The Rise of the First Nations Land Management Regime in Canada: A Critical Analysis

What are the benefits of the FNLMA regime and the threats?

How are communities transformed through the land code process?

Does FNLMA represent a substantive form of self-determination?


FEDERAL BUDGET 2018 CONTAINS significant investments in the First Nations Land Management regime. In December 2018, the First Nations Land Management Act was also amended, lowering the voting threshold for ratification and offering First Nations increased flexibility in investing or spending funds generated under the First Nations Land Management Act.

As Canada moves towards a strategy of sectoral self-governance—slowly deconstructing the Indian Act rather than negotiating all-encompassing self-governance agreements—the management of reserve lands is becoming a critical component of this model and a supposed means for First Nations to ‘catch up’ to the speed of business and build prosperity for their communities.

Though the Land Code may provide First Nations with some increased jurisdiction over reserve lands, it does not fundamentally challenge the allocation of land beyond reserves (territory). Also, by opening up reserve lands to the market, it may further contribute to the dispossession of land for First Nations people.

We find ourselves at a similar juncture faced by First Nations people in the 1960’s: we are being forced to defend the arcane nature of the Indian Act in order to protect our current rights.

The report is divided into three sections:

Part One:
First Nations Land Management Foundations

a. Political Economy of the First Nations Land Management Regime
b. Who Benefits from Reserve Marketization?
c. Limitations of Indian Act / Settler Colonial Governance

Part Two:
First Nations Land Management Processes

a. Getting Started with Land “Management”
b. The (Evolving) Rules for Community Ratification
c. What is the Case for FNLMA?

Part Three:
Managing Treaty and Non-Treaty Lands

a. Land Codes and Historic Treaties
b. Modern Treaties and (potential) Privatization

Image: “Good Land” by Christi Belcourt. Acrylic on canvas. 

Used with permission from the artist. 

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