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

4:55 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Okay. Thank you very much.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Crowder.

We'll turn to Mr. Rickford.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

One of the most important words in the title of the study we're doing is “sustainable”. I think we've worked very effectively with our friends across the way here to contemplate the environment in part of this.

James, you made some clear remarks about the stewardship of a number of resources on this land and your strong desire to develop it in a sustainable way. You mentioned fishing, tourism development, and forestry.

Julie, thank you for coming and the important work that you're doing with this group. It's nice to see you back here again.

Keith said there weren't any environmental issues and that the recommendations in the environmental management agreement should be looked at as an important part of moving this process forward. But this still doesn't deal with the potential residual matter of a newly expanded land base with the potential for environmental issues to arise. We've heard about the environmental management gap, which I think contains two primary issues: capacity, which includes training, and inadequate enforcement.

Could you give us a few closing thoughts on environmental preparedness, from the perspective of both a resource person and someone on the ground?

5 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Right now, I would say we have one of the most sought after environmental workers under contract with us. We're going into our second year and we're hoping we can keep her on for the third. She has her B.Sc. and is familiar with the territory. We're really striving forward towards our plans.

We recently looked at our step two, milestone one. We have our plans in place, and the chief and council we have now are probably six to seven months into their three-year term. They've also identified this as an issue for their strategic plan over the next three years. It's all coming together, and I hope we can build the capacity you're talking about. We just had a university student visiting, and we already have a plan to bring her back into the community.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

So you feel well positioned, Julie? I know you wanted to add a piece from the broader resource work that you do.

5 p.m.

Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Julie Pellerin

Yes, the environmental management agreement was a huge stumbling block. We hope this will allow us to develop more support for our first nation, and we're currently working on that. I have another conference call next week with our consultant on developing all of these base laws.

Capacity has always been an issue and always will be. We have received much more funding for our first nations, which we appreciate, but it's still not enough to cover all the gaps within those capacities. There are huge areas that two or three staff members must be very knowledgeable in. But I think for them a lack of capacity is outweighed by the will of the first nation, whereas under Canada there was the capacity but a lack of will. So those are the areas that the first nation will be addressing.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

At the same time, Canada is recognizing that this was a major stumbling block and has received your recommendations. And I think that's consistent with the self-governing component that's built into this framework, because it says loud and clear that you are the best people to be stewards of this within this framework, with respect to the environment. Is that a fair statement?

5 p.m.

Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Julie Pellerin

Yes, and on your question on the enforcement, we'll be working on that as well. Actually, Keith and I just talked about that. It takes the engagement of the local enforcement agencies, the provinces and the government, and the first nation to work collectively on putting that together.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

I just have a quick comment. We have a first nations case services.... Mind you, they don't have the training, but in the interim we're looking at that as a possibility to the duty enforcement side of things in the environment—not only just in the environment, but also in some of the hunting and fishing activities.

5 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

It's some of the MNR stuff.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

That, colleagues, is a lesson on how not to ask a short question. You did use your full five minutes plus a little bit more. Because there are still two questioners who would like clarification on one point, I do want to ask them...if they keep it short, we could actually fit them both in. Otherwise, I'll have to pull it back.

We'll turn it to you, Mrs. Hughes, and we'll see how we go along.

5 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I would respectfully ask for a little bit of flexibility here.

I just wanted to touch base on your easement land that you talked about, with respect to the impact these outstanding issues have on your ability to maybe move forward on the FNLMA, as well as on the specific claims again. So I just want to touch base on that briefly as well.

Could you maybe tell me when was the last time you were at the negotiating table for the specific claims? I'm assuming you haven't received a final offer. I've had two other first nations in the area that have received a final offer, yet haven't been to the table for years, so they're shocked. I'm just wondering if you can maybe elaborate for me where you're really at with that, whether you are actually at the table negotiating....

Then it's just to confirm that you said there are no contaminated sites on your land and that this is likely why your FNLMA has progressed so quickly?

5:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

No. First off, in regard to the flooded lands, negotiations are ongoing. We've been trying to make sure we have a table meeting every two months. What stage are we at? Again, Canada has a rental model that's not acceptable to the first nations, so those are issues we still have to deal with. We are in the process of doing the appraisal right now. Once the appraisal is done, we're hoping that will turn the tide in regard to negotiations on that.

So yes, we are moving. I do believe that August is a good target date, provided we don't run into any stumbling blocks before then.

The first nations lands management initiative hasn't moved any faster because of no contaminants. The process, once we've passed our land code.... As we said, unfortunately, it was a year and a half to actually have those lands included. So no contaminants didn't really have an effect in regard to that, because of the process we had already started. I think I alluded to the fact that where we used each process to complement each other, we used the FNLMA process to complete an ESA that we used for the additions to reserve policy. So those types of things have gone on.

What was the third thing? The easements. The easements aren't impacting us because they're pretty straightforward. If we want to use those lands, we can use them, as long as we're not going to cause any harm or whatnot to the hydroelectric transmission lines. You don't want to be fooling around with them—230 kVA and 115 kVA—and there's a 12-inch gas line.

As I said earlier, we've gotten to the point where it really hurts because of the principle that we are not going to be the managers of those easements, as they sit now with Canada. However, we're in the process...and I'm quite confident Union Gas will sign on to an easement under our land code, and then basically cancel the agreement it has with Canada. We're hoping Ontario Hydro will do the same.

Does it really hurt because they continue to mismanage them? Yes.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

We'll turn to Mr. Wilks for the final question.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Yes, quickly. Thank you very much.

It's my understanding that some of you have received land management training. Could you tell me where you got that training, and do you have any recommendations for additional training?

5:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

For myself, I really never had any formal land management training. A lot of this has been, I guess you would say, self-taught or through experience. As I said, I've been dealing with lands since 1992. At Mississauga we're always dealing with lands and lands issues. So it was really that process itself and teaching myself.

The public administration and governance program at Ryerson was a great benefit, and it was geared with FNTI, so they meshed it with a lot of aboriginal issues. So there were some there.

I was also given the opportunity to work in Tyendinaga, which is a huge reserve. I was acting manager; I was thrown into the position for six months. You want to learn about lands issues? You learn them pretty quickly there.

Other than that, sitting at the negotiation table, moving forward, dealing with the legal counsel—that's where a lot of my training and experience have stemmed from.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

Ms. Pellerin.

5:05 p.m.

Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Julie Pellerin

To add to that, we are a fairly young organization. Our first land codes took effect, three of them, on January 1, 2000, and we have received very limited funds in order to be able to develop our capacity-building modules for the first nations.

All of the work is on the ground with the first nation. We do have a capacity-building training and professional development team. We've developed virtual resources with courselets online for the first nations, and we are in development right now for a certification program as well.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

We do want to thank our witnesses first for coming. We do appreciate your answers. Obviously when we're running out of time and pressed for time, that means we're getting great information from you and great questions, but not necessarily short ones. It's a complicated issue, and we appreciate your in-depth and on-the-ground knowledge of it.

Mr. Cada, Mr. Sayers, and Ms. Pellerin, hank you so much for coming and giving up your valuable time to share with us.

We'll now suspend for just a minute, colleagues.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I wanted to inform you, colleagues, that I've received a letter from our vice-chair, Dennis Bevington, that he is resigning his position as vice-chair. So we will seek to elect a new vice-chair. I think there's a little bit of an arrangement as to who they would like to nominate.

I'm going to move out of my seat, and our clerk will take over for that election process.

As I leave, I'd like to make a nomination of that person when I get to a different seat.

May 3rd, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Jean-Marie David

Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), the first vice-chair must be a member of the official opposition. I am now prepared to receive motions for the first vice-chair.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

I'd like to nominate Jean Crowder as first vice-chair.

5:10 p.m.

The Clerk

It has been moved by Mr. Warkentin that Ms. Crowder be elected as first vice-chair of the committee. Are there any further motions?

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

5:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.