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Evidence of meeting #29 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was lake.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marianna Couchie  Chief, Nipissing First Nation

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Mr. Boughen.

Monsieur Gravelle for five minutes.

March 13th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Chief Couchie, for being here. Although I wasn't here for your presentation, I see in your very first line “Nipissing prides itself in being a progressive First Nation.” Having been on your land on several occasions and having heard what you've said today, it's obvious that you are a very progressive first nation. You're to be congratulated for that.

Having said that, Regional Chief Toulouse was here to make a presentation. He's a very well-respected member of his community. Chief Whiteduck also appeared before this committee, and he talked about frustrations when it came to additions to reserves.

Have you ever been asked for input as to how to improve the INAC process in order to move the process faster? If you have been asked by INAC, can you tell us what you recommended? If you haven't been asked, can you tell us what you would recommend?

5:15 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

First I want to acknowledge the two gentlemen you mentioned. I have the utmost respect for Angus Toulouse and Chief Whiteduck. We work together closely with them.

No, we've not been asked about how to speed up the ATR process. It is frustrating and it is arduous. There has to be a way. We'd gladly sit and talk about how to speed up this ATR process, the additions to reserves.

I remember when I worked for Indian Affairs back in the eighties. I worked out of the regional office, and they were developing this additions to reserves policy. At that time they said it would take five years. It has never occurred within five years for any first nation.

It would be nice to get back on the five-year process. We could live with that, but 18 years? My math is not good today, but 1995 to 2012 is a very long time. That's 17 years. It's over triple the time that we were told back in the eighties.

Maybe there are too many bureaucrats involved.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Would that be one of your recommendations?

5:15 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:15 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

Clear out the layers. I'm always amazed when I come to Ottawa and I go to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the office towers. I think, “Holy gee, this is where our money is going. It's all going to Ottawa employees.”

I think that's one way we could start to up our public works department budgets. How many people—especially when it comes to lands management—need to be involved today when we do the transactions that we look after? We still have to file estates with Indian Affairs. That takes one person. I went through that with my parents when they passed on.

I don't know. Those are my observations every time I go to the towers.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

How much time is left?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

You have 40 seconds.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

I'll pass it on to my colleague.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I have a couple of quick things. First, it took seven years for you to get into the land management regime. I'm wondering if there were any challenges there or anything you would change.

With respect to land managers and training, have they received the proper training? Are they in need of training? Are there challenges there?

I also have a quick comment with respect to the matrimonial real property law. I know some first nations have implemented that, and it wasn't the fact that they went to land management, because they don't have that, but they've still been able to achieve it.

I leave it with you for your comments.

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

When we were getting ready for the land code enactment, there was a lot of communication. I remember receiving document after document about the land code and what it would mean to us. And it passed. There was no.... Anybody who had questions had the opportunity to have them answered. We did. Typically, you don't send your members a huge document and say, here it is. You send it off in a couple of pages, so bit by bit it's digested by the people.

Yes, our land manager and our assistant land manager have gone through training. Because our existing land manager is so experienced, she's the one who ends up doing a lot of the training for new land managers. I don't know who is in charge of training for land managers, probably the LAB. We have more experience.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Chief. We're going to turn to Mr. Payne for the last questions.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Chief, for coming today. It's important to hear your testimony. Also, thank you for your patience while we trundled out to do some voting.

You touched briefly on the Lands Advisory Board and resource centre. We were talking about the training of land managers. Have you had the opportunity to work with them, and do you have any comments or recommendations on any of their roles?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

Yes, I've had the opportunity to work with them. They wanted to borrow our lands manager for course development.

I have the utmost respect for Chief Robert Louie as the chair of the Lands Advisory Board. They're coming along. I remember my first meeting with the Lands Advisory Board, and I was shocked that they didn't have audio-visual equipment. They were asking us to look at this little projector screen. Now they use PowerPoint.

I like the Lands Advisory Board. I think they're doing a good job.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Is there anything more you think they could do to help first nations?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

They could lobby for more money for us.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

I think I left myself open for that, didn't I?

My next question to you, Chief, is what types of lessons might other first nations take from your economic and land management successes?

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

We've always been open with our bylaws.

We have proven ourselves to be leaders among the Robinson Huron Treaty first nations. Our bylaws are borrowed. Our administration laws are borrowed. Anything we have developed that would help a band to advance in their land code is open.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Basically what you're saying is that any time you have any particular land codes or regulations, you're open to sharing those with any other first nation.

5:20 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

Definitely. Our bylaws are borrowed quite frequently, and our governing laws are as well.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

That's good to hear. On behalf of all the other first nations, I want to thank you for that.

What are the legislative and regulatory obstacles to economic development related to land-use management for your community? What recommendations would you have for addressing them?

5:25 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

I addressed the fact that we need dollars for infrastructure development.

In the second industrial park we're building there's such a demand to rent or lease space from us that we can't accommodate all of the people.

I talked about the first phase. On this land we are developing, we know that we can put up additional facilities. First and foremost, we need infrastructure help. It's a lot of money to get gas over there. We have found water, but we need three-phase power to handle it. Once we get that crown corporation housed in our second industrial park, they're going to need that type of power to operate.

We want to build space for incubator businesses. It would be a space to help people develop their businesses.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Do I have time?

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

You have ten seconds if there's something you can accomplish with that.

5:25 p.m.

Chief, Nipissing First Nation

Chief Marianna Couchie

You can take one slap shot.