By Trevor Greyeyes
Sandy Bay First Nation band members voted overwhelmingly to approve the Treaty One Joint Reserve Land Code that represents a significant milestone in the journey toward self-determination and sovereignty in development of the Naawi-Oodena Joint Reserve lands in Winnipeg, MB.
On September 14, 2023, members of Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation exercised their right to vote on the lands management regime, following a thirty-day voting period with online, mail-in, and advanced poll voting options. The marks a crucial step towards assuming control over Treaty One’s jointly held urban reserve lands.
With 98.5% of the vote in favor of the Treaty One Joint Reserve Land Code, members of the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation have shown overwhelming support for this transformative initiative.
Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation Chief Trevor Prince expresses hope for the future, stating that, “We are deeply grateful to our community members for participating in this important vote. This overwhelming result shows that our people want the Treaty One Leadership to work collectively and to exercise sectoral self-governance in how we will govern and manage the Treaty lands for generations to come. We look forward to working together with all our Treaty No. 1 First Nations to bring our vision for a successful future to life.”
Treaty One Nations acknowledges the dedication and hard work of Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation and its leadership throughout this process. Being the first Joint Reserve across Canada to pursue a joint land management system, this ratification process marks a significant step forward in the journey of self-determination for First Nations across all of Turtle Island.
“We’ve been talking about this with our community members quite extensively, and from what I am seeing it’s the young people who are most excited for this development, said Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation Councillor Randall Roulette. “The benefits of something like Naawi-Oodena might not be realized for many years, but it is our children, and their children’s children, who will truly live to prosper and lay the foundations at this sacred site.”
“The Treaty One Nations stand in solidarity with Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation and congratulate them on this momentous achievement,” said Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Gordon BlueSky, Chairperson of the Treaty One Governing Council. “We have been working together on this development nearly two decades and the Treaty One Nations’ joint management system is the major step forward as we continue on a path of collective self-governance while ensuring that our individual Nation’s inherent rights and interests are protected and respected.”
In December 2022, all Naawi-Oodena (formerly Kapyong Barracks) lands were set apart as joint reserve land for the use and benefit of the Treaty One First Nations, under the jurisdiction of the seven Treaty One First Nations.
Currently, three Treaty One First Nations operate under their own land management systems, while four remain under the Indian Act. To effectively govern and manage Treaty One jointly held lands, it is essential that all seven First Nations operate under one unanimous land system. All seven First Nations have elected to pursue sectoral self-governance for Treaty One lands through the Framework Agreement on First Nations Lands Management Act (FAFNLMA).
Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Long Plain First Nation, and Swan Lake First Nation have received approval from their members to operate under the FAFNLMA by way of community vote. Adding additional reserve lands, including joint reserve lands, is a fundamental function of self-governing land regimes for these First Nations. The three First Nations have adopted a section specific to Treaty One Joint Reserve lands management as an addition to their existing legislation, with application to the joint reserve lands only.
Following a successful vote for Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, Treaty One Nations is currently coordinating votes in the remaining three First Nations: Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, and Sagkeeng First Nation so that all seven Treaty One First Nations may govern and manage the joint reserve lands as ONE Nation under ONE self-determined system.