Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

January 23, 2012 08:35 ET

The Harper Government Announces Eight First Nations from British Columbia to Join First Nations Land Management Regime

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 23, 2012) - The Harper Government today announced that eight First Nations from British Columbia will soon begin a process to opt out of the 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over their reserve land and resources, announced the Honourable James Moore, Member of Parliament for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam and Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

"I would like to congratulate these eight First Nations from British Columbia on being selected to join the First Nations Land Management Regime," said Minister Moore. "Assuming greater control over the management of their reserve lands, environment and resources will enable each of these First Nations to seize new economic development opportunities."

The First Nations include: Aitchelitz, Haisla Nation, Shuswap, Skowkale, St. Mary's, Stz'uminus, Williams Lake Indian Band, and Yakweakwioose.

"The First Nations Land Management Regime has a proven track record of increasing economic development opportunities for First Nations," said Minister Duncan. "Together with First Nations organizations and communities, we are working to build a future in which First Nations are self-sufficient and prosperous, making their own decisions, managing their own affairs and making strong contributions to the country as a whole."

Three of the First Nations - Aitchelitz, Skowkale and Yakweakwioose - will enter the Regime as one entity, under the Sto'lo Tribal Council, sharing funding for the development and operation of their new land code.

"I am extremely excited and elated that 18 new First Nations who are well-deserving will be added as signatories to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management," said Chief Robert Louie, Chair of the Lands Advisory Board and the Chief of Westbank First Nation. "This is an investment in First Nations that will bring significant returns to these First Nations and to the entire Canadian economy. For First Nations to be recognized as governing jurisdictions with their own decision making powers is the desire of First Nation communities across this country."

A quote sheet is attached from First Nations leadership.

Today's announcement is a result of a commitment made in Budget 2011. The Government of Canada committed to reallocating up to $20 million over two years to respond to the growing interest from First Nation leaders to participate in the First Nations Land Management Regime.

Improving economic opportunities for Aboriginal people is a priority for the Government of Canada. In June 2009, the Government of Canada released the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development (FFAED), which represents a fundamental change to how the federal government supports Aboriginal economic development. The FFAED emphasizes strengthening entrepreneurship, enhancing the value of Aboriginal assets, and forging new and effective partnerships to maximize economic development potential of Aboriginal Canadians.

Quote Sheet

Backgrounder - First Nations Land Management Regime

For additional information please visit the Lands Advisory Board website:
www.labrc.com

This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca.

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QUOTES

Chief Robert Louie, Chair of the Lands Advisory Board and the Chief of Westbank First Nation, BC:

"I am extremely excited and elated that 18 new First Nations who are well-deserving will be added as signatories to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management. This is an investment in First Nations that will bring significant returns to these First Nations and to the entire Canadian economy. For First Nations to be recognized as governing jurisdictions with their own decision making powers is the desire of First Nation communities across this country."

AFN BC Regional Chief, Jody Wilson-Raybould:

"As AFN Regional Chief representing British Columbia, I am delighted with Minister Duncan's announcement that more of our communities will be added as signatories to the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management. Our Nations are in a profound period of change and of Nation building. First Nation jurisdiction and decision-making over their reserve lands and resources is a fundamental first step on the road to economic development and eventually financial independence. I applaud the effort by the Minister and his colleagues to find the resources to further invest in our communities and the Framework Agreement. I am optimistic that the future success of all of the Framework Agreement First Nations across Canada will encourage Canada to find additional resources so that the many other communities can exercise direct control over their reserve lands and resources."

Grand Chief Joe Hall, President, Sto:lo Nation, BC:

"This an exciting beginning point for three more Sto:lo communities who are elated with the news that they are to be signatories to the Framework Agreement. The many benefits, which include the opportunity to establish land laws and exercise jurisdiction, are obvious. The addition of these three communities means that geographical gaps in the Sto:lo territory will be filled. Now 10 of our 11 Sto:lo First Nations will be Framework Agreement signatories. This provides for greater group harmony amongst the already existing Sto:lo land codes. This in turn will prove to be equally important with the neighbouring non-Aboriginal local governments."

Chief Cheryl Casimer, St. Mary's First Nation, BC:

"We are extremely pleased with the news. We are now on our way to securing further jurisdiction on our lands and being the real decision-makers of our future. The?Aq'am community is looking forward to fulfilling the goals and objectives identified in our community strategic plan and at the same time creating economic opportunities through the creation of our development corporation, Aqam Community Enterprises. This is one of many great initiatives our first nation is embarking on and marks the beginning of a prosperous year ahead of us."

Chief Ann Louie, Williams Lake Indian Band, BC:

"Williams Lake Indian Band is immensely excited about the prospect of being added to the First Nations Lands Management Initiative (FNLMI). We are ready for greater autonomy, and assuming control over the management of our lands, resources and environment is a critical step forward. We are certain that participating in the FNLMI will increase efficiency, inspire investor confidence, and open doors to greater economic opportunity for our people."

Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Jan O'Driscoll
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable John Duncan
    819-997-0002

    Media Relations
    Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
    819-953-1160