and change is very slow to come by. Yet, the federal govt can't keep pumping
billions of dollars each year into them through the Dept of Indian Affairs and EI. Not to mention provincial govts spending many millions more on welfare.
Time for some reform and open up private property rights on reserves for aboriginals. They all use modern technology like the intenet anyways, time to use modern ideas like buying and selling property.
www.thestarphoenix.com/entert...669/story.html (external - login to view)
Property rights key to First Nations development: expert
By Bruce Johnstone, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-PostApril 6, 2010
First Nations need property rights to fully unlock the economic potential of their land and escape the vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment, University of Calgary Prof. Tom Flanagan said Monday.
"First Nations don't own the land on which they live. It's owned by the federal government," Flanagan told a luncheon hosted by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
"That's the root of the problem. This peculiar regime of property rights spelled out in the Indian Act makes it difficult to do things," said Flanagan, who has authored several books on Louis Riel, the Northwest Rebellion and aboriginal land claims.
Specifically, the Indian Act makes it difficult, if not impossible, to buy and sell property on a reserve without permission from the federal government and the band council, as well as a referendum of band members.
"So to do any major project turns into a lawyer's feast," said Flanagan, a well-known conservative political activist who served as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political adviser and campaign manager.
As a result, economic development projects on reserve lands cost far more in both time and money than similar projects on non-reserve lands, according to Andre Le Dressay, who teaches economics at Thompson Rivers University in
Kamloops, B.C. He co-authored the book Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights with Flanagan.
"When you compare an on-reserve development with an off-reserve development, it takes four to six times longer and costs four to six times more to do development on-reserve," said Le Dressay, who was born and raised in Regina.
Le Dressay, who is also director of Fiscal Realities, a B.C.-based consulting firm that advises First Nations on economic development projects, said some First Nations, such as the Nisga'a in B.C., are attempting to offer band members the right to purchase land on the reserve.
"Once that's complete, they will be the first indigenous community in the world to have done that," Le Dressay said. But the Nisga'a process has taken 30 years and has cost the band millions of dollars in legal fees and other costs.
What Flanagan and Le Dressay are proposing -- a separate piece of legislation that would accompany the Indian Act -- would allow First Nations to buy and sell reserve lands and, more importantly, borrow money using their title as collateral.
The proposal could work for any First Nation community in the country, Le Dressay said. Just looking at 68 First Nations in B.C., the increased land value, if 40 per cent their land was converted to fee simple ownership, would be $3.8 billion over 15 years.
"Think of what $3.8 billion would do, with respect to access to credit. It would . . . unleash a wave of entrepreneurism and opportunity," Le Dressay said.
Considering First Nations own 2.6 million hectares of land in Canada -- four times the size of P.E.I. -- the potential increase in land value would be astronomical, even if a fraction of the land was converted.
But that land would always remain on a First Nations reserve and be subject to First Nations jurisdiction. More importantly, it would be up to First Nations themselves to take advantage of the proposed legislation.
"It's an optional piece of legislation," Le Dressay said. "We hope that five or 10 First Nations take an interest in it, but we also hope that it will be like any other great idea. It'll start out small and grow into something great."
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix