The Constitution Act of 1867 gives Parliament authority over “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians.” The Indian Act, in place since 1876, was passed by Parliament under this authority and sets out the land management responsibilities of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for much of the reserve lands in Canada.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) provides land management services to more than 600 First Nations and covers more than 2,800 reserves with over 3 million hectares of reserve land across Canada. Land management generally includes activities related to the ownership, use and development of land for personal, community and economic purposes.
AANDC personnel carry out provisions of the Indian Act and work with First Nations to:
•Approve the allotment of reserve land to individuals
•Prepare transactions for reserve surrenders and designations
•Manage proposals for additions of land to reserves
•Review and approve transfers of land between band members
•Approve and enforce leases, licenses and permits on reserve lands
First question – how does a band member own land ?
Is owning band land like a non Indian owning non-reserve land ?
If you live in a home but you do not own the home – who insures it ?
If you live in a home but it is not owned by you – do you make payments ?
What happens if it is flooded out or burns down ?
Interesting question leading to a dialogue.
As identified in the Indian Act, reserve land is “a tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, which has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band”. Reserve lands are different from other land in that:
•Legal title to reserve lands is held by the Crown rather than by individuals or organizations;
•First Nations have a recognized interest in reserve land that includes the right to exclusive use and occupation, inalienability and the communal nature of the interest;
•The land cannot be seized by legal process or be mortgaged or pledged to non-members of a First Nation; and
•The Minister must approve or grant most land transactions under the Indian Act.