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Governance and Business development of Magnetawan First Nation

Indigenous Services September 1, 2018

The Magnetawan First Nation (MFN) is an Ojibwe First Nation community in Ontario, Canada. The community is situated on reserve lands in Britt, Ontario. It consists of one main reserve called Magnetawan 1 with a total population of 238 and a land area of approx. 47.21 sq. km. The Reserve is located approx. 6 km east of Georgian Bay.

Since 2009, Magnetawan First Nation has been working to join the Framework Agreement on FN Land Management (FNLM) regime with the First Nation Lands Advisory Board and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The FNLM regime enables First Nations to manage their own land, resources and environment according to their own land codes, laws and policies. The regime also helps First Nations get out from under 34 land-related limitations of the Indian Act in order to take control of their land and resources.

Land codes are tailored by each first nation, according to our own beliefs, customs, traditions and expectations. A land code provides increased protection for reserve land. Through a land code, a first nation is unconditionally recognized with all the rights, powers and privileges of an owner of its lands.

The Magnetawan First Nation wanted to develop their own land code laws which required legal and economic development expertise in commercial land use from a professional urban planner to help with the process. CESO was able to respond to this specialize professional niche to support the community.

The MFN needed an expert to assist the land code development committee to peer review their proposed Land code laws and provide recommendations.  Since land code legal terms and jargons are complex, MFN also needed clarification with legal terms in order to assist the community ratification process.

In addition, the MFN required assistance with a peer review of their 5 Year Economic Development Plan on how to implement their economic development initiatives.

The CESO Volunteer Advisor for the land code development was Ed Cornies, an economic development, land use planning and governance specialist with over forty years of Canadian and international experience, as well as municipal land use and public affairs. Ed reviewed the land code and helped the land code development committee to ensure the land code was understood by community members and assisted in the community ratification process. Ed further reviewed the 5 Year Economic Development Plan and the proposals on the gas station project and the Capital Planning Study and provided recommendations.

For the second part of the project, CESO Volunteer Advisor Michael Ross, a veteran business manager, reviewed the inventory control of the already existing gas bar so that it was ready for upgrade.

On June 20, 2015 Magnetawan First Nation voters cast their ballots to ratify their Land Code, becoming the 56th First Nation in Canada and the 11th First Nation in Ontario to ratify the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (FNLM).

Also, the partnership with CESO helped the community to go forward with the gas station project which brought about the opening of a new Esso and Tim Horton’s economic development venture in February 2017.

Since the MFN ratified the land code, it was able to access federal funding. Currently, the FN is in its operational phase and will have access to the on-going operational federal funding for managing land, natural resources and environment. Interestingly, Budget 2018 proposed to invest $143.5 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, and $19 million per year ongoing to support First Nations participation under the First Nations Land Management Act.

Most importantly, the First Nations Land Management Regime provides the MFN with the ability to easily and effectively facilitate and manage economic development on reserve land. The ultimate benefits are vibrant, self-sustaining First Nation communities that contribute to Canadian society and the Canadian economy.

“CESO VA, Ed Cornies was instrumental in assisting with the implementation of First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA). Mr. Cornies performed a peer review of the Land code and its related documents prior to the implementation. We believe that the collaboration between Magnetawan First Nation and CESO is unique and innovative and will result in a solid and sustainable outcome in economic development for our community”.      

~ Chief Lloyd Myke, Head Councilor, Magnetawan First Nation 1-800-268-9052
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