Commonly Asked Questions and Answers
Q: What is the Framework Agreement?
A: An initiative to take over responsibility for the management and control of Sema:th lands & resources.
Q: What is a Land Code?
A: The basic land law of the First Nation. It will replace the land management provisions of the Indian Act.
Q: What is Land Management?
A: Land management involves day-to-day administration of Sema:th lands & resources and the right to make laws in respect of those lands & resources.
Q: Is this part of aboriginal self government?
A: Yes, this is one component of self government & deals only with Sema:th lands & resources.
Q: Will the fiduciary relationship between the Crown & Sema:th continue?
A: Yes, the federal Crown’s “special relationship” with Sema:th will continue. The Minister’s responsibility is less than it would have been under the Indian Act because Sema:th handles day-to-day decisions.
Q: Is this Bill an amendment to the Indian Act?
A: No, Sema:th is choosing to opt out of the land management sections of the Indian Act.
Q: Is there any continuing federal responsibility for Sema:th lands?
A: Canada will continue to hold title to the land, but will have no management authority over the land.
Q: Who is liable for damages related to Sema:th land?
A: Canada will remain liable & will indemnify Sema:th for losses suffered as a result of any act or omission BEFORE the Land Code comes into effect.
Sema:th is responsible for its own land AFTER the Land Code takes effect.
Q: What other First Nations are involved?
A: Matsqui, Tzeachten, Westbank, Tswwassen, Seabird, Tsleil-Waututh… To name a few in BC. There are 52 communities all across Canada.
Q: Are other First Nations interested in joining this initiative?
A: Yes, there is a waiting list.
Q: How does a First Nation take control of its land?
A: By creating a Land Code, entering into an Individual Agreement with Canada, Drafting a community ratification process, and doing a community vote.
Q: What is an Individual Agreement?
A: The agreement is negotiated to deal with matters such as land to be managed, specifics of the transfer, and the funding to be provided.
Q: Is the Indian Act still relevant to Sema:th after we adopt the Land Code?
A: Yes, approximately 2/3 of the Indian Act will still apply. Only the provisions dealing with land matters will not.
Q: Are Sema:th members involved in developing a Land Code?
A: Yes. Typically a lands committee is formed and keeps the community involved. When the Code begins to take shape, drafts are given to Members for comments.
Q: Does the Land Code need community approval?
A: Yes! The Land Code & Individual Agreement MUST be ratified by Sema:th Members.
Q: Are off-reserve Members involved?
A: Yes, ALL Members 18 years or older, both on and off reserve have the right to vote on the Land Code and Individual Agreement.
Q: What lands are involved?
A: All of Sema:th lands. If a reserve has more than one reserve, they could choose which reserves to be managed.
Q: Will the land management powers extend to traditional Sema:th territories?
A: No. The land management powers only relate to reserves of Sema:th.
Q: Will First Nation land be considered fee simple land?
A: No. Title to land will continue to be held by Canada but jurisdiction over the land and decision making in relation to the land will be in the hands of Sema:th.
Q: Can Sema:th make laws?
A: Yes. Sema:th Council will have the power to make laws in respect of the development, conservation, protection, management, use and possession.
Q: How will Sema:th laws be enforced?
A: Sema:th will have full power to enforce its land & environmental laws. Sema:th may incorporate summary conviction procedures of the Criminal Code. Sema:th can appoint its own justice of the peace to try offences created under FN laws & can appoint a prosecutor. The provincial court system will also be available to enforce Sema:th laws.
Q: What powers will Sema:th have?
A: All the powers of an owner in relation to its land, except control over title or the power to sell. Sema:th will be able to lease or develop their land & resources, subject to Sema:th law.
Q: What happens to existing 3rd part interests?
A: They will continue in effect according to their terms & conditions. If the landlord was the federal government, Sema:th assumes the rights & obligations under the existing lease, so the tenant would pay directly to Sema:th.
Q: How will accountability to the Members be ensured?
A: Land Code provisions are to be reported annually to Members on land management activities.
Q: Can Sema:th generate its own revenues?
A: Yes. Revenues can be generated by leasing & granting rights & licenses in Sema:th land. Sema:th can also develop its own land directly & generate profit.
Q: Is funding available to operate under a Land Code?
A: Yes. Canada provides operational funding to manage land, to make, administer & enforce laws, to administer an environmental assessment & management processes.
Q: How will the environment be protected?
A: Sema:th will have the power to make environmental laws.
Q: Do Provincial Governments support this initiative?
A: Yes. The provinces where the First Nations are located have given written support for this initiative.
Q: How do we benefit from the Framework Agreement?
A: For many reasons, including the following:
- Ability for Sema:th to protect the environment
- Right to manage reserve land & resources
- Removal of Sema:th lands from the Indian Act
- Inclusion of on & off reserve in important decisions
- Increased accountability to Members
- Land law making powers
- No need for Ministerial approval for Sema:th laws
- Ability to appoint Justice of the Peace
- & many more!!