What is Land Code?
A Land Code is laws, regulations and policies for how reserve lands and the resources on reserve lands are managed. The Land Code replaces the 32 land management sections of the Indian Act and returns governing power of reserve lands to the First Nation as opposed to the federal government.
What protection does Land Code offer to keep Chief and Council giving away land?
The Land Code requires accountability from leadership to the members. Instead of reporting to the government, Chief and Council must provide a report to the members on all activities relating to the administration and management of the reserve lands.
Under Land Code, the size of the reserve land base cannot shrink. This is an important protection that is built into the Framework Agreement to protect the reserve land base of a First Nation. A Land Code does make it possible for a First Nation to choose to exchange parcels of its reserves, but this cannot be done without the consent of the members.
What decision-making power does Land Code give the community?
Land Code provides a First Nation control over land management and development decisions on its reserve lands. This means that the members, both on and off reserve, will be given the opportunity to participate in important decisions about how our reserve lands will be used.
Does Land Code mean people will need training?
Yes! Once a Land Code is passed, the First Nation will receive funding that can be used to build the capacity of a Lands Office. This will include hiring a team, such as a Lands Manager and support staff, and providing them with training.
What is the relationship between Tsilhquot’in and Land Code?
The Tsilhquot’in case was undertaken to establish title to the traditional territory. Land Code deals with strictly reserve lands and the laws and policies that manage these lands. Land Code does not change the title of the reserve lands. It just deals with day-to-day management and decision making.
What happens if the federal government dissolves the Individual Agreement?
Once a Land Code is passed, the federal government does not have the power to dissolve an Individual Agreement (IA). Land Code becomes the law and the community holds the power over their reserve lands. The government has no say once an IA is signed.
What impact does Land Code have on Title and Rights?
None. The Framework Agreement ensures that Aboriginal title and rights are not affected by the Land Code process. The Framework Agreement and the Land Code process only deal with the sections of the Indian Act that relate to reserve land management. This include sections 18-44, 53-60, 71, and 93. Issues relating to Aboriginal title and rights are dealt with in Sections 1-17 of the Indian Act and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
How much money is being invested in developing this Land Code?
Every First Nation which signs onto the Framework Agreement receives $150k in funding to go through the process. This funding is separated from the core Band funding. If the Land Code is successful, the Nation will receive annual operational funding to support the implementation of the land code. The Nation would also receive transitional funding for the first 2 years to help set up the Lands Office.
How long will it take to develop a draft of our Land Code?
Every community takes a different approach to drafting their land code. ‘Namgis has decided to have a Land Code Development Advisory Committee lead the drafting of the code. The process is dependent on the work of the Development Committee and the community. ‘Namgis will take as long as needed to ensure the community is ready to vote on the Land Code. ‘Namgis is currently aiming to have a draft Land Code ready for community review in the Summer of 2018.
What is the Individual Agreement?
The Individual Agreement is the agreement between the First Nation and Canada which identifies the lands the Land Code applies to, when the transfer of responsibility for land management will happen and how much funding the community will receive to manage the reserve lands. Community members 19+ must vote in favor the Land Code and Individual Agreement for the Land Code to take effect.
What is the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management?
The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management is a government-to-government agreement signed in 1996 by First Nations and Canada. It is an initiative to opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act and take over responsibility for the day-to-day management of reserve lands and resources. It is the Framework Agreement that is actively being implemented by First Nations and Canada. As a result of the Framework Agreement, more than 70 First Nations have implemented their own Land Codes.
Is Land Code the same thing as Treaty?
No, not at all. Developing a Land Code isn’t part of a Treaty and only deals with reserve lands. Section 91.24 of the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management states “The Framework Agreement is not a treaty and does not affect treaty rights or other constitutional rights of the First Nations”.
Is Land Code a land surrender?
Land surrenders are not allowed under the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management and the reserve land base can never shrink, it can only be added to. If a First Nation adopts a land code, the land surrender and designation process is no longer required to issue a lease.
Is industry and government pressuring us to develop a Land Code?
Industry and government are not pressuring ‘Namgis First Nation to develop a Land Code. Becoming a signatory of the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management is a decision made by the community.
Are community members involved in the development of the Land Code?
Yes! Community members have played an important part of developing our draft Land Code. A Land Code Development Advisory Committee made up of ‘Namgis members has been setup to develop the first draft of the Land Code.
Will the Land Code create tax problems for me?
Land Code does not impact or effect personal taxation. The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management states that the sections of the Indian Act relating to taxation will continue to apply after a Land Code takes effect.
Does the Land Code impact my Indian Status and access to things like medical and dental coverage?
No, a Land Code does not affect Indian Status and will not remove access to medical or dental coverage.
How do we ensure accountability for decisions regarding the management of reserve lands, the resources on those lands and the revenues generated from those lands under Land Code?
Under Land Code, ‘Namgis First Nation Council will be required to report annually to its members on its land management activities. The Land Code will also set out rules on financial accountability for its management of lands, resources and revenues. ‘Namgis Council is legally required to follow the laws that are enacted in the Land Code.