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SOME RESERVES PROSPER DESPITE INDIAN ACT LIMITATIONS

SOME RESERVES PROSPER DESPITE INDIAN ACT LIMITATIONS

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Published by mohawk1680
Shows Fee Simple title is not needed as is being pushed by the Flanagan/Jules comedy team!
Shows Fee Simple title is not needed as is being pushed by the Flanagan/Jules comedy team!

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Published by: mohawk1680 on Feb 04, 2013
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02/04/2013

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Some reserves prosper despite Indian Act limitations
 By Richard Foot, PostmediaNewsAugust 13, 2010
Atchison in 2007
 
Photograph by: Greg Pender/Postmedia News
Take a tour of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation with Chief Darcy Bear, and he’ll show you one of Canada’s top-rated golf courses, an 80,000 square foot casino, a for-profit water utility, a new housingsubdivision, as well as a new hotel under construction.Then he tells you what’s coming: a high-tech business park, aimed at luring manufacturing andaerospace jobs into the community.
Dakota Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear and Saskatoon Mayor Don
 Over the past decade Dakota Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear and his band, with the help of commercialand aboriginal partners, have transformed this small reserve of 350 people on the grasslands southof Saskatoon from an economic backwater into a hive of prosperity.
 And they’ve done it all within the confines of the federal Indian Act without the system of privatized land now being touted by some native leaders as essential to unlocking the untapped land values, and the human capita), of Canada’s First Nations.
 
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“I don’t think we have to sell off our lands to do business,” says Chief Bear. “We have to remember our traditions as First Nations people. At one time all of North America belonged to First Nations people. We can’t forget that. For me, to privatize and sell off our reserves is not the way to go.”Chief Bear and many of his counterparts are wary, and in some cases scornful, of a proposal beingcirculated by a small group of native leaders and non-native academics, to create private propertyrights on Indian reserves.Almost all aboriginal reserve land in Canada is now owned by Ottawa and the provincialgovernments, and controlled by the federal Department of Indian Affairs. Individuals cannot own property on reserves, or seek full mortgages on the homes they occupy. Similarly, companies cannot purchase reserve lands on which to develop businesses.Manny Jules, the former chief of the Kamloops Indian band in B.C., wants governments to transfer theunderlying title of reserve lands to band governments, which in turn would have the option of offeringup all or parts of a reserve to individuals or companies— native or non-native — for privateownership.The proposal has gained momentum this year with the publication of a book, Beyond the Indian Act:Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights, co-authored by Calgary political scientist and Conservativestrategist Tom Flanagan. He and Mr. Jules say the lack of private property rights on reserves breeds poverty and dependency on government, and bars native people from enjoying some of the most basiceconomic freedoms, such as using the equity in ones’ home to build wealth or even start a business.They also say there are billions of dollars worth of valuable, untapped equity lying idle on Canada’s2.6-million hectares of reserve lands.“I want to free the imagination of individuals so they can be more entrepreneurial, so we can truly begin to develop a middle class on First Nations. Through that, there will be all kinds of pressure tomake sure we have more accountable governments, more infrastructure being built, because we’ll beable to use the value of the land to lever more economic development.”But that, says Chief Bear, is exactly what he’s already doing at Whitecap Dakota, without privateownership. Over the past six years, the reserve’s unemployment rate has shrunk from 70% to five per cent; Whitecap is now a net importer of workers, with 400 people commutingthere every day for work.Aside from Whitecap’s business partnerships, the reserve also has a property tax registry, its own landcode, fully surveyed residential lots and roadways, and every inch of the reserve has been zoned by professional land-use planners.Without the freedom, or inclination, to sell its property, Whitecap attracts investors by issuing long-term leases, up to 49-years for commercial developments, 99 years for residential properties.It’s a similar story at Wikwemikong First Nation in Ontario, at the Tsuu T’ina Nation in Alberta, atWestbank First Nation in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, or at Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia.Membertou has an ISO-certified band government with roughly $80 million in annual revenues from

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