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Evidence of meeting #34 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 lands.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

James Cada  Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation
Keith Sayers  Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation
Julie Pellerin  Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Jean-Marie David

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

It sounds as if there are too many processes.

My time is up, but thank you, James. I appreciate it.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Mr. Rickford.

Ms. Bennett, we'll turn to you now for seven minutes.

May 3rd, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

As the parliamentary secretary stated, you're very experienced in managing land.

I was just wondering if you've had time to look at the budget implementation act and the changes in division 46 of the act to the First Nations Land Management Act and the number of pages there that would affect first nations land management.

4:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Unfortunately, no, we haven't. Usually a lot of that we leave to, I would say, our colleagues, the Lands Advisory Board, to advise us on those issues. We are aware of the new funding increases we received, and we're more than grateful for that, because we knew the dollars we were getting weren't enough.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

With respect to that need for “free, prior, and informed consent” on laws affecting first nations in Canada, according to the rights of indigenous peoples, it seems that there are quite significant changes in this budget act. I don't know whether the advisers were asked.

It seems that land surveys are no longer required. The verb has been changed: the “Surveyor General may prepare”. It seems that legal descriptions have been changed, and it seems that no longer are the environmental management agreements necessary. I was just wondering how much consultation had been done on these rather significant changes to the First Nations Land Management Act before the bill was tabled.

4:05 p.m.

Julie Pellerin Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

The way the Lands Advisory Board works on these amendments...and these amendments are always improvements to the framework agreement—the framework agreement is the underlying document. The act is amended after the framework agreement is amended. The first nations that are in operation are actually the ones that help develop the amendments and the improvements. The reason the changes were made to the land description report was that we had noticed that land description reports were being held up, and they affected the first nation's ability to vote on their land code. The reason for that is if there is an uncertainty as to the status of the land, then the land description report cannot be completed until the research has been done to clearly identify if it is reserve land.

So the changes to the framework agreement will assist in developing administrative lines that will be able to set aside land where the title is uncertain in order to facilitate the first nation being able to go to a vote. The new funding and the new memorandum of understanding are based on a 24-month timeline, which is actually very doable. But in order to be able to do that, NRCan and Canada have to be able to complete a land description report in a timely fashion.

The environmental management agreement.... That's not to say that there is no environmental management or environmental assessment under a land code, but what we've noticed is that the first nation has not been able to implement any because the environmental management agreement requires Canada to come to the table, and we have not been able to get Environment Canada to agree to an environmental management agreement for any of our 37 first nations that have land codes. This is exactly what self-government first nations are able to do. They implement their own environmental management laws, their own environmental assessment agreements, and they're based on good practice and on the notion of trying to match them up with other jurisdictional laws, so that they're consistent, so the minimum standard will be there.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

I guess what I'm really asking the chair and the parliamentary secretary is whether or not we could have a technical briefing on the changes that are in the budget implementation act before we're asked to vote on that—maybe including the advisory board.

In my question on the order paper, the part for your band or first nation, Mississauga No. 8—is that correct?

4:10 p.m.

Voices

Yes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

It did have that you put in that request—this is on the ATRs and the number across the country—May 28, 1994 and completed March 25, 2010. Then there's another one that says “NA” that they don't have any information on, which they say is active.

Do you think you could help the department get this a little bit more complete in terms of what they've put on the order paper with respect to your band?

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

We would have to see that order paper.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

“NA” apparently means they don't have any information.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Who doesn't? The department doesn't?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Well, “NA” means not available, and it would require additional time to conduct archival research to obtain the proposal date.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Again, maybe the—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

I was just going to say that maybe we could table this here with this committee, in terms of all of the ATRs that are outstanding across the country, and maybe that would allow first nations to verify what's here.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Excuse me, maybe it was just the terminology you used, but we had thorough consultation and input in regard to a recall of amendment 5, and basically that sounds like everything you're talking about. Mississauga First Nation is actually now probably ready to proceed to step three under the old environmental management planning process. Because we don't have a lot of environmental issues, we're moving forward, and hopefully that will get signed off and then we can actually, probably, have laws. I think we were looking at a timeline, at least in regard to waste management, by the end of this calendar year.

So yes, I think there were...just by the terminology used. But we were consulted and we did provide a lot of input.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Bennett.

We'll turn to Mr. Payne for seven minutes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Chair, could we ask the department for a technical briefing on the changes to the Land Management Act? It is a bit surprising that that would be put in this document before this study has even been completed.

Also, I will give the clerk the questions I had on the order paper so they can be circulated to all members of the committee.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

At committee business, I think we can discuss if it's something that we as a committee want to do—to have a technical briefing here. That would be something totally workable.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Whichever, yes.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

If it's something you want to set up with the parliamentary secretary, I'm certain he can do that as well. We can discuss that at future business, for sure.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

We will turn to Mr. Payne now.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, James, Keith, and Julie for coming today.

As you know, we are talking about land use and sustainable development. Your testimony here today is extremely important in that we hear your version of what is going on. Being that you were a signatory to the first nations land management regime with your operational land code—I believe you said you had that in 2009—can you tell us how the entry into the FNLM has been an important step forward for the Mississauga First Nation’s economic situation?

I'm not sure who wants to respond to that, but any or all would be fine.

4:15 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

I would say the biggest thing for us is that we see a future, a future that we control, and one that is based on our timelines, as we move along. Decisions are going to be made by the community. Unfortunately, in all honesty, we are actually legally into it for, what, three months? We haven't had time to really enjoy it all, but we do realize which direction we are heading in.

I think we explained earlier about the losses. Well, some of those losses—the forest can be redone, but there are some others that have been lost, because if you haven't cut it, it's probably dead and gone by now after 10 years.