Concurrently with the legal action and negotiation strategy, there has been an effort in the last forty years to establish practical methods to implement rights and title. This has resulted in legislation for taxation and lands and financial management. These practical methods have four essential qualities:
They are First Nation led.
They are optional.
They have institutional support to help First Nations implement the associated jurisdiction.
They have a legislative process where federal or provincial jurisdiction is vacated and then occupied by First Nation governments.
The Indigenous Land Title Initiative is part of this practical approach to implement rights and title. It originated as an idea between then-Chiefs Steven Point and Manny Jules in the early 1990s to establish a First Nation Land Title Registry system. It was reinvigorated in 2008 by a number of proponents and the First Nations Tax Commission. As a result, a practical legislative proposal has been developed to restore First Nation title to reserve lands. ILTI uses a three-part process to restore First Nation title:
ILTI is optional legislation. Interested First Nations must make a community decision to restore title to their lands and assume the jurisdiction over those lands. There must be community support for opting into ILTI, through a majority vote (with at least 25% of electors voting ‘Yes’) to apply the proposed legislation to the community. The community will have a “Land Law” which sets out how the title will be held, transferred, and governed, if the vote is successful.
The proposed ILTI legislation does the following to restore title:
- It transfers the fee simple title held by the federal government to the First Nation. The federal government can do this in BC without provincial legislation.
- It confirms and enables extensive property rights, land management, and other related jurisdictions held by participating First Nations.
- It establishes the framework for a land title registry.
- It provides a mechanism to transfer existing land interests into that land title registry.
- It contains powers to create and support a strong regulatory environment for participating First Nations to exercise their jurisdictions as soon as title is transferred
Land Title Registry
ILTI creates a First Nation title registry so participating First Nations can:
- Register all property rights;
- Raise property rights for members and others;
- Provide guaranteed title on their lands; and
- Effectively exercise their jurisdiction.