'Formalizing' Land Tenure in First Nations: Evaluating the Case for Reserve Tenure Reform

78 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012

See all articles by Jamie Baxter

Jamie Baxter

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law; Yale University - Law School

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

A proposal is currently being drafted by the First Nations Tax Commission to create a national First Nations Land Title System (FNLTS) for reserve lands in Canada. This paper examines the implications of the FNLTS proposal for some economic development outcomes across diverse First Nations communities. The authors aim to situate the theory underlying a FNLTS within recent international development scholarship on land tenure formalization, asking whether and under what conditions net benefits from tenure reform are likely to be realized. Their evaluation begins with a brief overview of the history of reserve land tenure in Canada, followed by a survey of the tenure regimes currently available to First Nations, thus providing context for suggested reforms. The second half of the paper draws on the experiences of Indigenous communities with tenure formalization in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Overall, the authors conclude that the predicted economic outcomes of a FNLTS will depend heavily on historical, political, social and geographic factors unique to each community. First Nations will likely need to consider creative strategies for tenure reform tailored to their particular circumstances and traditions in order to meet economic development goals.

Keywords: Formalization, land tenure reform

Suggested Citation

Baxter, Jamie and Trebilcock, Michael J., 'Formalizing' Land Tenure in First Nations: Evaluating the Case for Reserve Tenure Reform (2009). Indigenous Law Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2102787

Jamie Baxter (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Michael J. Trebilcock

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-5843 (Phone)
416-978-1279 (Fax)

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