Indian reserve

In Canada, an Indian reserve (French: réserve indienne) is specified by the Indian Act as a "tract of land, the legal title to which is vested in Her Majesty, that has been set apart by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of a band."[1]

First Nations reserves are the areas set aside for First Nations people after a contract with the Canadian state ("the Crown"), and are not to be confused with land claims areas, which involve all of that First Nations' traditional lands: a much larger territory than any other reserve.


A single "band" (First Nations government) may control one reserve or several, in addition some reserves are shared between multiple bands. In 2003, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs stated there were 2,300 reserves in Canada, comprising 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi).[2] According to Statistics Canada in 2011, there are more than 600 First Nations/Indian bands in Canada and 3,100 Indian reserves across Canada.[3] Examples include the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, which like many bands, has only one reserve, Sturgeon Lake Indian Reserve No. 101. Musqueam No. 2 and No. 4, and Sea Island Indian Reserve No. 3 are governed by the Musqueam Indian Band, one of many examples where a single government is responsible for more than one reserve.[4] In 2003, 60 percent of status Indians lived on reserves.[2]

Of the 637,660 First Nations people who reported being Registered Indians, nearly one-half (49.3%) lived on an Indian reserve. This proportion varies across the country.[5]

Many reserves have no resident population; typically they are small, remote, non-contiguous pieces of land, a fact which has led many to be abandoned, or used only seasonally (as a trapping territory, for example). Statistics Canada counts only those reserves which are populated (or potentially populated) as "subdivisions" for the purpose of the national census. For the 2011 census, of the more than 3,100 Indian reserves across Canada, there were only 961 Indian reserves classified as census subdivisions (including the 6 reserves added for 2011).[6] Some reserves that were originally rural were gradually surrounded by urban development. Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary are examples of cities with urban reserves.


One band Chief and Council commonly administer more than one reserve such as the Beaver Lake Cree Nation with two reserves, or the Lenape people, who are in Canada incorporated as the Munsee-Delaware Nation and who occupy Munsee-Delaware Nation Indian Reserve No. 1, consists of three non-contiguous parcels of land totally 1054 hectares within the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation 42 near Muncey, Ontario, which was formerly shared between them and the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation as a single parcel of land. Some reserves are shared by multiple bands, whether as fishing camps or educational facilities such as Peckquaylis, a reserve on the Fraser River which is used by 21 Indian bands; it was formerly St. Mary's Indian Residential School and is an example of a reserve created in modern times.[7][8] Another multi-band reserve of the Sto:lo peoples is Grass Indian Reserve No. 15, which is located in the City of Chilliwack and is shared by nine bands.

Constitution Act 1867

In 1867, legislative jurisdiction over "Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians" was assigned to the Parliament of Canada through the Constitution Act, 1867,[9] a major part of Canada's Constitution, originally known as the British North America Act (BNA), which acknowledged that First Nations had special status. Separate powers covered "status and civil rights on the one hand and Indian lands on the other."[10][11]

In 1870, the newly formed Dominion government acquired Rupert's Land, a vast territory in British North America, consisting mostly of the Hudson Bay drainage basin, that had been controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company under its Charter with the British Crown from 1670-1870. Numerous aboriginal groups lived in the same territory and disputed the sovereignty of the area. The Dominion of Canada promised Britain to honour the provisions of the Proclamation of 1763 to "negotiate with its Amerindians for the extinguishment of their title and the setting aside of reserves for their exclusive use." This promise led to the numbered treaties.[12]

Treaties and reserves, pre-1867

After the Royal Proclamation and before Confederation in 1867 the Upper Canada Treaties (1764–1862 Ontario) and the Douglas Treaties (1850-1854 British Columbia) treaties were signed. "Some of these pre-confederation and post-confederation treaties addressed reserve lands, hunting, fishing, trapping rights, annuities and other benefits."[13] Governor James Douglas of British Columbia, which formally became a colony in 1858, also worked to establish many reserves on the mainland during his tenure, though most of these were overturned by successor colonial governments and later royal commissions once the province joined Confederation in 1871.-

Numbered treaties, 1871–1921

Between 1871 and 1921, through numbered treaties with First Nations, the Canadian government gained large areas of land for settlers and for industry in Northwestern Ontario, Northern Canada and in the Prairies. The treaties, also called the Land Cession or Post-Confederation Treaties,[14] Treaty 1 was a controversial agreement established August 3, 1871, between Queen Victoria and various First Nations in southeastern Manitoba, including the Chippewa and the Swampy Cree tribes. Treaty 1 First Nations comprise the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Fort Alexander (Sagkeeng First Nation), Long Plain First Nation, Peguis First Nation, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, Sandy Bay First Nation and Swan Lake First Nation.

The Indian Act 1876

The rights and freedoms of Canada's First Nations people have been governed by the Indian Act since its enactment in 1876[15] by the Parliament of Canada. The provisions of Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, provided Canada's federal government exclusive authority to legislate in relation to "Indians and Lands Reserved for Indians".[16]

Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve on Manitoulin Island is subject to the Indian Act provisions governing reserves even though its lands were never ceded to the Crown by treaty.

Indian Act

The Indian Act gives the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs the right to "determine whether any purpose for which lands in a reserve are used is for the use and benefit of the band."[17] Title to land within the reserve may be transferred to only the band or to individual band members. Reserve lands may not be seized legally, nor is the personal property of a band or a band member living on a reserve subject to "charge, pledge, mortgage, attachment, levy, seizure distress or execution in favour or at the instance of any person other than an Indian or a band" (section 89 (1) of the[18] GCa (1985), Indian Act, Government of Canada.

Housing loans

While the Act was intended to protect the Indian holdings, the limitations make it difficult for the reserves and their residents to obtain financing for development and construction, or renovation. To answer this need, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has created an on-reserve housing loan program. Members of bands may enter into a trust agreement with CMHC, and lenders can receive loans to build or repair houses. In other programs, loans to residents of reserves are guaranteed by the federal government.

Provinces and municipalities may expropriate reserve land only if specifically authorized by a provincial or federal law. Few reserves have any economic advantages, such as resource revenues. The revenues of those reserves which do are held in trust by the minister of Indian Affairs. Reserve lands and the personal property of bands and resident band members are exempt from all forms of taxation except local taxation.

Corporations owned by members of First Nations are not exempt, however. This exemption has allowed band members operating in proprietorships or partnerships to sell heavily taxed goods, such as cigarettes, on their reserves at prices considerably lower than those at stores off the reserves. Most reserves are self-governed, within the limits already described, under guidelines established by the Indian Act.

Due to treaty settlements, some Indian reserves are now incorporated as villages, such as New Aiyansh, British Columbia, which like other Nisga'a reserves was relieved of that status by the Nisga'a Treaty. Similarly, the Indian reserves of the Sechelt Indian Band are now Indian government districts.

Public policy

Indian reserves play a very important role in public policy stakeholder consultations, particularly when reserves are located in areas that have valuable natural resources with potential for economic development. Beginning in the 1970s, First Nations gained "recognition of their constitutionally protected rights."[19] First Nations' rights are protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. By 2002, (Valiente) First Nations had already "finalised 14 comprehensive land claims and self-government agreements, with numerous others, primarily in northern Canada and British Columbia, at different stages of negotiations." Land claims and self-government agreements are "modern treaties" and therefore hold constitutional status.

CEPA 1999

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA), "places aboriginal participation on par with federal ministers and the provinces in the National Advisory Committee."[19] Among other things, CEPA clarified the term "aboriginal land" in 3 (1): "The definitions in this subsection apply in this Act. "aboriginal land" means (a) reserves, surrendered lands and any other lands that are set apart for the use and benefit of a band and that are subject to the Indian Act."[20] Under sections 46–50 of the CEPA, Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) was initiated. NPRI is the inventory of "pollutants released, disposed of and sent for recycling by facilities across the country".[21] The NPRI is used by First Nation administrations on reserves, along with other research tools, to monitor pollution. For example, NPRI data from Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI) showed the Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ontario, was "ground zero for Ontario's heaviest load of air pollution."[21]

Water quality

By December 21, 2017, there were 67 long-term boil-water advisories that had been in effect for longer than a year.[22] These are "public water systems managed by the federal government".[22] There were also 18 communities that had "water issues for between two and 12 months."[22]

According to statistics gathered by Health Canada and the First Nations Health Authority, in 2015, there were "162 drinking water advisories in 118 First Nation communities".[23] In October 2015, Neskantaga First Nation reported that its "20-year boil-water advisory" was "the longest running drinking water advisory in Canada."[23] Shoal Lake 40 First Nation was under an 18-year boil water advisory.[23]

By 2006,[24] nearly 100 Indian reserves had boil-water advisories and many others had substandard water. Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, on an island off the British Columbia coast, had a boil-water advisory beginning in 1997.[24] In October 2005, "high E. coli levels were found in the Kashechewan First Nation reserve's drinking water and chlorine levels had to be increased to 'shock' levels, causing skin problems and eventually resulting in an evacuation of hundreds of people from the reserve and costing approximately $16 million."[24]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b DIAND 2003, p. 2.
  3. ^ StatsCan 2011.
  4. ^ Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Reserves/Settlements/Villages Detail Archived 2013-12-02 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ StatsCan 2011b.
  6. ^ "Census subdivision: Detailed definition".
  7. ^ "Pekw'Xe:yles". BC Geographical Names.
  8. ^ Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Reserves/Settlements/Villages detail Archived March 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Constitution Act, 1867 Archived May 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3 (U.K.), R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 11.
  10. ^ GC 1870.
  11. ^ GC 1867, s.146.
  12. ^ Dickason 2009, p. 241.
  13. ^ DIAND 2003, p. 1.
  14. ^ Robert & 2001-5.
  15. ^ Clegg 1982.
  16. ^ Constitution Act Archived August 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Indian Act".
  18. ^ GCa 1985.
  19. ^ a b Henriques et al.
  20. ^ "CEPA 1999".
  21. ^ a b Colihan 2008.
  22. ^ a b c Aiello, Rachel (December 28, 2017). "Can PM Trudeau keep drinkable water promise to First Nations?". CTV News. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  23. ^ a b c "Federal party leaders urged to end drinking water crisis in First Nation communities once and for all". Council of Canadians. Media Release. October 13, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  24. ^ a b c CBC 2006.


Further reading

  • StatsCan (2011a). Tsinstikeptum 9 (Report). National Household Survey (NHS) Focus on Geography Series. Statistics Canada. This series provides data on individual reserves including population by Aboriginal identity, immigrant population, educational attainment, labour, income and housing. In the documents footnote it was pointed out that, "[r]espondents self-identified as 'First Nations (North American Indian)' on the NHS questionnaire; however, the term 'First Nations people' is used throughout this document." In the document, "term 'Aboriginal identity' refers to whether the person reported being an Aboriginal person, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or being a Registered or Treaty Indian, (that is, registered under the Indian Act of Canada) and/or being a member of a First Nation or Indian band. Aboriginal peoples of Canada are defined in the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35 (2) as including the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada."

External links

Alert Bay

Alert Bay is a village on Cormorant Island, in the Regional District of Mount Waddington, British Columbia, Canada. 1,200-1,500 people live within the village.

Blood Indian Reserve No. 148

Blood 148 is a First Nations reserve in Alberta, Canada. It is inhabited by the Blood (Kainai) First Nation and was established under the provisions of Treaty 7. This reserve is managed from the town of Stand Off on its northwest border and encompasses the majority of lands bounded by the cities of Fort MacLeod, Lethbridge and Cardston. It is traversed by Alberta Highway 2, Highway 5 and Highway 509. The St Mary River and the Belly River are major rivers supplying and draining the lands.

At 1,413.87 km2 (545.90 sq mi), this is the largest reserve in Canada, and the third most populous after Six Nations and Akwesasne. On June 12, 2019 Federal Courts awarded an additional 162.5 sq mi of unspecified lands to bring its total area to 708.4 sq mi. It is located between the Cities of Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge and the Town of Cardston, bordering the Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26 to the northwest, the Lethbridge County to the northeast and Cardston County to the east, south and southwest.

Blue Quills First Nation Indian Reserve

Blue Quills First Nation Indian Reserve is a First Nations Indian reserve in Alberta, Canada, located 16 km northwest of the town of Mayerthorpe.

Cacouna Indian Reserve No. 22

Cacouna is a Maliseet First Nations reserve in Quebec, physically located within the Rivière-du-Loup Regional County Municipality (though not juridically part of it). It is surrounded by the city of the same name.

It is the smallest reserve in Canada, with an area of only 0.17 hectares (0.42 acres, or 18,300 square feet). It is not permanently inhabited.


Gitanyow is an Indian reserve community of the Gitxsan people, located on the Kitwanga River 8 km south of Kitwancool Lake, at the confluence of Kitwancool Creek. The community is located on Gitanyow Indian Reserve No. 1.Gitanyow was formerly named Kitwancool as was the Indian Reserve it is located on. The band government changed its name from the Kitwancool Indian Band to the Gitanyow Band in 1991. In 1994 the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, the governing body of the band, renamed themselves Sim-Gi-Get'm Gitanyow and asked that localities on the Kitwancool Indian reserve henceforth be identified as Gitanyow.KThe village of about 400 people is a National Historic Site of Canada.

Marten Falls First Nation

Marten Falls First Nation is an Anishinaabe First Nation reserve located in northern Ontario. The First Nation occupies communities on both sides of the Albany River in Northern Ontario, including Ogoki Post (Ojibwe: Ogookiing) in the Cochrane District and Marten Falls in the Kenora District. As of December 2013, the First Nation had a total registered population of 728 people, of which their on-reserve population was 328 people.

Mishkeegogamang First Nation

Mishkeegogamang First Nation No. 63, also known as New Osnaburgh, Osnaburgh House, or Osnaburgh for various settlements, or "Oz" for short, is a First Nation band government in the Canadian province of Ontario. Until 1993, the band was called the Osnaburgh First Nation.

It is an Ojibwe community and the people speak Oji-Cree, Ojibwe.

It is located along Highway 599 in the Kenora District, approximately 20 km (12 mi) south of Pickle Lake. Its total registered population as of January, 2018 is 1,920 . Of which the on-reserve population was over 1,000 people as of the 2016 Census). At one time a member of the Windigo First Nations Council, Mishkeegogamang First Nation is not part of any regional tribal councils as of February 2015; however, they have retained their membership with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Musqueam Indian Band

The Musqueam Indian Band (Halkomelem: xʷməθkʷəy̓əm IPA: [xʷməθkʷəjˀəm]) is a First Nations band government in the Canadian province of British Columbia and is the only First Nations band whose reserve community lies within the boundaries of the City of Vancouver.

One Arrow First Nation

One Arrow First Nation is a Cree First Nations band government in Bellevue, Saskatchewan, Canada. Its main reserve is located just south of Batoche near the South Saskatchewan River about 100 km Northeast of Saskatoon. The One Arrow First Nation's reserve is in the aspen parkland biome. It is bordered by the Rural Municipalities of St. Louis No. 431, Fish Creek No. 402, and Duck Lake No. 463.

Named after Chief One Arrow, a signatory to Treaty Six at Fort Carlton in 1876, the band had land disputes with the Métis of Batoche in the 1880s, and their supposed role in the Northwest Rebellion is quite controversial. Chief One Arrow himself claimed they were coerced into participating alongside Louis Riel, while the Métis claim they were allied.

Currently Chief Tricia Gamble presides over the band government.

It is the birthplace of singer, songwriter, actor and humanitarian/entrepreneur Tom Jackson.

Communities near One Arrow First Nation include Batoche, Bellevue, and Wakaw.

Saddle Lake Cree Nation

Saddle Lake Cree Nation is a Plains Cree, First Nations community, located in the Amiskwacīwiyiniwak ("Beaver Hills") region of central Alberta, Canada. The Nation is a signatory to Treaty 6, and their traditional language is Plains Cree.

Saddle Lake's governing structure is unusual in that it has two separate councils and chiefs governing their two reserves - Saddle Lake Cree Nation (proper) and the Whitefish Lake First Nation (often called "Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation" to distinguish it from a similarly named group in Manitoba). For the purposes of the Indian Act however, Saddle Lake and Whitefish have one, shared, band government and the two reserves are considered to be one Nation.

In June 2013, the Nation reported a population of 9,934 people, of which 6,148 people lived on their own Reserve. Their reported population size makes Saddle Lake the second most populous First Nation in Alberta (after the Kainai Nation also known as the Blood people). Of these 2,378 were members of the Whitefish Lake First Nation, with 1,778 of those living on-reserve, and remainder are members of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation proper.

Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation

The Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, also known as Many Rivers Joining-Human Beings, is a First Nations band government located in Ontario, Canada. Sagamok's culture and language is Anishinabek and is made up of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi bands. The Sagamok occupy the Sagamok reserve approximately 120 kilometres west of Sudbury, Ontario, and have a population of approximately 1400.In the early years of Canada's development, the French relied on Sagamok's strategic location to trade with the local Anishnaabe people of that time. The French base of operations was the nearby Fort La Cloche.


Saint-Maurice—Champlain is a federal electoral district in Quebec, Canada, that has been represented in the House of Commons of Canada since 2004.

It consists of:

the City of Shawinigan;

the Regional County Municipality of Le Haut-Saint-Maurice, including Communauté de Wemotaci Indian Reserve, Coucoucache Indian Reserve No. 24A and Obedjiwan Indian Reserve No. 28; and

the regional county municipalities of Les Chenaux and Mékinac.The neighbouring ridings are Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Trois-Rivières, Berthier—Maskinongé, Joliette, Laurentides—Labelle, and Pontiac.

Samson Indian Reserve No. 137

Samson Indian Reserve No. 137, also known as Samson No. 137 and Samson 137, and as the Samson Reserve, is an Indian reserve in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada.

It is inhabited by members of the Samson Cree Nation and was established under the provisions of Treaty 6.The reserve is located in Central Alberta, near Maskwacis and south of Wetaskiwin.

Saskatchewan Highway 658

Saskatchewan Highway 658 connects Saskatchewan Highway 4 near Red Pheasant Indian Reserve 108 to SK Hwy 4 near Battleford. Highway 658 travels around Mosquito Indian Reserve 109, whereas Highway 4 travels north through the Indian Reserve. To the north of Mosquito Indian Reserve 109 is Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man Indian Reserve. The centre of Battleford is 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from the Highway 658 Highway 4 junction. The length of Highway 658 is 41.2 kilometres (25.6 mi).

Squamish Nation

The Squamish Nation, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (IPA: [sqʷχʷoʔməʃ uxʷumixʷ]) in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim, is an Indian Act government originally imposed on the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) by the Federal Government of Canada in the late 19th century. The Squamish are Indigenous to British Columbia, Canada. Their band government comprises 16 elected councillors, serving four-year terms, with an elected band manager. Their main reserves are near the town of Squamish, British Columbia and around the mouths of the Capilano River, Mosquito Creek, and Seymour River on the north shore of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Star Blanket Cree Nation

Star Blanket Cree Nation is a First Nations band government in Saskatchewan, Canada. Its reserves are in the Fort Qu'Appelle area. The Star Blanket Cree Nation is one of the bands covered by Treaty 4.

Stony Plain Indian Reserve No. 135

Stony Plain 135 is an Indian reserve in central Alberta, Canada in Division No. 11. It is located adjacent to Parkland County and the City of Edmonton, Alberta. It is home to the Enoch Cree Nation. The postal address of the reserve is Enoch, Alberta.

Teslin Lake

Teslin Lake is a large lake spanning the border between British Columbia and Yukon, Canada. It is one of a group of large lakes in the region of far northwestern BC, east of the upper Alaska Panhandle, which are the southern extremity of the basin of the Yukon River, and which are known in Yukon as "the Southern Lakes" (the other major ones in the group are Atlin Lake and Tagish Lake but include Bennett and Lindeman Lakes, the headwaters of the Yukon River itself). The lake is fed and drained primarily by the Teslin River, south and north, but is also fed from the east by the Jennings River and the Swift River, and from the west by the Hayes River.

According to the Yukon Geographical Names Project, "Teslin" means "long water", but in the Tlingit language the local kwaan or tribe of Tlingit is called Deisleen Kwáan", meaning "Big Sinew Tribe".There are three Indian Reserves of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation around the south end of the lake: Jennings River Indian Reserve No. 8, Teslin Lake Indian Reserve No. 7, and Teslin Lake Indian Reserve No. 9; in the same area had been a Hudson's Bay Company trading post. On the Yukon portion of the lake there are three Indian Reserves of the Teslin Tlingit Council - Teslin Post Indian Reserve No. 13, Nisutlin Indian Reserve No. 14 and Nisutlin Bay Indian Reserve No. 15, and the community of Teslin, which is located where the Alaska Highway meets the lake, following its northern/eastern shore from there towards Whitehorse. The Nisutlin Plateau limns the eastern side of the lake north of the mouth of the Teslin River and extends into Yukon.

Urban Indian reserve

An urban Indian reserve (French: réserve indienne urbaine) is land that the Government of Canada has designated as a First Nations reserve that is situated within an urban area. Such lands allow for aboriginal commercial ventures which enjoy the tax exemptions offered to traditional reserves. They may be located within either a municipality or, in the case of Saskatchewan, a Northern Administration District.An urban reserve may result from either encroachment of a municipal area into existing reserve lands, or from the designation of land in an existing urban territory.Some commercial urban reserves exist as satellites to rural reserves. It has been suggested that the generated revenue will help maintain the economic well-being of the associated rural community.

Designations for types of administrative territorial entities
The Numbered Treaties
Numbered Treaties
International Indigenous and minority rights
Non-governmental and
political organizations
Legal representation
Historical cases

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.