Long Lake #58 is looking to get more businesses off the ground by signing on with the federal government’s Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management.
Long Lake #58 was one of 19 First Nations that signed the Framework Agreement on March 3, which allows them to begin the process of opting out of 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over their reserve land and resources.
“Right now, if we want to do anything, we’re under the Indian Act — if we want to build a store or a hotel or any kind of enterprise, we have to go through Indian Affairs and it takes a long time,” said Chief Allen Towegishig. “But under this land code agreement, we make our own laws and we have more freedom to govern how we are going to govern our lands.”
Towegishig said his community is currently working on the completion of an addition to reserve process that will add about 4,366 acres of land to the east side of the community, which is currently about one-square mile in size.
“Right now we’ve got no place to build our homes or anything else we want to do,” Towegishig said. “It’s going to take another two or three years to get our ATR.”
Towegishig said the community’s work on the First Nation Land Management land code will also take “another couple of years,” which will be just in time for when the community can start building on the ATR lands.
“(The community is) really excited, really happy,” Towegishig said. “They say now we’ll be able to do things on our own. They always wanted to have self government in our community.”
Long Lake #58 currently owns and operates a general store, a gas bar and a Subway restaurant on the reserve.
“We have a lot of businesses coming to talk to us every day but we tell them we cannot build anything on that new land,” Towegishig said, noting that the ATR process has to be fully completed before the land can be used.
Nine other First Nations signed onto the agreement in December 2013. The 28 First Nations are now able to manage their own land, resources and environment according to their own land codes, laws and policies under the agreement.
“The First Nations Land Management Regime is a proven and successful tool of economic development and reconciliation,” said Bernard Valcourt, minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada. “We will continue to work with interested First Nations like those represented here today to create jobs and economic opportunities, and also to achieve reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, through initiatives like the FNLM Regime.”
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