Nisga'a Landholding Transition Act
Nisga’a Landholding Transition Act
- Fee simple ownership of residential lands
Since the fall of 2012, Nisga’a law has permitted unrestricted fee simple ownership of certain residentially-zoned Nisga’a Land.
Under the authority of the Nisga’a Treaty, he Nisga’a Nation took this step to support the prosperity of Nisga’a citizens by allowing them to own their homes in the same way that families own their homes everywhere in Canada – in fee simple. , With this change, Nisga’a citizens have the ability to sell, transfer, or will their land to anyone whether they be Nisga’a or non-Nisga’a, First Nations or non-First Nations. It is also possible to mortgage these lands in order to secure a loan.
For the Nisga’a Nation, this is a complete departure from the way that other First Nations deal with land transfers and housing under the Indian Act. Once a Nisga’a citizen obtains fee simple ownership of his or her land, they are free to use it in whatever way they choose, as long as all applicable laws are respected.
There are some restrictions on grants of fee simple. In the first instance, the grant can only be made to a Nisga’a citizen and must be for land that is zoned for residential use and has an area that is not greater than 0.2 hectares (ha). This is to ensure that the benefits of land ownership accrue to individual Nisga’a families, rather than to the land development industry.
The lands that are currently zoned for residential use (and therefore eligible for fee simple ownership) comprises approximately 100 ha, or .05% of the entirety of Nisga’a Lands. The ability to own land in fee simple could be extended to other zoning categories if Wilp Si’ayuukhl Nisga’a (WSN) chose to enact new legislation, but there is no intention to do this in the foreseeable future.
Participation as a fee simple owner is voluntary. The original, more restrictive types of tenure, such as Nisga’a Village Entitlement, Nisga’a Nation Entitlement, rental and leases still exist, and are available for Nisga’a homeowners who are more comfortable with these forms of tenure.
The Nisga’a Nation is aware that unrestricted fee simple ownership of Nisga’a Lands is considered to be controversial in the academic community. We are certain, however, that the strength of our jurisdiction and the deep sense of commitment to the land that our citizens hold will serve to make a success of this initiative.
For more information, or to download copies of the legislation and application forms, please refer to the Nisga’a Land Title Office website at www.nisgaalandtitle.ca