Evidence of meeting #34 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 land.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:15 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

Yes. Back in 1994, the forest industry was doing fairly well across the country. We had some of the best wood there to take advantage of, but we could not get a permit because it was not part of the first nation's land or it wasn't deemed in-reserve. We could not get a permit from Indian Affairs to start looking, so we had to move on other areas.

Again, it was unfortunate we lost these opportunities. We were gearing up, in terms of the whole lands management aspect. We went as far as negotiating with the Province of Ontario to establish, I believe it was, the first first nations conservation officer program in the province of Ontario. Because of the timeframes and the lack of financial resources, that program was dissolved.

Again, I am a member of Mississauga First Nation. I was working in that capacity in the late 1990s, but I did leave because other areas were starting to move. To come back again and see a similar process still occurring where nothing can move—it does get frustrating. We lose a lot of our technical people, because what was an opportunity is still on hold. These other opportunities do surface, and they tend to move on, because that’s where the opportunities are.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

I certainly appreciate the frustration.

Sorry, Julie, go ahead.

4:15 p.m.

Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Julie Pellerin

I want to add to that. I have been working with Mississauga for I don't know how many years now. What's interesting with Mississauga is that when they were going through the land description report process, they discovered they had only 0.16 acres. So when they say they have had only a few months now of really trying to benefit from economic development, their land code was implemented on 0.16 acres, a vacant little piece of grassland, basically. For them, their opportunities are upcoming now, with the addition of lands added to the individual agreement. Not only have they faced delays in processing the additions to reserve, but also in processing the individual agreement once the OIC was signed.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Just in terms of the big picture, could you mention one or two of the bigger opportunities you see for Mississauga as a result of this?

4:15 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

I think one is the forestry side of things. I think the other aspect is going to be the land leasing. We're well aware of what's going on across the country with other first nations. That seems to be the way to go. With 23 inland lakes, the possibilities are there and are endless. Again, we are going to do it in a sustainable way and make sure that all planning procedures are there and in place.

The other issue would be the forestry and to move on forestry, but as Keith said, the sector is really suffering big time now, and it's not something you're going to get rich quick on.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Thanks, James.

I have another question before we run out of time here. What kinds of economic development opportunities does the FNLM provide your first nation that you would not have had under the Indian Act land management regime?

4:20 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Here's a perfect example. Because it was under the Indian Act, we lost out on the opportunity for a solar farm, 50 acres of land, probably around $120,000 annually. We couldn't do anything because we couldn't move on it. We were waiting for this process, for the lands to be...one was the additions to reserve, and then getting the amendment signed. I have to acknowledge that the amendment only took a year and a half. It was supposed to be only...was it a six-week or a six-month turnaround? Compared to the ATR, it was commendable, but again our problem was that it was the ATR people who basically caused us the delays or the grief. They were ones who had the input. They were the ones who were part of the settlement agreement.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Keith or Julie, do you have any other comments?

4:20 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

The inland lakes, the whole process.... We lost an opportunity in other areas. Because of the nature of our land base, we had no way to protect all sides of it, in terms of monitoring. So people come and go. They started taking resources that we could have taken full advantage of and capitalized on, promoting services such as hunting and fishing and to some extent forestry operations. But due to our inability to have the staff, due to lack of capacity in that area, we just couldn't monitor out there on a timely basis, and the province was very reluctant to get involved because of the nature of the land.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Mr. Payne.

We'll turn to Mr. Genest-Jourdain for five minutes.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Good afternoon, Mr. Cada. Do you understand French?

4:20 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

No, I can hear it.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

During your presentation, I think you mentioned the fact that there are three abandoned mining sites on your territory and that the land had to be rehabilitated. Did your community benefit during that rehabilitation? Do you have the workforce, the technology and the know-how to rehabilitate mining sites and environmentally contaminated sites?

4:20 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

The three abandoned sites were very small. I think one was probably about 65 feet deep. The largest I think was 300 and required a concrete cap. The other two were basically backfilled. No, we did not see any benefits from those sites due to the nature.... It was something that was done quickly and by the Ministry of Natural Resources, as that was part of their duty prior to the transfer to Canada for the lands, to make sure they were free and clear. So, no, we didn't see any benefits. I'm glad it was done expeditiously by the province.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

In your presentation, you mentioned the possibility of having recourse with federal government agencies, given how poorly certain parcels of your reserve territory have been managed, but that you were reluctant to seek a remedy because it might undermine future economic claims or processes or territorial development.

Could you expand on that and tell us a little more about this problem?