Williams Lake Indian Band has jumped over a huge hurdle when it comes to managing its own land.
During a three-day voting session, 180 band members voted, and 85 per cent were in favour of proceeding toward a First Nations Land Management (FNLM) agreement.
The band will no longer be under the land management provisions of the Indian Act.
“In the future, leasing and management by the band will be held by us exclusively,” WLIB Chief Ann Louie said.
“It means we don’t have to go through Aboriginal and Northern Affairs to get approval.”
The certification was verified Tuesday and sent off to the Minister, now the band has to work on developing laws around land management, Louie said.
In the past, business development involving WLIB land has been a slow process, taking years sometimes, and causing long delays.
“Even our individual band businesses struggled because it took so long to work with the federal government. Now it will be in our own hands.”
In 2008, WLIB agreed to become involved in the FNLM process.
There are more and more bands participating, it’s becoming more common, Louie said.
The Coyote Rock development along the Highway 97 corridor, south of Williams Lake, continues to proceed.
Once all the infrastructure is in place, the band will be able to establish residential and commercial leases.
IR No. 1 is approximately 4,000 acres, Louie said.