Taking Responsibility for Land Management

How does a First Nation take control of its lands?

A First Nation signatory to the Framework Agreement may exercise its land management option by

  • creating its own Land Code,
  • entering into a further Individual Transfer Agreement with Canada; – drafting a community ratification process; and
  • conducting a community vote.

During this time the First Nation continues to operate under the Indian Act.

When is land management authority transferred to the First Nation?

Once the members of the First Nation approve the Land Code and the Individual Transfer Agreement, control over First Nation land and resources is transferred from under the Indian Act to the First Nation’s land laws and administration or according to their effective date as outlined in the First Nation’s Land Code.

The Individual Agreement must be signed by both the First Nation and Canada before a land code can be fully operational; many First Nations choose to wait until after a land code vote to sign this document.

What is a Land Code?

A Land Code will be the basic land law of the First Nation and will replace the land management provisions of the Indian Act.

The Land Code will be drafted by the First Nation and will make provision for the following matters:

  • 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, – The conflict of interest rules,
  • A 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,
  • The delegation of land management responsibilities, and – The procedure for amending the Land Code.

Is the Indian Act still relevant to a First Nation that has adopted a Land Code?

Yes. Approximately two-thirds of the provisions of the Indian Act, which do not deal with land matters, continue to apply to a First Nation that has a Land Code. For example, the sections dealing with elections and governance continue to apply to the First Nation.

What is an Individual Agreement?

An Individual Agreement between each community and Canada will be negotiated to deal with such matters as:

  • the reserve lands to be managed by the First Nation,
  • the specifics of the transfer of the administration of land from Canada to the First Nation, e.g. the interests in land held by Canada that are to be transferred to the First Nation, the transfer of revenues and an interim environmental assessment process, and – the funding to be provided by Canada to the First Nation for land management.