JESSICA HUME | QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA — In a rare moment of harmony between the Harper government and First Nations, 28 bands signed a First Nations Land Management Regime (FNLMR) on Thursday.
The latest signing ceremony brings the number of bands that have signed on to 110.
The FNLMR allows signatories to circumvent 34 sections of the Indian Act that give decision-making powers over land use to the minister of aboriginal affairs and the department.
The FNLMR covers daily land use issues such as licensing, leasing, and obtaining a forestry permit.
Once bands have signed on, the next step is to develop land-use codes and establish their own laws for land and resource use — all things they would otherwise have to ask the feds for permission to pursue.
Chief Robert Louie of the First Nations Land Advisory Board said the agreement gives First Nations more opportunities to contribute economically to their own communities and to Canada at large.
"Adding more First Nations into land management will help propel much-needed economic prosperity capabilities into the lives and communities of First Nations," he said.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said he hopes to continue working with bands to get more of them to sign on.
Chief Austin Bear of the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre said the agreement is important to First Nations' right to self-determination.
"It is a catalyst to self-sufficiency, state-of-the-art infrastructure and governance models driven by our values and traditional ways," he said.