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B.C. legislation changes take effect for First Nations land ownership rights

The legislation allows federally recognized First Nations to hold land directly
B.C.’s bill 13 was approved in the legislature on April 4. (Don Denton)

Changes to legislation that took effect Tuesday (May 21) have officially removed a major barrier that hindered First Nations in B.C. from owning land.

Updates to B.C.’s Land Title and Property Law acts, also known as Bill 13, have been updated to remove legal roadblocks requiring most First Nations to create corporations or use other proxies to acquire and hold land in their name. This meant First Nations couldn’t acquire, hold or sell land or hold a lease.

The legislation brings the land ownership laws around First Nations in line with individuals, corporations and modern treaty nations across B.C.

READ MORE: B.C. property act changes allow First Nations to purchase, hold and sell land

“The changes eliminate a discriminatory and racist legal barrier that added time and cost to First Nations land registration,” the province said in a news release. “A connection with land is central to the identity of many First Nations. Ensuring that First Nations have the same opportunity to hold fee simple land directly represents an important step forward on the path to reconciliation.”

The province says the legislation was a result of consultation with First Nations and advanced the commitment to UNDRIP that the government made in 2019.

An additional change to the Land Owner Transparency Act updates the processes for First Nations to register land to be the same as the provincial government.