When aboriginals say they are Canadian citizens, things get easier. Like in this case. This is good multiculturalism. First Nations are not sovereign nations within or in Canada, nor do they own Canada, they are part of Canada like everyone else.

More bands gain control over natural resources | Energy | News | Financial Post

More bands gain control over natural resources

Postmedia News Apr 16, 2012 – 9:17 AM ET
REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.

By Gabrielle Tieman

Touting it as a big step toward self-sufficiency for First Nations, the federal government signed an agreement with 18 First Nations Friday to opt out of sections of the Indian Act that limit their power over property and resources.

This deal means 60 communities have now signed the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management since its enactment in 1999 —an agreement that allows First Nations to develop their own policies for controlling natural resources on their land. Where in the past the Indian Act’s designated minister made all decisions regarding the land, resources and environment of a First Nation community, the framework gives that power to the community to control what they do with their lands without outside input.

“This will allow them to operate at the speed of business and will lead to more self-sufficient communities,” said Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan. “The modernization of land management regimes is one very important element in unlocking the potential that lands and natural resources present.”

With the federal government having committed $20 million over two years to respond to the growing interest of First Nations in the program, Chief Austin Bear, chair of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre Inc., says there is no reason 65 First Nations should be on the waiting list hoping to join.

“We exercised this responsibility for hundreds and hundreds of years before the Indian Act was imposed on us over a century ago,” said Bear. “These communities want to be added as signatories to the Framework Agreement and we support the suggestion to return to this place in 2012-13 and celebrate a second signing ceremony with a group from these 65 waiting.”

Chief Robert Louie, chair of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board, says with 37 First Nations currently signed to the framework, the government is making quick returns on its investment and should push to move the process faster for the remaining 65.

“Right now, we have one of every five First Nations in Canada as part of this process or wanting to be part of the process,” said Louie. “Canada’s return has been estimated to be over 10 times the government’s investment. That’s how great the contribution to the economy is,” he added.

“We are Canadian citizens and we are contributing to this economy. The road to self sufficiency starts now and starts here.”