Evidence of meeting #33 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was process.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Could you name a couple of examples in other parts of the world? I'm thinking the committee might want to look at—

4:05 p.m.

President, New Road Strategies, As an Individual

Warren Johnson

Downtown London, England.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Okay, downtown London, England.

4:05 p.m.

President, New Road Strategies, As an Individual

Warren Johnson

It's crown land. You can only lease it.

I haven't done a detailed study on this. This is just what I've heard in discussion with people who should know. There are parts of New England in the United States, a good part of Southeast Asia.... They're former Commonwealth lands. They're called Commonwealth realms. They maintain that sort of crown status and you can only lease land. That's true in the Australian Capital Territory as well.

Those places I've named happen to be the world's major financial districts, and one of them is a major growth engine in the world economy. They don't have any trouble operating with leased lands.

That's not to say if a first nation's preference is to get into a fee simple arrangement they shouldn't be doing that. My concern, as you've seen from the remarks I've provided to committee, is that in the current situation there are tools, with adequate resourcing and authorities, that first nations could be using, which are satisfactory and which might be satisfactory to a large number of first nations, and certainly are satisfactory to some of the major economies in the world.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

In other words, fee simple shouldn't be seen as a panacea to solve economic development issues on first nations territories. What in fact needs to happen is a number of the other things you've outlined in your presentation, whether they be bylaws, or environmental protection, or land-use planning—those kinds of things need the resources, the tools, and the support, whether it's fee simple, or leased, or certificates of possession, or customary tradition.

4:05 p.m.

President, New Road Strategies, As an Individual

Warren Johnson

My impression is that in Canada we've fallen into a little bit of a false debate. I think, originally, as a straw man it was posited that all the efforts have gone in to make the reserve system and the Indian Act, or however it's been touted by the speaker, work, but it doesn't work, so we need to do things differently. Therefore, you jump over to this fee simple discussion.

The point is that the whole Indian Act system, the whole relationship with first nations—take it from whenever—has never been made to work.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Thank you, Mr. Johnson.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

I think we're going to have a good discussion here today. There are going to be a lot of questions.

Mr. Clarke, we're going to turn to you for your seven minutes.

May 1st, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much to the witnesses for coming here today.

Chief, from what I understand, Saskatchewan is almost in a unique situation. There are 74 first nations, and only a handful of them actually participate in the First Nations Land Management Act. From what I understand, I see the economic potential of the First Nations Land Management Act benefiting northern Saskatchewan.

From the conversation we had coming to the committee, in regard to the capacity of the Prince Albert Grand Council, for instance, how many are actually participating in the First Nations Land Management Act, or are actually negotiating in that process?

4:05 p.m.

Vice-Chief, Prince Albert Grand Council

Brian Hardlotte

In the Prince Albert Grand Council I don't think any of the first nations, that I'm aware of, participate in the First Nations Land Management Act.

I can say that the province initiated what it called land-use plans. I'm aware that some first nations participate in land-use plans.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Can you explain the process or what land-use plans are, what the province is in negotiations with right now?

4:05 p.m.

Vice-Chief, Prince Albert Grand Council

Brian Hardlotte

The land-use plans were started in the nineties, and it's the province that pretty much had the lead role in developing these plans.

The one I am familiar with is for my ancestral lands area. It's called the Missinipi integrated land use plan. My first nation, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, participated in this land-use plan. It covers 3.9 million hectares of territory—12,045 square miles. It's a huge area.

The land-use plan is a strategic government and first nations document that identifies lands and resource management issues. It's a road map that sets the direction for present and future management, use, and development of a major part of the ancestral lands. That process is still there.

For the process in the Missinipi, you had regional meetings; you had local advisory meetings. When the land use was planned, an elders gathering was held and the land-use plan was provided by translation to the elders.

The whole process took somewhere like 10 years; it was a 10-year process. It's not a one-year process to develop a land-use plan. To this date, that I'm aware of, it hasn't really passed and gone into legislation.

I am also aware that there are other land-use plans in our neighbouring first nations that were done and have been passed into legislation. In my opinion, those other land-use plans were done very quickly.

I hope that answers your question.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Partly.

Now with the First Nations Lands Management Act that the government is proposing, in working with other first nations we've seen the benefits to some of the communities just in Saskatchewan alone, such as with the Whitecap Dakota. They've participated, and you've seen the economic benefits there, through private ownership of their lands, the casinos, the golf courses. We've seen them progress to where they only have a handful of people on economic assistance.

I'm wondering what stage PAGC, Prince Albert Grand Council, is at in regard to negotiations under the First Nations Land Management Act. What stage are you at?

4:10 p.m.

Vice-Chief, Prince Albert Grand Council

Brian Hardlotte

There are no first nations that are really engaged in that process, that I'm aware of.

On the Whitecap Dakota, compared to some of the bigger first nations within the Prince Albert Grand Council, their numbers are very low.

We haven't really engaged in that process with the federal government.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

What's happening in the negotiations? What's preventing PAGC from progressing further?