A Prairie-based researcher says a proposal in B.C. to allow Nisga’a band members to own their own land is an idea worth studying.
Joseph Quesnel of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy says allowing individual residents to own land fee simple will allow them to enter the modern economy.
Quesnel explains that homeowners will then be able to use their property as security for things like business loans or to build equity.
He says this idea differs from others in the past because in this case the individual will be free to sell their property to anyone, even non band members.
He notes the Nisga’a are under modern treaty rules, though, and new legislation will have to be passed before bands across the country can do the same thing.
"What’s different is because the Nisga’a are under the modern treaty, the title to the land is not held by the Crown. They were able to negotiate it so the land went to the First Nation government involved. So it’s easier in that sense, but I don’t think that there’s anything to prevent the enactment of a law at a federal level, or a significant amendment to the Indian Act, that would allow First Nations to opt into kind of a land ownership act," Quesnel says.
Quesnel says the Nisga’a government will still be able to control land use, and any new residents will still be subject to Nisga’a law.
He thinks the federal government could come on board with the idea, if enough bands across the country show interest.