Legal Status and Powers of First Nations

The Framework Agreement provides these First Nations with all the legal status and powers needed to manage and govern their lands and resources. While First Nations will not be able to sell their land, they will be able to lease or develop their lands and resources, subject to any limits imposed by their own community in laws and Land Codes.

Law-Making Powers: A First Nation managing its lands under a Land Code will have the power to make laws in respect of the development, conservation, protection, management, use and possession of First Nation land. The Land Code does not authorize laws relating to the taxation of real or personal property. Such laws must be made separately pursuant to section 83 of the Indian Act. The First Nation’s Council can continue to make by-laws under section 81 of the Indian Act.

Land Management: The Framework Agreement provides the First Nation with all the powers of an owner in relation to its First Nation Land, except for control over title or the power to sell it. The First Nation’s Council can manage land and resources, as well as revenues from the land and resources, in accordance with its Land Code.

Third Party Interests: Interests in First Nation land held by third parties, or by Canada, will continue in effect according to their terms and conditions under a Land Code. No new interests or licences may be acquired or granted except in accordance with the Land Code.

First Nation Expropriation:  The First Nation will have the power to acquire lands for community purposes upon payment of fair compensation to those whose interests are affected.

Accountability:  A Land Code will make provision for a First Nation to report to its members and to be accountable for its management of lands, resources and revenues.

Marriage Breakdown:  A First Nation will finally be able to deal with the rights of spouses to interests in First Nation land if their marriage breaks down. This is not currently addressed under the Indian Act. The community will, within 12 months, develop and enact rules and procedures on this topic. The new rules and procedures will ensure the equality of women and men.

Registration of Interests:  Canada will maintain a First Nations Land Register to record all documents respecting interests in the reserve lands of Signatory Members to the Framework Agreement.