving copies of approved First Nations laws enacted under the Act, as well as notices of amendments and repeal of those laws.

Q.2. What are the responsibilities undertaken by the Centre of Excellence?

A.2. The main responsibilities of the Centre are:

  • Develop, publish and distribute a variety of information publications and tools for stakeholders, such as: manuals on matrimonial real property on reserve land, models, frameworks, property-related alternate dispute resolution processes, community consultations, training and ratification;
  • Implement activities to assist First Nation communities and organizations in applying the legislation and understanding its implications. This includes the creation and operation of a website;
  • Conduct research activities on, for example, family violence or alternative dispute resolution; and
  • Support an advisory committee that will provide non-binding advice.

Q.3. How was the Centre of Excellence selected?

A.3. The Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property is the designated organization for the requirements in the Act and was created in a manner that is cost effective, neutral, accountable and timely. An existing national First Nation organization, the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association was selected through a call for proposals process posted on the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) website to host the Centre of Excellence.

An Assessment Committee, following the criteria established in the call for proposals, made a recommendation to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development who selected the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association as the host organization.

The National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association's extensive experience and connection to reserve land issues makes the organization the ideal host to support First Nations in implementing the matrimonial real property legislation.

An Advisory Committee to the Centre of Excellence has been established  to provide non-binding guidance on implementation activities. The Advisory Committee comprises representatives from AANDC, Aboriginal organizations, non-governmental organizations and the Centre of Excellence.

Q.4. What is the budget of the Centre of Excellence?

A.4. AANDC is contributing $4,832,000.00 over a period of five years towards the Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property. This amount will be distributed as follows: $529,200 in the first year, $1,150,700 in the second year and $1,050,700 for the following three years.

Q.5. How long will the Centre of Excellence be in operation?

A.5. The Centre of Excellence should be in operation for the duration of the Matrimonial Real Property Implementation Support Program for the legislation which is expected to be for a period of five years. A program review in the fourth year will provide further insight into ongoing requirements for the Centre.

Q.6. Why create a Centre of Excellence instead of providing funding directly to First Nations interested in establishing their own matrimonial real property laws?

A.6. The Government of Canada is supporting First Nations in the development of their own matrimonial real property laws by creating a Centre of Excellence. This will maximize cost-effectiveness.

In addition, the Centre of Excellence is in a better position to synthesize and broadly distribute knowledge on the legislation to assist First Nations in development of their own First Nation matrimonial real property laws and/or understand and implement the provisional federal rules in the Act, accumulate best practices, publish and distribute compilation of models and frameworks for matrimonial real property on reserve laws

The Centre Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property, operated at arm's length from the Government of Canada, is better positioned to assist with the understanding and application of the new Act, by helping to guide First Nations who are opting to develop their own matrimonial real property laws. The Centre will provide information on the protections and rights available to individuals and families living on reserves, as well as the provisional federal rules. The Centre will also provide research on alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.