First Nations want property rights, but on our own terms – by Jody Wilson-Raybould (Globe and Mail – August 10, 2012)posted in Aboriginal Non-Mining Issues, Canadian/International Media Resource Articles |
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
Jody Wilson-Raybould is the Assembly of First Nations’ Regional Chief of British Columbia.
First Nations are in a period of nation-building or rebuilding, taking back control of our lives after years of colonial rule and being governed as wards of the state by Canada under the Indian Act. Our nations are considering how they govern themselves (their core institutions of government) and what they govern (their jurisdictions). Central to this discussion is determining an appropriate system of land tenure that reflects a particular nation’s culture and traditions while also supporting the development of an economy.
This necessarily includes a conversation about what types of legal interests in land can be created, who can hold them and how they are recorded. Every nation that has gone through the process of moving beyond the Indian Act has undertaken this work – work required to translate hard-fought-for aboriginal rights into practical and real change on the ground in each of our communities.
As a result of our nations’ governance-rebuilding work, there are already many different types of land-tenure systems on First Nation lands; systems that support property rights and, to use the language of economist Hernando de Soto, “unlock the capital” of First Nation lands.
These systems have been developed carefully in order to ensure that collective interests in the land remain so our people have a place they can live and practise our respective cultures and maintain “community.” And to ensure that the primary economic gain from the capital created in our land goes to our citizens (either collectively through our governments or to individuals as property owners) and not to third parties and potential speculators.
The land tenure discussion in our communities has, therefore, not been just about what is needed to make the land more marketable or provide security of tenure, but how to do so while maintaining a community and collective rights. When it comes to property systems, both domestically on or off reserve, and internationally, there are, of course, many ways to govern.
Recently, there has been talk of a proposed federal First Nations Property Ownership Act (FNPOA), which reflects a particular ideological approach to land ownership. The manner in which this proposed bill has been promoted suggests there is no property ownership on First Nation lands today.
For the rest of this column, please go to the Globe and Mail website: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/columnists/first-nations-want-property-rights-but-on-our-own-terms/article4472569/