Framework Agreement

What is the Framework Agreement?

The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management is a government-to-government agreement signed on February 12, 1996 by 13 First Nations and Canada. One other First Nation was added as a Party as of December 10, 1996.

The Framework Agreement was developed as an initiative by these 14 First Nations to opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act and take over responsibility for the management and control of their reserve lands and resources. The Framework Agreement sets out the principal components of this new land management process.

In March of 2003 the Framework Agreement was amended to allow for additional signatories or a “rolling 30” (30 First Nations actively developing land codes at any given time) to participate. A total of 125 First Nations have signed on to the Framework Agreement as of March 2017.

The Framework Agreement provides Signatory Members of the Framework Agreement with the option to manage their reserve lands under their own Land Codes. Until each of these First Nation communities develops and approves a Land Code to take control of its reserve lands and resources, federal administration of their reserve lands continues under the Indian Act.

The Framework Agreement is not a treaty and does not affect treaty rights or other constitutional rights of the First Nations.

How is the Framework Agreement ratified?

These First Nations and Canada are presently taking steps to ratify and implement the Framework Agreement. The Agreement is a new approach based upon a government-to- government contract and requires ratification by each of the First Nations and by Canada.

Canada enacted Bill C_49, the First Nations Land Management Act, as part of its obligation to ratify the Framework Agreement. It was given royal assent on June 17, 1999.

A First Nation ratifies the Framework Agreement by enacting a Land Code. Seventy-Two First Nations have developed and ratified their own land codes to date (March 31, 2017).

What is land management?

Land management involves the day-to-day administration of reserve lands and resources and the right to legislate in respect of those lands and resources.

Oil and gas, fisheries and migratory birds are not included in the resources to be managed under the Framework Agreement. Otherwise, the First Nation’s right to manage reserve lands and resources is comprehensive.

Can the Framework Agreement be amended?

Yes. The Framework Agreement can only be amended with the approval of 3/4 of the FN signatories and Canada.

Is this part of aboriginal self government?

Yes. This is one sectoral component of self-government by First Nations and deals only with their reserve lands and resources. Matters related to other topics, e.g. elections, governance and education, would be dealt with in the context of other agreements.

Will there be any impact on other self-government arrangements?

No. There is no direct impact on other self-government arrangements. The provisions of the Framework Agreement are sufficiently flexible and progressive that other self-government initiatives are able to fit harmoniously with the First Nation land regimes established under the Framework Agreement.

The Framework Agreement is not intended to define or prejudice inherent rights, or any other rights, of First Nations to control their lands or resources, e.g. rights under s. 35 of the Constitution. The Framework Agreement also does not preclude other negotiations in respect of those rights.