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In Canada, an Indian reserve is specified by the Indian Act as a "tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band." Indian reserves are not to be confused with land claims.
- 1 Demographics
- 2 Governance
- 3 Constitution Act 1867
- 4 Treaties and reserves, pre-1867
- 5 Numbered treaties, 1871-1921
- 6 The Indian Act 1876
- 7 Indian Act
- 8 Public policy
- 9 Water quality
- 10 See also
- 11 Citations
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
According to Statistics Canada, there are more than "600 First Nations/Indian bands in Canada." Examples include Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Alberta with a reserve by the same name, Sturgeon Lake Indian Reserve No. 101, and what is generally called the Musqueam Indian Reserve in British Columbia, but is really three separate but adjoining reserves, Musqueam No. 2 and No. 4, which are the only two extant reserves within the boundaries of the City of Vancouver, and Sea Island Indian Reserve No. 3, which is in the City of Richmond); they are governed by the Musqueam Indian Band. It is one of several First Nations whose reserve community lies within the boundaries of a city but is independent of those governments. In 2003, 60 percent of status Indians lived on reserves. The Beaver Lake Cree Nation, a First Nation or band located 105 km northeast of Edmonton, Alberta has two parcels of land reserved for the band by the Canadian Crown, Beaver Lake 131 and the Blue Quills First Nation Indian Reserve; the latter is shared with five other bands, including the Saddle Lake First Nation, which is a newer band comprising five merged bands, including "Blue Quill's Band", the source of that name. Many other band governments have multiple reserves, some reserves such as Peckquaylis are shared by twenty-three bands, some bands have only one reserve. In 2003, 60 percent of status Indians lived on reserves. Some reserves that were originally rural were gradually surrounded by urban development. Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary are examples of cities with urban reserves. By 2003 there were 2,300 reserves in Canada, comprising 28,000 square kilometres.
In 2011, 851,560 people self-identified as a First Nations person, representing 60.8% of the total Aboriginal (First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples) population and 2.6% of the total Canadian population. Many First Nations people lived in Ontario and the western provinces. In the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Manitoba and Saskatchewan First Nations people make up the largest share of the total population. In 2011, 637,660 First Nations people or 74.9% of all First Nations people, were Registered. That represents 45.5% of the total Aboriginal population and 1.9% of the total Canadian population. One-quarter of First Nations people (213,900) were not Registered, representing 15.3% of the total Aboriginal population and less than 1% of the total Canadian population.
One First Nations Chief and Council may administer more than one reserve such as the Beaver Lake Cree Nation with two areas of reserve land and the Munsee-Delaware First Nations, occupying three reserves including Munsee-Delaware Nationin Ontario.
Indian reserves may also choose to be part of regional tribal councils. For example, the Sto:lo people, a group of c. 17 First Nations peoples inhabiting the Fraser Valley and lower Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, Canada, with an archaeological history dating back 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, now have two Sto:lo tribal councils, Sto:lo Nation and the Stó:lō Tribal Council, although not all Sto:lo bands belong to either council. Others include the Musqueam Indian Band, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation, Semiahmoo First Nation, and Yale First Nation. Twenty-four First Nations were signatories of the 1977 Stó:lō Declaration. Some reserves are shared by multiple bands, whether as fishing camps or educational facilities such as Peckquaylis, a reserve on the Fraser River which is used by 21 Indian bands.
Some bands belong to multiple tribal councils, as is case with many bands of the Nlaka'pamux people, and some bands span more than one ethnic group, such as the Nicola Tribal Association, which spans Nlaka'pamux and Okanagan peoples, or the Carrier Chilcotin Tribal Council which spans the Dakelh (Carrier) and Tsilhqot'in peoples. For some ethnic groups there is no tribal council, as is the case with the Tsimshian people, whose attempt at a tribal council, the Tsimshian Tribal Council dissolved amid political discord.
Constitution Act 1867
In 1867, legislative jurisdiction over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians" was assigned to the Parliament of Canada through the Constitution Act, 1867, a major part of Canada's Constitution, originally enacted as the British North America Act (BNA), which acknowledged that First Nations had special status. Separate powers covered "status and civil rights on the one hand and Indian lands on the other."
In 1870 the newly formed Canadian government acquired Rupert's Land, a vast territory in British North America, consisting mostly of the Hudson Bay drainage basin, that had been controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company under its Charter with the British Crown from 1670-1870. Numerous aboriginal groups lived in the same territory and disputed the sovereignty of the area. The Canadian government promised Britain to honour the provisions of the Proclamation of 1763 to "negotiate with its Amerindians for the extinguishment of their title and the setting aside of reserves for their exclusive use." This promise led to the numbered treaties.
Treaties and reserves, pre-1867
After the Royal Proclamation and before Confederation in 1867 the Upper Canada Treaties (1764-1862 Ontario) and the Douglas Treaties (1850-1854 British Columbia) treaties were signed. "Some of these pre-confederation and post-confederation treaties addressed reserve lands, hunting, fishing, trapping rights, annuities and other benefits."
Numbered treaties, 1871-1921
Between 1871 and 1921, through numbered treaties with First Nations, the Canadian government gained large areas of land for settlers and for industry in Northwestern Ontario, Northern Canada and in the Prairies. The treaties, also called the Land Cession or Post-Confederation Treaties, Treaty 1 was a controversial agreement established August 3, 1871 between Queen Victoria and various First Nations in South Eastern Manitoba including the Chippewa and Swampy Cree tribes. Treaty 1 First Nations are Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Fort Alexander (Sagkeeng First Nation), Long Plain First Nation, Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sandy Bay First Nation and Swan Lake First Nation.
The Indian Act 1876
The rights and freedoms of Canada's First Nations people have been governed by the Indian Act since its enactment in 1876 by the Parliament of Canada. The provisions of Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, provided Canada's federal government exclusive authority to legislate in relation to "Indians and Lands Reserved for Indians".
The Indian Act also specifies that land reserved for the use and benefit of a band which is not vested in the Crown.
Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island) is subject to the Indian Act provisions governing reserves. Superficially a reserve is similar to an American Indian reservation, although the histories of the development of reserves and reservations are markedly different. Although the American term reservation is occasionally used, reserve is normally the standard term in Canada. Native reserves in 1867 are not listed here.
The Indian Act gives the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs the right to "determine whether any purpose for which lands in a reserve are used is for the use and benefit of the band." Title to land within the reserve may only be transferred to the band or to individual band members. Reserve lands may not be seized legally, nor is the personal property of a band or a band member living on a reserve subject to "charge, pledge, mortgage, attachment, levy, seizure distress or execution in favour or at the instance of any person other than an Indian or a band" (section 89 (1) of theGCa (1985), Indian Act, Government of Canada
CMHC on Indian reserves
While the act was intended to protect the Indian holdings, the limitations make it difficult for the reserves and their residents to obtain financing for development and construction, or renovation. To answer this need, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has created an on-reserve housing loan program. Members of bands may enter into a trust agreement with CMHC, and lenders can receive loans to build or repair houses. In other programs, loans to residents of reserves are guaranteed by the federal government.
Provinces and municipalities may expropriate reserve land only if specifically authorized by a provincial or federal law. Few reserves have any economic advantages, such as resource revenues. The revenues of those reserves which do, are held in trust by the Minister of Indian Affairs. Reserve lands and the personal property of bands and resident band members are exempt from all forms of taxation except local taxation.
Corporations owned by members of First Nations are not exempt, however. This exemption has allowed band members operating in proprietorships or partnerships to sell heavily taxed goods, such as cigarettes, on their reserves at prices considerably lower than those at stores off the reserves. Most reserves are self-governed, within the limits already described, under guidelines established by the Indian Act.
Due to treaty settlements, some Indian reserves are now incorporated as villages, such as New Aiyansh, British Columbia, which like other Nisga'a reserves was relieved of that status by the Nisga'a Treaty. Similarly, the Indian reserves of the Sechelt Indian Band are now Indian Government Districts.
Indian reserves play a very important role in public policy stakeholder consultations, particularly when reserves are located in areas that have valuable natural resources with vast potential for economic development. Beginning in the 1970s, First Nations gained "recognition of their constitutionally protected rights." First Nations' special status is protected by their constitutional rights (e.g., fish, game and timber). By 2002 (Valiente) First Nations had already "finalised 14 comprehensive land claims and self-government agreements, with numerous others, primarily in northern Canada and British Columbia, at different stages of negotiations." Land claims and self-government agreements, are "modern treaties" and therefore have constitutional status.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA), "places aboriginal participation on par with federal ministers and the provinces in the National Advisory Committee." Among other things, CEPA clarified the term "aboriginal land" in 3 (1): "The definitions in this subsection apply in this Act. "aboriginal land" means (a) reserves, surrendered lands and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band and that are subject to the Indian Act." Under sections 46 – 50 of the CEPA, Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) was initiated. NPRI is the inventory of "pollutants released, disposed of and sent for recycling by facilities across the country.". The NPRI is used by First Nation administrations on reserves, along with other research tools, to monitor pollution. For example, NPRI data from Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) showed the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ontario was "ground zero for Ontario's heaviest load of air pollution."
By 2006  nearly 100 Indian reserves had boil-water advisories and many others had substandard water. Kwicksutaineuk First Nation, on an island off the B.C. coast had a boil water advisory since 1997. In October 2005 "high E. coli levels were found in the Kashechewan First Nation reserve's drinking water and chlorine levels had to be increased to "shock" levels causing skin problems and eventually resulting in an evacuation of hundreds of people from the reserve and costing approximately $16 million. 
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