Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's good to be back with the committee.
I want to thank Vice-Chief Hardlotte and Mr. Johnson for being here today.
I did read your paper on additions to reserve, Mr. Johnson. At the beginning of your paper, under the communal nature of reserves lands, it says:
These rules, which largely focus on the federal government’s colonial role of intervening in dealings between First Nations and third parties, are antiquated and inadequate and serious gaps are evident throughout.
You also pointed out that interest in communal property has never really been given a chance to work on reserves in Canada. I also want to mention that there are many other people who have done work on this matter, about whether private property on reserves is the way to go, whether some form of fee simple would be beneficial. I'm from British Columbia, where there is some form of fee simple, and many concerns have been raised about it.
I want to refer to Mark Stevenson. Stevenson characterizes the questions of the tenure of treaty settlement lands as a tough issue, one that has become a problem area for some first nations because of the dogmatic insistence of both the federal and provincial governments that lands set aside as treaty settlement lands not retain their status as 91(24) lands, or lands reserved for Indians. He goes on to say that it's one way for the federal government to get out of its fiduciary responsibility.
In British Columbia, and in other places in Canada, first nations have been very concerned about any move towards fee simple lands because it signals to them that the federal government is washing its hands of its responsibilities.
We hear of the ongoing underfunding with respect to bylaws, land-use planning, environmental regulations, and funding for the bureaucrats to enforce these things. I wonder if you could comment on what advantages or disadvantages you see with fee simple lands, private lands, on reserve.