First Nation conflicts highlight need for dispute resolution bodies

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

A Manitoba First Nation chief is threatening to divide a reserve to resolve an impasse with community members. Some members are staging a sit-in at the band office.
Buffalo Point First Nation is located near the Ontario-Manitoba border. Band administration has already been disrupted before over the last several years.
According to this media account, the recent impasse started when the band wanted to remove itself from the land use provisions of the Indian Act and apparently enter into the First Nations Land Management Act.
Conflicts are becoming very confrontational on many First Nations. Without proper dispute resolution systems that are respected and enforced, band members and governments often have to resort to costly and divisive litigation.
The answer is to establish a band constitution that lays out institutions and dispute resolution mechanisms. The first step is for band members to respect those institutions and the next step is for governments to allow for independent First Nations-led dispute resolution bodies that can enforce decisions and avoid courts.
Political instability is one of the gravest threats to First Nations communities (well, all communities) as it threatens public services (especially for the vulnerable) and prevents economic development. This is why finding ways to resolve conflict now is so critical.