NCN Chief and Council have answered many of the communities most pressing questions about the Nisichawayasi Aski Pumenikewin (Land Code) Ratification Vote. Read the Q & A’s below:
Taking Responsibility for Land Management
- identifying the reserve lands to be managed by the First Nation (called “First Nation land”),
- the general rules and procedures for the use and occupation of these lands by First Nation members and others,
- financial accountability for revenues from the lands (except oil and gas revenues, which continue under federal law),
- the making and publishing of First Nation land laws, such as the Land Use Planning law and set out conflict of interest rules for land management,
- the community process to develop rules and procedures applicable to land on the breakdown of a marriage,
- a dispute resolution process,
- procedures by which the First Nation can grant interests in land or acquire lands for community purposes, and
- the delegation of land management responsibilities, and the procedure for amending the Land Code.
The Land Code Development Committee holds community meetings with the members to develop policy upon which the Land Code is based. Once the draft Land Code begins to take shape, drafts are circulated in the community for comment. Door-to-door meetings with members may also be arranged to allow the Land Code Development Committee and members an opportunity for more in-depth discussion of the draft Land Code.
As a fundamental principle, the development of a Land Code is an exercise in community self-government at a “grass-roots” level.
The procedure for the community ratification process is developed by the Community in accordance with the Framework Agreement. This process will be set out in a Community Ratification Process document that will contain the details of the entire process. The ratification procedure involves a thorough process to locate all eligible voting members and thus providing them with the opportunity to vote in-person or by mail.
The Land Code does not authorize laws relating to the taxation of real or personal property. Such laws may be made separately pursuant to section 83 of the Indian Act.
- to manage its First Nation land,
- to make, administer and enforce its laws under a Land Code, and
- to administer an environmental assessment and management processes on First Nation land.
The amount of funding will be agreed upon between the First Nation and Canada. The
amount will be set out in the Individual Agreement with Canada and is subject to the
approval of the members of the First Nation as part of the Community Ratification
Aboriginal & Treaty Rights
Protection of First Nation Land
- Once a reserve becomes First Nation land under a Land Code, it cannot be sold or surrendered for sale.
- First Nation land is immune from expropriation for any provincial purpose and no provincial government or agency can have First Nation land expropriated by Canada.
- The power of Canada to expropriate First Nation land is restricted to cases where it is “justified and necessary for a federal public purpose that serves the national interest.” If such a case did occur, the First Nation must receive an equivalent amount of land as compensation, in addition to financial compensation for other damages.
- A First Nation may decide that it is advantageous to exchange some of its First Nation land for other lands. Provision can be made in its Land Code for 4 a procedure to negotiate and approve such exchanges. However, any exchange of land cannot occur without the consent of the First Nation community.
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) will no longer be involved in the management of the First Nation’s reserve lands.
A First Nation becomes liable for the acts and omissions of the first Nation or any person or entity authorized by the First Nation to act in relation to First Nation land that occur after the First Nation’s Land Code comes into effect.
The First Nation Council can continue to make by-laws under sections 81 and 85.1 of the Indian Act. For the most part, these by-laws relate to matters other than land.
Land Codes may provide that certain laws or policies must be ratified by the community before they take effect. Examples of what might require community approval before taking effect could include:
- a Land Use Plan,
- a grant of interest in First Nation land for a term exceeding 25 years, any grant or disposition of any natural resources for a term exceeding 5 years, or
- a charge or mortgage of a leasehold interest.
A First Nation may also allow any Certificates of Possession held by members to be mortgaged to the First Nation itself or to other members.
In the event of the default on a leasehold mortgage, the First Nation has first right to redeem the mortgage.
Before bringing a reserve under its Land Code, a First Nation is entitled to full disclosure on any environmental problem from Canada. The First Nation may decide to exclude the land from its Land Code until the problem is fixed by Canada.