Saturday, April 9, 2011

Give Natives Rights to Their Lands: FCPP - Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Give Natives Rights to Their Lands: FCPP - Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Aboriginal financial institutions say that they have distributed about $1.3-billion to aboriginal businesses over the years, creating many jobs in First Nation communities.

It may inject wealth into communities and create jobs, but is this sustainable?

André Le Dressay, an economist with Fiscal Realities Economists, a B.C.-based consulting firm that advises First Nation developers, argued that although Aboriginal Business Canada provides about $70-million in programs a year to help First Nations access capital, with real property rights they could be sitting on at least $6-billion in income-generating assets.

Fiscal Realities Economists studied the potential of 68 First Nations in British Columbia. What it discovered is that if only 40% of this land were converted to fee-simple ownership (land that can be transferred, sold or leased to anyone without restrictions and used as bank collateral), it would generate $3.8-billion in increased land values over 15 years.
Long story short... Aboriginals won't truly be able to deal with all of their various issues until and unless they have the same property and inheritance rights as the rest of Canadian society. No amount of money thrown at their problems can replace the positive impact of those rights. A couple of years ago, I counciled an aboriginal who wanted to create a business on reserve. The first question I asked was whether he had approached his band council about the opportunity. When he answered in the negative, I suggested that he discuss it with his leadership before he put any time or money into the venture. Unfortunately, that gives his band leadership extraordinary power over all members of the band, and as a result, aboriginal society is held back by those band councils who seek other goals than the prosperity of their band as a whole.

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