What we heard about the Reserve Lands and Environment Management Program

Summaries of the meetings for the Reserve Lands and Environment Management Program Engagement 2017 will be posted here.

On this page

Wendake, Quebec, May 2-3

Participants

There were 23 participants from 16 First Nations at the meeting in Wendake, Quebec.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in Quebec.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Quebec

Participants stressed the importance of lands management for their communities. They saw taking on the administration of lands and environmental management as an important step towards self-determination and building lasting capacity, but stressed that the current Reserve Lands and Environment Management Program (RLEMP) was not adequate to meet all of their needs.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) could better position the RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Building better capacity for First Nations in both lands and environmental management was identified as a priority. First Nation participants were clear that training needed to be made available in both official languages and that any new training developed for First Nations in Quebec needed to reflect the differences in civil law within the province.

Suggestions to improve current training were:

  • given the unique legal and linguistic framework in Quebec, lands and environmental management training should be provided by a Quebec postsecondary institution, where possible, and that the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association work to ensure that their training is provided in French
  • a combination of both in-person and on-line training was favoured to meet the needs of adult learners who need to balance work, family, and studies
  • bridging theory with practical skills training is important
    • consideration should be given to more "hands on" training opportunities, such as First Nation to First Nation mentoring, practicums, and working closer with INAC regional offices
  • geographic information system and global positioning system training should be included in the curriculum (e.g. making maps and manipulating data) so that First Nations lands offices could start doing this work in-house
  • additional training on dispute resolution was also identified as a priority given the diverse interests First Nation lands managers deal with daily
  • there needs to be better incorporation of traditional knowledge into the curriculum, working with Elders will be an important part of this process
  • participants strongly disagreed with the current policy of training only one person per community
    • in their view, this did not allow for any on-going professional development nor did it allow communities to develop succession plans for their lands office

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Ensuring that there is adequate funding for managing lands and environment both on reserve land and in traditional territories were the highest priorities for participants in Wendake, Quebec. Participants felt that the current RLEMP funding formula did not accurately reflect the breadth of work that was required of them.

The following are suggestions on how the funding formula could be improved:

  • there is too much focus on registered transactions in the current formula which was seen as unfair to smaller First Nations with smaller lands bases
  • any new funding formula should provide an adequate base amount of funding to pay for a land manager or a lands office
    • this was seen as more fair to all First Nations
  • participants also felt that a base amount of funding also better recognized the broad range of activities that lands managers provide on reserve and in their traditional territories (such as economic development, infrastructure, environmental protection, enforcement, etc.)
  • participants did not think that the current funding formula took into consideration the following additional activities:
    • required surveys
    • matrimonial real property
    • additions to reserve
    • environment management
    • on-going professional development
  • consideration should be given on how best to incorporate traditional territories into any new funding formula
    • for example, the importance of land based knowledge to guide land management, and knowledge of traditional hunting and fishing and medicines is key, but also acknowledging the number of activities associated with traditional territories such as managing resources, liaising with industry, negotiating agreements, etc.

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Compared with other provinces, Quebec does not have many First Nations who participate in RLEMP or other land regimes, such as First Nation Land Management (FNLM). Many of the participants spoke about wanting to manage their own reserve lands, but not meeting the current eligibility criteria for RLEMP. Others spoke about the lack of support they received as they transitioned out of the Indian Act towards developing and administering their own laws and land codes. Therefore, pre-readiness to transition into RLEMP as well as better supports to transition into FNLM was discussed.

Suggestions on what could be improved:

  • open eligibility for RLEMP to all interested First Nations and ensure that funding be made available to build the required capacity (such as training for land and environmental officers, as well as leadership so that they understand what land management is and why it is important)
  • planning activities (such as land use planning, comprehensive community planning, infrastructure planning, economic development plans, etc.) were discussed as critical for overall capacity and governance development, both for pre-entry into RLEMP and transitions to FNLM and self-government
  • encouraging better linkages between Quebec First Nations to share best practices, build regional capacity, and improve land and environmental management on reserve is important
  • re-introduce some form of delegated authority for land management decision-making into RLEMP to make the transition from RLEMP to the First Nations Land Management Regime smoother
    • participants said that delegated authority was important for self-determination, but also to build community trust in their lands office

Toronto, Ontario, May 9-11

Participants

There were 74 participants from 41 First Nations at the meeting in Toronto.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in Ontario.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Ontario

Land management under RLEMP is important for Ontario First Nations because it is a step towards self-government and ensures that community lands, a spiritual and economic base, are sustained for future generations.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Building lands and environment capacity is a priority for Ontario communities. More accessible, supportive and hands-on training would strengthen current capacity supports in First Nations lands offices to deal with day to day issues. Furthermore, better capacity would also help deal with longer and more complicated processes such as additions to reserve and major projects.

Suggestions to improve current training:

  • find a post-secondary institution in Ontario to reduce the need for travel and to teach more regional curriculum
  • make the training available to all First Nations, not just those in RLEMP
  • develop more hands-on, mentorship, or cooperative education
  • formalize a prior learning assessment and recognition process to ensure that people do not have to re-take training for which they already have the competencies
  • ensure that traditional knowledge is incorporated into training by working with Elders
  • provide on-going professional development to ensure lands managers and staff keep up to date on new information

Furthermore, it was suggested that additional curriculum be developed on:

  • environmental management and protection
  • how to manage planning processes (e.g. land use planning)
  • managing the additions to reserve process
  • bylaw and proposal development
  • training on duty to consult and community engagement
  • environmental management (monitoring and compliance)
  • natural resource management
  • negotiation skills and conflict resolution
  • how to use the Indian Land Registry System
  • geographic information systems
  • how INAC works and how to deal with departmental officials

Participants also made it clear that funding only one land manager per community was not sustainable and hampered their ability to manage work-loads in larger communities and as well as succession planning for all communities.

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Funding for additional lands staff, environmental management, and training more than one land manager per community were put on the table in Ontario. There was a lot of discussion about the current RLEMP funding formula, and a number of suggested changes were put forward to inform the development of a new formula.

Overall concerns with the current funding formula included:

  • too much of the funding came from registered transactions and this disadvantaged many smaller communities
  • the funding formula does not take into consideration all of the activities lands managers are expected to perform
  • the total amount of funding for many First Nations is not adequate to staff a lands office or to perform required duties
  • levels have not increased since 2005

Suggested changes to the current funding formula included:

  • expand the number and types of transactions that are counted for the funding formula (such as verification letters, matrimonial real property forms, consultation letters, estates and membership issues)
  • provide a minimum or base amount of funding for all communities
  • provide funding for environmental management as the current funding formula does not mention environment
  • provide funding to support planning (such as land use planning, environmental management planning, climate change, infrastructure, etc.)
  • provide dedicated funding for salaries to staff a lands office that matches the expected competencies for lands manager certification
  • provide additional funding for rural and remote communities that recognizes their higher costs as well as funding for activities done on traditional and off reserve lands
  • reassess funding formula every three to five years

Participants indicated that the ideal ways to administer funding would be:

  • multi-year base/core funding for lands department and staff
  • additional funding for specific community lands, planning and environmental needs
  • better recognition of the full range of work that lands managers are required to do on and off reserve

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Ontario has a large number of First Nations in RLEMP and the First Nation Land Management regime. However, participants felt that more could be done to include First Nations who want to manage their own lands through RLEMP by expanding eligibility criteria and by providing more pre-readiness training.

Furthermore, participants spoke for a need to provide First Nations delegated authority for land management decision-making as a stepping stone to other forms of sectoral self-governance in lands. They suggested that delegated authority for land management decision-making in some form should be re-introduced into RLEMP.

Other suggestions include:

  • all First Nations in Ontario should be able to enter RLEMP or receive training
  • ensure greater accessibility for First Nations with small reserves
  • bring back sections 53/60 Indian Act delegated authority for interested First Nations

Winnipeg, Manitoba, May 16-18

Participants

There were 43 participants from 30 First Nations at the meeting in Winnipeg.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in Manitoba.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Manitoba

Participants in Winnipeg were both passionate and informative about land management and its importance to their communities. Overall, participants expressed the significance of their traditional territories and treaties and the many challenges with land management that the current RLEMP does not adequately address.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position the RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Participants discussed how to improve land management training offered through the Professional Land Management Certification Program (PLMCP). Like in other regions, participants wanted PLMCP training located closer to home (for example, at the University of Winnipeg or Manitoba) and to have funding to train more than one land manager. The following are other suggestions on how to improve training:

Curriculum

  • training on relevant provincial/federal legislation and jurisdictions (e.g. the additions to reserve process or cleaning up contaminated lands, or the role of municipalities in the treaty land entitlement process)
  • training on Impact Benefit Agreements, dealing with government, drone training, geographic information system training and climate change
  • traditional knowledge needs to be incorporated and recognized in the program
  • training should not only be about reserve lands but also about traditional territories and treaties, specifically protecting both inherent and treaty rights and that more broadly RLEMP should apply beyond reserve boundaries

Delivery

  • distance learning was mentioned as being essential to training, but that there are issues with connectivity in some communities
    • participants suggested using existing technologies in communities, similar to telehealth
  • expand training to enable land managers get a full degree in the profession
  • current lands managers could have a bigger role in developing training curriculum
  • it was mentioned that pre-degree courses should be recognized through a prior learning assessment and that adult learners should be better accommodated
  • participants identified the need for pre-readiness learning and supports throughout the program such as training for computer skills, writing skills, and other supports
  • create an apprenticeship type program so that lands managers can provide for their families while completing their training
  • it was recommended that there be a special session for northern communities, as land managers need different skills to manage land in the North
  • training needs to be more open for additional learners
  • one participant noted that the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre provides schools with telecommunication/network and infrastructure

Community involvement and succession planning

  • better inform community members of land management and encourage First Nation leadership to be invested in and involved with land management
  • create more opportunities for young people to be involved with land management, and encourage them to understand lands through Elder led teachings
  • training multiple people from a single community
  • many wondered who would take their place when they retire

School/work/life balance

  • training is intense and the completion time should be extended
  • people with families should be accommodated and allowed to bring their family/support

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Participants in Winnipeg indicated that funding for a land manager and a lands office with multiple staff was a top priority. They made it clear that land managers take on many tasks not covered by RLEMP funding. Their suggested improvements included:

  • clearer communication on how to enter RLEMP and how funding is calculated
  • there is a need to fund land use planning and setting up a lands office
  • funding should be available for dealing with "spontaneous situations" such as night hunting, trespassers and illegal dumping on reserve, as well as natural disasters and the loss of land due to fires or floods
  • processes that take up a lot of time need more funding, such as community information/engagement sessions and communicating with off-reserve members
  • other processes (such as historical research, surveys, bylaw creation, proposal writing and treaty land entitlements) need more funding support
  • participants made it clear that funding should reflect off-reserve interests and unregistered interests, such as additions to reserve, responding to corporate activities on their traditional lands and establishing business partnerships as these activities occupy much of land managers' time
  • environmental management was a key funding concern encompassing environmental/natural resource management plans and compliance frameworks
  • suggestions on improving the funding formula included:
    • a minimum base of funding to cover staff, travel, operational costs of a lands office, etc.
    • annual inflationary adjustments
    • annual consideration of population and land size changes
    • building management costs into more flexible proposal
  • it was also recommended that the formula better track actual land management work and factor in the rising costs of new technologies
  • participants suggested a program review/evaluation every three to five years, to ensure continuous improvement of RLEMP

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Many participants spoke about wanting to take on more land management responsibility but did not meet RLEMP's eligibility criteria. Others mentioned their fear of being turned into a municipality and the importance of upholding the intent of the treaties.

Suggestions included:

  • land management programs that involve lands outside of reserve lands and support First Nation ability to manage traditional territories
  • ensuring land management is a priority for First Nation leadership
  • bringing Elders into land management and ensuring they lead processes to build customary laws and clan systems into land management programs
  • seeking clarity in the extent of what lands and resources (surface or subsurface) belong to a First Nation community, as well as completing land designations and managing certificates of possession

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, May 30 – June 1

Participants

There were 62 participants from 42 First Nations at the meeting in Saskatoon. It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in Saskatchewan.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Saskatchewan

Participants in Saskatoon shared a variety of perspectives about the importance of land management. They were particularly interested in technical aspects of land management like maximizing revenue of leased lands, land-use planning, developing and implementing by-law structures and community engagement.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position the RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Participants discussed adapting training to the regional needs of First Nations. For example, a Saskatchewan curriculum could provide hands on training and emphasize capacity in agricultural land use and leasing to reflect the large amount of agricultural activity in these communities. Other suggestions for improvement were:

Curriculum

  • participants voiced the desire to see greater technical training on:
    • surveys
    • methods to make use of drones
    • geographic information systems
    • global positioning systems
    • radio communications
    • computers
    • the Indian Land Registry System
    • other technologies to ensure that land management on reserve is as modern and efficient as possible
  • it was expressed that there is a need to provide training on land use planning, as well as the development and enforcement of zoning and bylaws
  • training on how to acquire lands, appraise band-owned or community land, and going through the additions to reserve process
  • training on specific RLEMP forms and financial management training
  • training on leadership, negotiation, and conflict resolution is needed
  • participants suggested there be practical teaching on environmental management that takes into consideration traditional knowledge and the impact of climate change on community lands (such as climate change, wild life habitat, etc.)
  • addressing buckshee issues that arise in a community's lands office and when dealing with INAC (since INAC does not recognize buckshee leases)

Training delivery

  • introduce pre-readiness courses to be available before entering RLEMP training that focus on skills such as research, writing papers, computer skills, etc.
  • include professional development options for land managers to keep their skills and knowledge up to date
  • provide evening classes and more online options to avoid unnecessary travel
  • partnering with other colleges and organizations (such as the Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics, First Nations Tax Commission, etc.) to encourage learning about other economic development programs and how to take advantage of them
  • training should be available to chief and council, other lands staff, and INAC staff
  • share best practices for negotiations and interactions with the provincial ministry of transportation or other government departments be shared, as well as sources of funding for related legal issues as they arise

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Participants in Saskatoon noted that land management involves a variety of activities beyond registering transactions into the Indian Land Registry System. They also voiced concerns that some transactions are not weighted equally despite involving the same amount of work to complete. Participants also felt the funding formula mandates a workload heavy with paperwork that takes away from other land management activities.

Participants in Saskatoon made the following suggestions with respect to improving the funding formula:

  • adjust the formula for inflation and revisiting the rates provided based on each type of transaction (i.e. permit, lease, etc.)
  • higher rates per hectare on grazing and agricultural leases to reflect the similarity in workload to secure a lease/permit for agriculture, grazing, and other activities
  • remove the cap on funding for First Nations that are operational or in delegated authority under RLEMP
  • incorporate a funding "base" given to First Nations in RLEMP by default to cover basic operating costs, regardless of transactions
  • provide funding explicitly linked to the environment and for the use of environmental management on First Nations lands
  • provide a base salary for a land manager/lands office staff in the formula
  • add a component to the formula that considers the need for training on an ongoing basis and the potential of worker turnover
  • consider the significant travel time required to monitor various lands;
    • this could be funded through recognizing and cataloguing the costs of mileage or time required to travel between reserves
  • provide a funding mechanism for a First Nation's system of matrimonial real property and consider those responsibilities in the calculation of funding where a First Nation has implemented its own laws
  • provide a way to ensure funding is used to fund a First Nation's lands office
  • increase funding for the enforcement, monitoring, and compliance aspects of RLEMP
  • support legal costs of environmental management such as costly reports through the Species at Risk Act
  • support maintenance and monitoring of lands and resources that are not reflected in land transactions such as water bodies, waterways on reserve, and traditional lands

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Participants in Saskatoon spoke about the desire to move toward self-government and manage their own lands while also noting that some communities do not currently meet the eligibility criteria for RLEMP. They also discussed ways to make the transition smoother between land management regimes.

Suggestions include:

  • more support for communities to identify what plans need to be negotiated and in place before that will support transition from one regime to the next
  • provide assistance with the process of surveying lands
  • terms and conditions for RLEMP that are fair and do not discriminate against First Nations with less land management capacity
  • standardize and clearly map out the transition process
  • allow for the entry of aggregate groups of First Nations and for those groups to transition together to other management regimes as a unit.
  • support First Nations to increase awareness of new responsibilities and assist with the design of the appropriate supports during transition

Edmonton, Alberta, June 6-8

Participants

There were 43 participants from 22 First Nations at the meeting in Edmonton.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in Alberta.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Alberta

First Nation participants underlined the importance of traditional knowledge and culture to their management of the land. They provided great examples of how traditional knowledge informs their work, and highlighted the importance of incorporating this knowledge into government programs and training moving forward. Many participants also focused on the differences in their regional lands management issues, including the need for better integration of environmental protection, oil and gas activities, and greater self-determination.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Overall, First Nation participants wanted a more "made in Alberta" set of training and encouraged both National Aboriginal Land Managers Association and INAC to seek a new partnership with an Alberta postsecondary institution. They also wanted to see more traditional knowledge built into the curriculum, and more training on environmental and resource management.

Curriculum development

  • provide training on how to manage oil and gas
  • include a spiritual component and ecological information from First Nation perspectives and the inclusion of natural laws and land based teachings
  • incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, such as emphasizing First Nation history
  • recognize the importance of language and understanding land through Indigenous languages (which is connected to the understanding of medicines)
  • provide a thorough overview of federal and provincial systems, processes and policies, as well as legislation and jurisdictions that overlap with traditional territories
  • more content on how to establish regimes on mining, forestry, hunting and fishing
  • provide training on how to set up a lands office (i.e. file management, policies)
  • additional technical training on:
    • drones
    • surveys
    • mapping
    • additions to reserves
  • include training on dispute resolution/mediation and international public participation
  • focus on climate change, changing landscapes and the impacts on communities
  • ensure that training reflects the Native Aboriginal Land Managers Association's core competencies for land managers

Training delivery

  • more than one land manager should be trained as work is overwhelming for one person to meet all land management competencies
  • customize learning with online learning (like a Master's of Business Administration) with various course options
  • there needs to be more field work and technical/hands-on training
  • more hands-on training or job shadowing at a First Nation or in an INAC regional office as part of training and on-going certification
  • there needs to be mandatory community mentorship with experienced practitioners as well as with knowledge holders/keepers
  • prior learning experience needs to be taken into consideration – recognizing traditional knowledge keepers and how their understanding of the land is as important and impactful as a university degree from a Western institution
  • work with other institutions that could provide training, for example First Nations with their own colleges i.e. Northern Lakes College, Woodland Operations Learning Foundation, and Building Environmental Aboriginal Human Resources Programs
  • greater emphasis on educating others such as community members, Chief & Council, tribal council as well as INAC staff and expand the training beyond 2 years
  • provide funding for child care for training participants while they are on campus

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

The adequacy of funding was discussed at length with participants at the engagement session. There was a discussion about the need to balance core funding with transaction-related funding to ensure that both large and small First Nations could benefit equally from RLEMP. Other suggestions for an improved funding formula included:

  • multi-year funding for lands department and professional development
  • minimum base funding for a lands office instead of just an officer
  • flexible funding with adjusters that reflects increasing cost of land management
  • provide more funding for environmental management and reclamation of oil wells
  • allow RLEMP First Nations to collect and keep rents instead of having to send them to the receiver general to be held in trust
  • provide direct funding with less reporting burden
  • there needs to be funding for oil & gas (reclamation of previously used oil sites)
  • consider traditional territories in funding amounts

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Participants were clear that they wanted to be in control of their own path towards self-determination and did not want to be pressured to move into or out of programs until they felt ready. They spoke about better integration of programing that helped to facilitate transitions on their terms, and that capacity development was an important step towards long-term success. Suggestions to improve this integration include:

  • need funding or support to attract and retain qualified lands staff for RLEMP
  • provide a broader range of options on land management or options for First Nations to develop their own regime outside of RLEMP
  • create broader and more flexible criteria for entry and on-going participation
  • sections 53/60 Indian Act delegated authority or other forms of delegated authority for land management decision-making should be re-introduced to RLEMP
  • participants wanted better support from regional offices to support their transitions
  • pre-readiness training and information would go a long way to help First Nation leadership understand the implications of being in RLEMP or other land regimes

Kelowna, British Columbia, June 13-15

Participants

There were 64 participants from 42 First Nations at the meeting in Kelowna.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in British Columbia (BC).

The importance of lands management for First Nations in British Columbia

First Nation participants in Kelowna, BC, entered the discussions with a significant amount of operational experience in land and environmental management and drew on that experience to provide comments and critical perspectives on RLEMP. Relative to other provinces, BC had a higher degree of First Nations that were participating in RLEMP or the First Nations Land Management Regime. The major concerns brought up by participants included increasing lands office capacity to manage traditional territories, greater support for environmental management and protection, and more stable funding to support land management, to name a few.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position the RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities could benefit from having a lands manager

Capacity Development and Training

Overall, participants felt the program was effective at covering the core competencies necessary for reserve land management. However, the expertise required of a lands manager made the course load and intensity difficult to manage for some participants. A recurring suggestion was to open land management training to more staff, while providing closer, and more regionally relevant, training options. The following are other suggestions on how to improve training:

Curriculum

  • environmental management and monitoring needs to be more prominent overall
  • focus on climate change, changing landscapes and emergency response planning
  • ensure training reflects the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association's core competencies for land managers
  • incorporate traditional knowledge as part of the curriculum on environmental management
    • Indigenous ways of knowing and doing should be given equal prominence
  • offer a thorough overview of federal and provincial systems, processes and policies, as well as legislation and jurisdictions that overlap with traditional territories
  • participants expressed the need for additional training on the following subjects:
    • how to set up a lands office (i.e. file management, information technology systems, human resources, policy development and implementation)
    • technical training on drones, geographic information systems, surveys, mapping and additions to reserve
    • dispute resolution/mediation
    • communications (to prepare lands managers for community engagement and hosting information workshops)

Training delivery

  • INAC and the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association should work with other institutions to provide training, for example with the Indigenous Adult Higher Learning Association
  • the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association Level II technical training program should seek accreditation so that individuals can use post-secondary funding to access all of their Professional Land Management Certification Program training
  • greater flexibility in training to reduce the burden on students with other obligations
  • make learning more customizable by offering more online learning, webinars, and mixed online/in-person classrooms with various course options
  • there needs to be more field work and technical/hands on training
  • more options for community mentorship with experienced practitioners
  • consideration for prior learning experience, particularly with regards to previous post-secondary education and land management experience
  • make training accessible to any First Nation looking to take on land management
  • greater emphasis on educating others such as community members, chief & council, tribal council as well as INAC staff and expand the training beyond 2 years

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Participants in Kelowna made it clear that their greatest challenge and priority was securing funding for land management, and that funding is inadequate for most communities. Some participants expressed support for the existing funding arrangement and wanted to see minor changes, while others put forward a vision for a new approach to funding. Other recommendations to improve the RLEMP funding formula included:

  • a core or base amount of funding that is adjusted based on certain criteria such as population, land size and/or transactions
  • ensure that funding supports communities looking to preserve their lands equally to those seeking economic development
  • taking greater consideration of a land manager's non-transactional responsibilities
  • some participants supported a purely transaction-based formula
  • minimum base funding that supports more than just a land manager (e.g. additional staff and equipment) to encourage stability, planning and a long-term vision
  • any new funding formula should be easily communicated in plain language
  • provide more funding for environmental protection and management
  • more funding for technical and ongoing training
  • funding needs to clearly address due-diligence functions such as legal reviews of transactions, audits, compliance and enforcement
  • funding to take into account resource management occurring on traditional lands, such as liaising with industry and negotiating agreements
  • provide consideration for the administrative burdens associated with unregistered, traditional, or buckshee land holdings and instruments
  • training funding should be separate from operational funding

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs and lands regimes

Participants in Kelowna spoke about the transition from one land regime to the next. Some participants in FNLM had noted that their RLEMP experience had helped support their transition to land management under their Land Code. Many participants in BC viewed RLEMP as a stepping stone towards self-determination and felt sections 53/60 Indian Act delegated authority was an important part of that progression that needs to be re-opened. Other suggestions on how to improve transitions are as follows:

  • better communication of the existence and program benefits of RLEMP, as well as other land regimes, to First Nations
  • slightly over half of participants at the Kelowna session strongly agreed that a form of sections 53/60 Indian Act delegated authority for land management decision-making should be re-introduced to RLEMP
    • 80% of participants ranged from somewhat agree to strongly agree
  • participants wanted to see a broader range of options on land management or options for First Nations to develop their own regime outside of RLEMP
  • participants made it clear that more departmental support is needed to transition between land regimes, and land management job shadowing is desired
  • some First Nations remarked that they do not want to enter the FNLM regime as it leaves them liable with low capacity

Moncton, New Brunswick, June 26-28

Participants

There were 29 participants from 22 First Nations at the meeting in Moncton.

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not represent the views of all First Nations in the Atlantic region.

The importance of lands management for First Nations in Atlantic Canada

The majority of First Nation participants from the Atlantic region do not operate under a land regime, whether RLEMP or First Nation Land Management. However, nearly half of the participants noted that their community has a land manager. Atlantic First Nation participants therefore provided a unique perspective to the discussions. Participants expressed the importance of land management, but stressed that RLEMP was inadequate for most Atlantic First Nations due to funding restraints. Additionally, participants noted the importance of land management in protecting the lands for future generations.

Three main themes were discussed and developed over the two day engagement session, including:

  • capacity development and availability of training
  • developing a funding formula that better reflected the true work of lands and environmental managers on reserve
  • how INAC could better position RLEMP within the suite of lands programs and regimes available to First Nations so that more communities can employ a lands manager

Capacity development and training

Overall, participants expressed desire to have regionally-specific capacity development and training due to each region's unique land management circumstances. Participants also highlighted that land management training is often inaccessible for Atlantic communities due to the time required to complete the course, as well as its location.

Curriculum

  • include regionally-specific content and examples into the Professional Land Management Certification Program (PLMCP)
  • share best practices in land management from across the country
  • include knowledge of Treaties into curriculum
  • incorporate Indigenous Traditional Knowledge into the program
  • provide training on technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), drones, data systems, surveys, etc.
  • include land regime training
  • include training on negotiation skills
  • include training on financial management

Training Delivery

  • deliver training in the region
    • the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association could partner with Universities across Canada to do so
  • develop and provide online learning opportunities
    • travelling to Saskatchewan for the time needed to complete the PLMCP is unrealistic and overwhelming, especially for participants with job and family expectations
  • PLMCP course material should be grounded in Indigenous knowledge rather than in Western knowledge
  • provide support and follow-up once the course is complete
  • recognize prior learning and/or experience in land management
  • adopt the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers model of training for the PLMCP
  • provide an annual regional land management workshop to First Nations

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

First Nation participants clearly voiced that the RLEMP funding formula is inadequate and does not meet Atlantic First Nations' needs. While the formula relies on reserve size, population size and number of transactions registered in the Indian Land Registry System, participants noted that most Atlantic communities have small reserves and few transactions. Therefore, insufficient funding prevents First Nations from adequately operating a land office and even deters some from joining the program.

Suggestions for an improved funding formula included:

  • provide base funding to every RLEMP community in order to support land managers' salaries and operational expenses
  • consider other land management activities, such as:
    • designations
    • community planning
    • natural resource management
    • additions to reserve
    • conflict resolution and disputes
    • aquaculture
  • include the transactions in the formula as long as base funding is provided
  • ensure that funding rates for activities do not decrease with experience
  • tailor the funding formula to each region
  • ensure that salaries for land managers reflect the core competencies and match government rates of pay
  • adjust the rates to reflect inflation
  • fund training and professional development, including language training
  • simplify the formula and its components to make it easier to understand

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

Most First Nation participants were not operating under a land management regime at the time of the discussions. As a result, the majority of participants discussed ways to facilitate entry into RLEMP. Some of the suggestions included:

  • provide adequate funding for staff, operations and equipment through the introduction of base funding
  • provide equal access to land managers' salaries as current funding levels are not sufficient enough to fund a land manager
  • broaden entry criteria for First Nations with few registered Indian Land Registry System transactions and without existing economic development opportunities
    • ideally, entry into RLEMP should be open to any interested First Nation
  • enable communities to have greater control over their lands
  • develop and provide First Nations with the opportunity to participate in a mentorship or job shadowing program
  • share resources and provide opportunity for networking across the country
  • promote better communication and integration within INAC to effectively support First Nation land management responsibilities
  • provide more information about land management regimes to First Nations
  • develop tools and resources, including information packages and sessions, to provide to chief and council in order to better inform them of existing land management options and alleviate the burden on individual community members

Whitehorse, Yukon, September 13

Participants

Six participants Daylu Dena Council, Dease River First Nation, and Taku River Tlingit First Nation engaged with staff members from INAC National Headquarters and the Yukon Regional Office at the meeting in Whitehorse.

The communities represented are located in Northern British Columbia, with traditional territories that span the border between British Columbia, Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories. Due to their close historical and cultural connections to Yukon First Nations, and because Whitehorse is easier to access by road than Vancouver, INAC serves the communities represented at the meeting through its Yukon regional office.

First Nations located in Yukon Territory did not attend because, without reserve lands, they are not currently eligible to participate in the Reserve Land and Environmental Management Program (RLEMP).

It is important to note that this summary reflects the views of participants present at the meeting, but does not necessarily represent the views of all First Nations in the Yukon.

The importance of land management for First Nations in Yukon Territory

Land management is of signal importance to the participants at the engagement session and their communities. Daylu Dena Council, Dease River First Nation, and Taku River Tlingit First Nation actively pursue land management initiatives, often in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia and private interests.

Key land management priorities include:

  • environmental protection, including the development and enforcement of laws that reflect Indigenous knowledge and culture
  • support for Lands Guardian Program for youth
  • coordination with British Columbia and the Yukon on the management of traditional territories
  • conclusion of treaty negotiations with British Columbia
  • sustainable resource development, especially with respect to mining activities
  • pursuing a balanced mix of opportunities (for example: mining, tourism, forestry, renewable energy), and ensuring development delivers community revenues and employment opportunities
  • waste management
  • documentation of land, including gravesites

The communities represented at the engagement session face challenges managing their lands. Some of the main challenges discussed were:

  • communities do not have enough staff, or funding for staff, to monitor or enforce compliance with their land use and environmental management plans
  • there is little opportunity to consult with mining proponents through British Columbia's online claim system
  • inadequate funding for training
  • high turnover of staff and community leadership creates administrative challenges
  • lack of information, or poor communication, from leadership and project proponents makes community consultation difficult
  • the reclamation of mines and contaminated sites
  • recycling and waste management

Capacity development and training

The ambitious land and environmental management initiatives of the First Nations represented at the engagement session require strong institutions and well-trained staff to deliver the best results for communities. The lack of funding for training, coupled with high staff turnover, was identified as an obstacle to these First Nations plans and priorities.

In particular, participants at the engagement session told us they need:

  • financial management training
  • human resources management training tailored to the needs of First Nations and small communities
  • natural resources and wildlife management training
  • training to support community and external engagement

Training to support land and environmental management in these communities should:

  • be well funded
  • reflect the local or regional context
  • include Indigenous perspectives and take advantage of the knowledge of Elders
  • include academic supports, mentorship and experiential learning
  • provide stepping-stones toward professional certification
  • be delivered to groups of trainees in or near communities

Funding for on-reserve land and environmental management

Reserve lands form a small component of the traditional territories of the First Nations represented at the Yukon engagement session. Other Yukon First Nations do not occupy reserves. For this reason, it was clear that the current RLEMP funding model, based on activities pertaining to reserve land, does not work for them. Also, the First Nations noted they maintain their own registry system, which they understand as a necessary component of self-determination.

Although RLEMP is of limited benefit to these First Nations, as currently structured, participants were interested to know more about Lands and Economic Development Services Program funding. Participants identified current and potential roles for federal funding, notably:

  • for training land managers, environmental officers
  • to support a lands office and for the implementation of plans and strategies
  • to support a Lands Guardian Program
  • to develop tourism strategies as alternatives to mining

Participants advised that, currently:

  • most referrals and employment in land and environmental management come from mining, forestry or guiding (hunting, fishing)
  • the lands office for Daylu Dena Council is primarily funded by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
  • the RLEMP funding formula needs to be adapted to account for the context of First Nations land in the North if it is to provide effective funding support land and environmental management in the North

Better integration of RLEMP with other INAC programs

The reserve lands occupied by the First Nations represented at the engagement session are a small fraction of their traditional territories. The Yukon First Nations not present at the meeting are either self-governing or occupy land set-asides. In both cases, RLEMP is of little interest, as currently structured, because the program is inapplicable off reserve and does not provide enough financial support to cover the operational costs of a lands office when communities register few transactions in ILRS.

Despite seeing limited direct benefit in participating in RLEMP, as currently structured, participants saw a role for INAC programs in their communities. In particular:

  • one participant said that participation in First Nations land management would have clear benefits, but that the liabilities of that regime would have to be weighed against community capacity and priorities
  • The Additions to Reserve Process is important to participants, but the process is poorly communicated
  • participants identified recycling, managing the impacts of mining, solid waste management, and contaminated sites as priority areas that could benefit from INAC program support
Date modified: