Regaining Independence: Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the First Nation Land Management Act

Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, located in Manitoba, is one of many First Nations in Canada that are signatory to the First Nation Land Management Act (FNLMA). First Nation Land Management provides an opportunity for First Nations to opt out of land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume jurisdiction over their reserve lands and resources under their own land code. The FNLM significantly improves the efficiency and level of economic development opportunities for the signatory First Nation.

Brokenhead Ojibway Nation is operational under the FNLM and the following video profiles their journey on becoming signatory and regaining independence over land management within their own community.

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Transcript for: Regaining Independence: Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and the First Nation Land Management Act

Chief Jim Bear:

Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, or BON, is in Southern Manitoba and it is located about 70 kilometers Northeast of Winnipeg.

BON has approximately 1900 citizens…of that there's approximately 700 citizens who reside in the community…

The Brokenhead Ojibway Nation signed onto the First Nations Land Management Act, in 2013, and on December 2014 we ratified the vote.

Narrator:

The First Nations Land Management Act, or FNLMA is a Federal law enacted in 1999.

It originated out of First Nations wanting to take control of their land and resources.

All First Nations in Canada have the option to become signatory to the FNLMA.

The FNLMA enables signatories to opt out of 34 sections of the Indian Act that are related to land management provisions.

While the land remains with the Crown, the First Nations regain jurisdiction to manage their own land and natural resources.

Gord Bluesky:

The First Nation Lands Management Act has two phases… …the first phase is to develop our Land Code which outlines the rules as it applies to Brokenhead …

So through our developmental phase of the First Nation Lands Management Act we've had specific partnerships with the University of Manitoba… the Land Advisory Board Resource Centre…we've also had specific First Nations assist us.

Gord Bluesky:

…and then from that Land Code once the community has consulted on it…and then the final draft is developed…we then go into the ratification process

Lorie Thompson:

In terms of involving the community, there were several meetings and the Code was gone through right from start to finish...word by word…and lots of feedback … lots of revisions … elder participation, youth participation…

Gord:

The Land Code was passed by the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation…

…which allowed us to then develop laws…

…so the phase two which we are in right now which is what they call Operational…

...So now we are developing the Lands Authority and from that Lands Authority we will be developing laws, regulations and policy as it applies to Brokenhead Lands.

Lorie Thompson:

Under the First Nations Land Management Act what a First Nation is required to do is establish an Environmental Law and a Matrimonial Real Property Law…

…but it's not limited to that… there's a listing of other laws that can be developed and there's a mechanism of how those laws are introduced to the community…

Gord:

We have multiple Departments here in the Brokenhead Administration that we will be consulting with and developing laws, policies and regulations as it relates to specific land interests…

But we have definitely been able to look at commercial development a lot quicker and easier given the fact that we make the decisions locally here

…we can sit down with adjacent governments and municipalities and make decisions as fast as they can…

Paul Chief:

We've worked with the University of Manitoba, the Faculty of Medicine….we have quite an issue in regards to health care costs and needs…and what we wanted to do was actually bring the health care to the community instead of transporting them out of the community…

…We are developing and building a structure right now that will house our new clinic…

…we are looking at having three doctors in place, a couple of nurse practitioners and we're also having a blood clinic and our own lab within the community…

The other thing that we're working on is a grocery store that's been badly needed over the years…

…And we actually want to bring in affordable food…

The First Nations Land Management Act has actually given us the opportunity to bring those things within our community …from designated land to bring in businesses…to bring in corporate offices and so forth and opportunities to our membership…building on infrastructure- sewer and water…roads, bridges, drainage …all of this means work… all of this means possibility and opportunities for the young…

Gord:

I think overall the Act itself provides our community with the opportunity to regain, revive the tradition of management within our communities…

I look at our reserves as a land of opportunity for our communities to become successful and to become self-sustaining as we once were…

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