This project came about as requested by a number of operational and developmental First Nations over the years. It’s a huge task to undertake considering each First Nation has the right to manage their reserve lands as they wish. We understood this from the beginning and we put forward best practices as gathered by a focus group of Operational First Nations in the Sto:lo Territory in British Columbia. Within the Sto:lo Territory there are 11 Operational First Nations: Aitchelitz, Leq’a:mel, Matsqui, Seabird Island, Shxwha:y Village, Skawahlook, Skowkale, Squiala, Sumas, Tzeachten & Yakweakwooise. All the Land Governance Directors, Land Governance Officers and Lands Clerks from these First Nations were invited to participate as a focus group for this project. The First Nations offered to host the sessions in their communities on a rotating basis but we ended up having most of our meetings in the City of Chilliwack. The meetings were held on: May 21, 2014 at Shwha:y Village, May 28, 2014 at Squiala, June 17, 2014 at Tzeachten, July 3, 23, 29 & 30, 2014 at Sto:lo Nation/Tzeachten, September 9, 2014 and October 14, 2014 at Tzeachten. In total we had eight full day meetings and one half day meeting. I headed up the project as it was an idea that came to me knowing that I was asked to write a lands manual as a part of my job. I thought it would make more sense and be more appropriate to utilize the best practices from a collective instead of just relying on my own experience as a Land Governance Director.
Our first session was a brainstorming session on items that the group thought should be in the lands manual and we worked through the list until we finished everything (attached are the items). Each meeting was dedicated to certain topics and participants were asked to come prepared with the tools and practices they use at their First Nation. During the meetings we broke into smaller groups to work on an individual topic and we would review each group’s assigned task for all to make amendments or comments.
The topics include core functions of developing policy and procedure within an operational First Nations Land Governance office. Some of the key topics: work plans, budget, forms, checklists, templates, “how to” documents, and cheat sheets. These documents are meant to be a guide that can be modified to meet the specific needs of each operational First Nation within the Framework Agreement.
We managed to get a lot of work done in these sessions and created a very good network. For some of the new lands people it gave them great exposure and knowledge on how to do the work they were hired to do. Just knowing that the resources are available to do almost every task in a Land Governance office was a comfort to everyone.
I would like to personally thank the First Nations that hosted the sessions at no charge to us. I also want to acknowledge the following participants that took time out of their busy day to be a part of this project: Brittney Friesen, Lands Manager at Squiala; Corrinne Cyderman, Lands Manager for Skowkale, Aitchelitz & Yawkwioose (SAY); Brittany Hall, Land Clerk for SAY; Deanna Honeyman, Lands Manager for Tzeachten; Samantha Bisaillon, Lands Officer for Tzeachten; Debra Schneider, Lands Manager for Skawahlook; Jennifer Campbell, Lands Manager for Seabird Island (LABRC); Donna Andrew, Lands Clerk for Seabird Island; Tannis Tommy, Lands & Resources Officer for Sumas; including Angie Derrickson, LABRC and Denise Kelly, LABRC.
Valerie Sam, Manager: Fraser Valley, LABRC
• Review and update to include the last 1.5 of think tank participation
• Create thank you letters & participation certificate
BIG THANKS to all of the focus group participants, Chiefs and Councils, Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre Staff, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Sto:lo Nation and other professionals Murray Browne, David Harper and if we missed anyone or any organization we truly apologize.
This Manual was prepared as a resource tool by the Resource Centre to assist First Nations in adopting their own Land Management Regimes. The content of the Manual is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. First Nations working to adopt their own Land Management Regimes are advised to seek specific legal advice regarding their legal issues.
NOTE TO FIRST NATIONS IN QUEBEC
Since 2001, the federal Parliament has adopted a process of harmonizing federal law with Quebec’s Civil Law. To do so, it undertook to modify certain laws in order to ensure that they take into consideration the Civil Law (in Quebec) and the Common Law (in the rest of Canada). This process does not have the effect of modifying the areas of jurisdiction of the federal or provincial governments. Federal law, however is not a judicial system in and of itself, rather it is fed by the application of the provincial rules, particularly in the area of property and civil law.
It was in this spirit that the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (Amendment #4) and the First Nations Land Management Act were revised in 2007. Subsequently, the First Nations Land Registry Regulations (SOR/2007-231) was adopted.
The terminology in these texts takes into account the terms used in the Common Law and the Civil Law, in French and in English. For example, the terms “land right” (droits fonciers) corresponds to the terminology in the Civil Law while in the Common Law we refer to “interests” (intérêts). Bi-juralism does not have the effect of creating a different Framework for First Nations in Quebec, but it is necessary to pay particular attention when it is being applied in that province, particularly with respect to the formulation of land codes.
This Manual is meant to be a useful tool and a help for all First Nations signatories regardless of their location. This is why this text was revised in French and English to take into account of the different concepts applicable and notes were added to the text with Quebec First Nations in mind. On occasions where two terms are juxtaposed, the term in Common Law will precede the Civil Law terms: interest/land right (QC), and the civil law term will be written in blue.
The examples provided to facilitate the work in developing a land code (websites, existing First Nations laws, development plans, etc.) are those developed by First Nations outside of Quebec. These examples have yet to be developed by Quebec First Nations and therefore, the examples provided need to be adapted to reflect these bi-juridical concepts and the unique circumstances in Quebec. It is recommended that Quebec First Nations should seek additional support from the staff at the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre.