Since 2014, OneFeather has worked with First Nations across Canada to hold important Land Code votes through our electronic voting and vote management services.
We have put together a series of frequently asked questions to help give you a better understanding of what Land Code is all about.
What is a Land Code?
A Land Code is a law created by a First Nation to replace the 32 land management sections of the Indian Act. If members of a First Nation vote yes to a Land Code, this means that the Government of Canada no longer has a say in how the community’s reserve lands are managed.
What is the Individual Agreement?
The Individual Agreement is the agreement between a First Nation and Canada which identifies the lands the Land Code applies to, when the transfer of responsibility for land management will happen, and how much funding the community will receive to manage the reserve lands. First Nation members must vote in favour of the Land Code and the Individual Agreement for the Land Code to take effect.
What is the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management?
The Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management was signed in 1996 by First Nations and Canada. It is an initiative for First Nations to opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act and take over responsibility for the management and control of their reserve lands and resources. The first Land Code was passed by Muskoday First Nation and came into effect in 2000. Today, more than 70 First Nations have implemented their own Land Codes.
Are First Nation members involved in the development of the Land Code?
Yes. The contents of the Land Code are created by the membership of a First Nation. Typically, a Land Code Development Committee is formed to be responsible for developing the draft Land Code for the First Nation. This committee will hold community meetings with members to develop policy for the Land Code. Once a draft of the Land Code is put together, it will be circulated in the community for feedback.
Does the Land Code need community approval?
Yes. In order for a First Nation to take control over its lands, the Land Code and the Individual Agreement must be ratified by the members of the First Nation. The procedure for the Community Ratification Process (CRP) is developed in accordance with the Framework Agreement. A CRP document will be put together to outline the details of the entire process. The ratification procedure includes a thorough method to locate all eligible voting members, providing everyone with the opportunity to vote.
Is there a verification process?
Yes. An independent person, called a Verifier, is appointed by the First Nation and then the appointment is confirmed by Canada. This individual will oversee and confirm that both the Community Ratification Process (CRP) and the Land Code are consistent with the Framework Agreement. Once that is established, the process of monitoring the ratification is conducted by the Verifier in agreement with the CRP.
How will accountability to members be ensured?
With a Land Code, First Nation leaders will be required to report annually to its members on its land management activities. The Land Code will also set out rules on financial accountability for its management of lands, resources and revenues. First Nation leadership is legally required to follow the laws they enact in their Land Codes.
Will the Land Code have an impact on Title and Rights?
No. The Framework Agreement guarantees that First Nation title and rights are not affected by the Land Code process. The Framework Agreement and the Land Code only deal with the sections of the Indian Act that relate to reserve land management.
Is a Land Code a Treaty?
No. A Land Code isn’t a Treaty and only deals with reserve lands. A Land Code does not affect treaty rights or other constitutional rights of First Nation members.
Is a Land Code a land surrender?
Land surrenders are not permitted under the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management. The reserve land base can never shrink, it can only be added to.
Does your First Nation have an upcoming Land Code vote? OneFeather can help make sure every member gets the opportunity to cast their vote in this important community decision. With our online voting platform, overall voter participation can increase by as much 35%, making it a lot easier to meet all the voter threshold participation requirements the first time around. Contact us for more information.