Developing Reserves

Manitoba First Nations have historically practiced responsible and sustainable land management. In the modern era, the practices have evolved to include urban reserves. 

About Land Management

Treaties in Manitoba

Three Manitoba Uske members at drone training

There are seven Treaties with First Nations in Manitoba: Treaties 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. Treaties 1 through 5 cover the majority of Manitoba. They were negotiated and entered into by Treaty Commissioners on behalf of the Crown and First Nations leaders. 

The Treaties are sacred documents governing the relationship between sovereign Indigenous nations and the Crown as represented by the Government of Canada. They set out promises, obligations and benefits for both the First Nations and the Crown. 

Through these Treaties, First Nations sought to safeguard their languages, traditions and cultures while sharing lands with Canadians. 

In the decades that followed the signing of the treaties, many promises and obligations that were made to First Nations were broken. Today, through ongoing negotiation as well as legal precedents, First Nations and the Crown are attempting to fulfill the spirit of those Treaties. 

One of the most important aspects of this process of reconciliation is in the area of land management. First Nations rely on land management practices to responsibly and sustainably develop reserve lands. 

Many First Nations are owed the opportunity to create urban reserves, which is land set apart by the Crown within or adjacent to an urban municipality for the use and benefit of a First Nation. 

About The Treaties

If you are looking for more information Treaties in Manitoba, please visit the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba website.

Treaty No. 1 was negotiated and entered into in 1871 at Lower Fort Garry. It covers communities such as Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage La Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Winkler and many more.

Treaty No. 2 was negotiated and entered into in 1871 at Manitoba House. Some of the communities that share obligations under this treaty include Brandon, Dauphin, Minnedosa, Roblin and Virden, but many others are covered too. Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park are within Treaty No. 2 area.

Treaty No. 3 was negotiated and entered into in 1873 at Lake of the Woods. This treaty’s area lies mostly within Ontario, but Manitoba’s Buffalo Point First Nation is a party to it. It covers areas including most of Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Treaty No. 4 was negotiated and entered into in 1874 at Fort Qu’appelle and Fort Ellice. Most of the area governed by the treaty is in Saskatchewan, but it also covered parts of Manitoba including Birch River, Swan River and Westgate.

Treaty No. 5 was negotiated and concluded in 1875 at Beren’s River, Norway House and Grand Rapids. It covers most of northern Manitoba stretching from The Pas in the west to the Little Grand Rapids and Garden Hill in the east. And from Little Saskatchewan in the south to Nunavut.

Treaties No. 6 and 10 have no territories in Manitoba, however four communities are signatories to those treaties. 

Treaty No. 6 was negotiated and concluded in 1986 at Fort Carlton. Most of it covers territories in Saskatchewan, but it also includes Manitoba communities of Charles, Ruddock, Sherridon and others. 

Treaty No. 10 was negotiated and entered into in 1906 at Canoe Lake. It is also largely in Saskatchewan, but was signed by communities in Manitoba including Barren Lands and Northlands. 

It’s worth noting that five Manitoba First Nations are not signatories to any Treaty with Canada. They are the Birdtail Sioux, Sioux Valley, Canupawakpa, Dakota Tipi and Dakota Plains.

Urban Reserves

How Are urban reserves Created?

There are two types of urban reserves. Some are created when an urban area grows into an existing First Nation reserve. Others are newly created as a way for First Nations to access larger, urban markets and improve the economic opportunities for their people. 

The process of creating an urban reserve begins with a First Nation acquiring land in a municipality. They can then ask the Canadian government to transfer that land to reserve status. 

Once that occurs, the First Nation negotiates a municipal services agreement with the city or town in which its new urban reserve is located. Those agreements address various issues including fees for municipal services, tax-loss compensation and dispute resolution procedures. 

Why urban reserves make sense?

Urban reserves are an important step forward in the economic reconciliation between First Nations and Canada. Many traditional reserves are located on land that is economically marginal. It can be difficult to provide basic services to people living on reserve and even harder to provide access to the generally high standard of living enjoyed by most Canadians. 

Urban reserves provide First Nations with an opportunity to generate income, compete for global markets and provide jobs for their people. 

Urban reserves also benefit the municipalities they occupy in numerous ways. First, the usually represent significant investments which brings economic activity to towns and cities through jobs, increased spending and higher municipal levies. 

Land Management On urban Reserve

The practice of land management is vital for the success of urban reserves. Land managers represent their First Nations and work closely with municipal, provincial and federal governments to bring urban reserves to life. 

They must follow the bylaws and regulations set down by all four levels of government and ensure the new urban reserves meet the expectations of each. In this way, development of urban reserves must clear much higher regulatory hurdles than typical municipal developments. This means ensuring everything from municipal zoning bylaws to provincial conservation and environmental regulations, as well as federal protocols governing urban reserves in general. 

Manitoba Uske members at drone training in a field

Land Management On Reserve

Land management is a vital skill for every First Nation to have. Land managers are highly skilled advisors to chiefs and councils who can make recommendations for responsible and sustainable development. 

Land managers can advise on any number of kinds of projects including: 

  • Roads and other reserve infrastructure
  • Resource development including mines
  • Commercial development including stores and office buildings
  • Industrial development including industrial parks
  • First Nations government development including parks, sports and recreation facilities, government buildings and more. 

Land managers must follow development regulations set out by various levels of government. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are urban reserves?
Do they pay taxes?
Can anyone visit?