Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Ann Louie was in Ottawa Friday attending the Adhesion Signing Ceremony for the First Nations Land Management Initiative.
The ceremony was organized and co-ordinated by the Lands Advisory Board and will be overseen by John Duncan, minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, according to a news release from the band.
On Jan. 18 the federal government announced that 18 First Nations from across Canada, including eight from B.C., would begin a process to opt out of the 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over the reserve land and resources through the First Nations Land Management Initiative. WLIB is one of those First Nations.
“The Adhesions Signing Ceremony marks the first step in the implementation of the First Nations Land Management Initiative,” Louie says. “We’re excited to get this process started. Now the work will really begin.”
She says the band will develop a work plan and will soon turn to the task of drafting the Land Code, which will set out the rules for the management of the band’s lands.
“At the end of the day, our community will be required to approve those rules.”
According to the release, a 2009 KPMG study shows that First Nations with direct control over their reserve lands and resources under the First Nations Land Management Initiative are making decisions at the speed of business and that economic development is much greater in comparison to those whose lands are administered by the government under the Indian Act.
The release adds that many of the operational FNLMI First Nations reported a 40 per cent increase in new business overall by band members and 45 per cent increase into different types of businesses, including suppliers and spin-off businesses. These First Nations attracted about $53 million in internal investment and close to $100 million in external investment.