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First Nation Land Management Act, Framework Agreement, and Wabauskang Land Code

In October of 2019. Wabauskang Chief and Council submitted a Land Governance Community Profile as part of an application to become a signatory to the Framework Agreement and have greater control over its lands, resources, and economic development under the First Nations Land Management Act.  In July of 2021, this application was approved and Wabauskang signed the Adhesion Agreement to be added as a signatory to the Framework Agreement.  It is important to note that the signing of the Adhesion Agreement only indicates that Wabauskang First Nation intends to develop its own land code and opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act.  Any changes to how the community will manage its reserve lands in the future will be subject to a community ratification process and all band members over the age of 18 will have an opportunity to vote.  This will be a multi-year process and we will be working with band membership on the development of the land code through community surveys and engagement sessions in the coming months.

INTRODUCTION

The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (Framework Agreement) is a government-to-government agreement signed by 13 First Nations and Canada on February 12, 1996. The Framework Agreement was initiated to opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act and resume governance and management control of reserve lands and natural resources.

First Nation signatories ratify the Framework Agreement by enacting a Land Code. Until a Land Code is enacted, federal administration of their lands continues under the Indian Act. The Framework Agreement has expanded to 194 signatory First Nations, of which 102 have enacted their own Land Codes. The Framework Agreement is not a treaty and does not affect existing treaty or other constitutional rights of the First Nations.

TAKING CONTROL OF LAND GOVERNANCE

A First Nation signatory to the Framework Agreement develops its land governance system by creating its own Land Code, completing a community ratification process, and entering into an individual agreement with Canada. The specific steps are set out in the Framework Agreement:

The Land Code: Drafted and approved by the community, the Land Code becomes the basic land law of the First Nation. When it comes into effect, approximately 44 sections of the Indian Act no longer apply, and Canada is no longer involved in the decision making of the First Nation’s land and resources. The Land Code does not have to be approved by the Minister or any federal department.

Individual Agreement: An Individual Agreement, developed between each First Nation and Canada and will address matters such as operational funding, reserve boundary description etc.

Community Ratification Process: In order for the First Nation to re-assume control over First Nation Land, the Land Code and the Individual Agreement must be ratified by the eligible voters of the First Nation. All eligible voters, members of the First Nation who are at least 18 years of age, whether living off-reserve or on-reserve, have the right to vote on the Land Code and the Individual Agreement.

Verification: An independent person selected jointly by the First Nation and Canada, called a Verifier, confirms that the community ratification process and Land Code are consistent with the Framework Agreement.

Recognition of Land Governance Authority: Upon the enactment of the Land Code, jurisdictional control over First Nation Land and natural resources are recognized to be under the governance authority of the First Nation and are no longer subject to the Indian Act.

SUPPORT

Under the Framework Agreement, signatory First Nations established a Lands Advisory Board to assist them in implementing land governance over their reserve lands and resources.  This included establishing and supporting the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre (RC) to provide technical support for communities to develop and implement their land codes.  Wabauskang First Nation has our own support technician, Katharina Trottier, at the RC whose role is to assist the community through the process and facilitate engagement with their advisors and support staff as needed.

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Who We Are

A First Nations organization dedicated to serving and supporting First Nations communities who want to re-establish control over their lands, natural resources, and environment through the historic government-to-government Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management.

What We Do

The RC is dedicated to supporting First Nations communities, when invited, in the following ways:

  • Intergovernmental Relations in support of the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management’s ongoing implementation

  • Training, resources, and support services for signatory First Nations as they develop and implement their community land codes

  • Providing information to interested First Nations

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