Additions to Reserve
An addition to reserve adds land to an existing reserve of a First Nation or creates a new reserve for First Nations.
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What is an addition to reserve
A reserve is a parcel of land where legal title is held by the Crown (Government of Canada), for the use and benefit of a particular First Nation. An addition to reserve is a parcel of land added to the existing reserve land of a First Nation or that creates a new reserve.
Land can be added adjacent to the existing reserve land (contiguous) or separated from the existing reserve land (non-contiguous). An addition to reserve can be added in rural or urban settings.
An addition to reserve:
- contributes directly to advancing reconciliation and improving the treaty relationship
- can improve community access to land and resources
- can support community and economic development initiatives for First Nations
- enables Canada to fulfill legal obligations established by specific claim settlement agreements
There are 3 categories of additions to reserve:
- Legal obligations and agreements: where there is a legal obligation or a legal commitment by the Government of Canada to add lands to reserve
- Community additions: where a First Nation with an existing reserve needs additional reserve land for purposes such as to accommodate community growth or to use/protect culturally significant sites
- Tribunal decisions: where a First Nation is awarded compensation by the Specific Claims Tribunal for the purchase of lands
To learn more about when an addition to reserve can be proposed, consult the policy directive.
How is an addition to reserve completed
In order for an addition to reserve proposal to move forward, the following criteria must be satisfied:
- significant environmental concerns, if any, have been addressed to an acceptable level for proposed land use
- a land survey has been conducted identifying the land to be set apart as reserve
- the Government of Canada’s duty to consult process has been completed
- best efforts have been made to address any concerns of municipal and provincial or territorial governments
- third party interests, such as leases, permits and licenses requiring a replacement instrument have been identified and addressed
- public access concerns have been addressed
There are 4 phases to the addition to reserve process:
- the First Nation submits a Band Council Resolution and an addition to reserve proposal to the Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) regional office
- assessment and review
- ISC reviews the proposal and advises the First Nation in writing of the results, issuing a letter of support to First Nations for successful proposals
- proposal completion
- ISC and the First Nation create and execute a work plan to complete all technical components (i.e., surveys, addressing third party interests, Duty to Consult, Municipal Service Agreements, Environmental Site Assessments, etc.)
- the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs approves proposals by Ministerial Order
To find out more, contact your ISC regional office.
List of completed Additions to Reserve
The Addition to Reserve Policy
The Government of Canada created the Addition to Reserve Policy in 1972 to fill a gap. Additions to reserve were not addressed in the Indian Act or other federal legislation. The policy was updated in 2001. Since then, a number of challenges were identified.
In 2013, a draft revised policy was released to seek feedback from First Nations and the broader public on how to further improve the policy and Addition to Reserve process in general. In response to this feedback, the Government of Canada issued an updated policy directive, effective July 27, 2016.
Following the release of the 2016 policy directive, and feedback from Indigenous partners, ISC determined that further work is needed to streamline additions to reserve.
Budget 2021 provided $43 million over 4 years to ISC and CIRNAC, starting in 2021-22, to work with Indigenous partners and stakeholders to redesign the federal Addition to Reserve Policy and to accelerate work on existing requests from First Nations across the country. This work is ongoing.
Addition of Lands to Reserves and Reserve Creation Act
This new legislation, which came into force on August 27, 2019, facilitates the setting apart of reserve land for the use and benefit of First Nations and the addition of land to reserves.
It enables all First Nations to have access to the same procedural tools previously only available through the former claim settlement implementation acts in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
- all additions to reserve approved by Ministerial Order rather than by Governor in Council
- all First Nations to have the option to designate or zone the land prior to transfer and facilitate the transfer of third-party interests, through the issuance of leases or permits, prior to the lands being added to reserve
Benefits of this legislation include:
- an increase in economic development opportunities through increased access to lands and resources
- additional procedural tools to create reserve land
- more timely decisions
Learn more: Addition of Lands to Reserves and Reserve Creation Act.
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