What is a Reserve?

A reserve is land set aside by our federal government for the use and occupancy of a First Nation group.

Reserves were created as part of the treaty making process with First Nations peoples. If a First Nation did not sign a treaty they were relocated to reserves anyway. Reserves are meant to be land set aside for the exclusive use of First Nations.

Reserves may or may not be within a treaty geographical boundary. In British Columbia, where most land was not officially surrendered through treaty, the federal government took the land anyway and moved First Nations peoples onto reserves without their consent.

In most cases our federal government located First Nations reserves in remote locations. Over 80% of the reserves in Canada are considered remote because of the extreme distances from service centres where basic goods can be obtained. Some are under water, some are vertical, and many are just swamplands or covered with sand dunes.

The Indian Act governs all reserves in Canada. The Act outlines that First Nations peoples cannot own title to land on reserve, and the Crown can use reserve land for any reason.

Our federal government has control over all reserves that exist today and actively enforce their legal authority.

Only registered status First Nation person who is an accepted member of that community can live on reserve.

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