Serpent River First Nation seeks Land Designation under the Indian Act to proceed with Economic Development

SERPENT RIVER FIRST NATION, Sept. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - Serpent River First Nation members will be asked to vote in a ratification process for a parcel of land for the purpose of Economic Development.

A notice of referendum was sent out to all members of the Serpent River First Nation on the Indian Act-regulated date of August 15th 2011. This would allow members of the First Nation to review the information regarding the designation so that they could provide an informed vote to be held in the first nation on October 4th 2011. Mail-in ballots are being accepted.

The land in question for the vote is a parcel of land that totals 25.5 acres and is currently encompasses the Serpent River Trading Post, the band's Gas Bar/ Convenience Store and the North Shore Tribal Council Offices buildings. These facilities would come under a head-lease that would be economically governed by the bands Economic Development Corporation for business purposes; however the Chief and Council would still hold a fiduciary obligation and maintain authority over the land through a designed Memorandum of Understanding with the board of the corporation.

"The Indian Act is a legislative framework that places our lands in a constrained holding where there is a need to go to a referendum to lease land to another entity. In this case our economic development corporation is considered that other entity," explains Isadore Day, elected chief of Serpent River First Nation.

Since 1988, Section 38(2) of the Indian Act has allowed a First Nation to designate all or part of their reserve land so that it can be leased or a right or interest in that land granted to some other person or party. Since reserve land is not subject to seizure and cannot be pledged as security for loans or mortgages to financial institutions, it is becoming a common practice of many First Nations throughout Canada that wish to acquire financing for major developments to pledge a leasehold interest as collateral.

"Under the Indian Act rules, we have a great number of agency rules that we must adhere to when making decisions; these generally include our members who are status under provisions of the same act. We are reaching out across not only our region but across the province of Ontario and Canada because those members that live away from the community also have a say and a right to provide input towards proposed development or changes in land tenure on the First Nation," says Day

The Serpent River First Nation has spent the last number of years preparing for economic self-determination and has established and economic development corporation that is currently working on priority projects. One of those projects is to construct and operate an assembly plant for LED lighting. Currently, federal and provincial funding partners are holding approvals pending a successful referendum for land designation. The facility is estimated at $4-million in government funding for the project to be operational.

"We have had a great number of partners in this process, both on the land designation side of the project and establishing a sound and viable business venture; we are relying on our members to hold this opportunity up with a favorable vote," concludes Day.

Serpent River First Nation members that may have not received their packages are being asked to contact the first nation for information on how and when to cast their vote.

SOURCE Anishinabek Nation

For further information:

Melissa Chesterfield, Communications Specialist
Serpent River First Nation
(705) 844-2418 - melissac.srfn@ontera.net

Marci Becking
Communications Officer
Union of Ontario Indians
705-497-9127 ext. 2290
becmar@anishinabek.ca
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