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Canada Indigenous Land Overview (3-CAN-b)

Information current as of 2019
In Canada, a developer (Lessee) may need a Lease of Designated Lands or a Lease of Locatee Lands from the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (Department) for any project requiring exclusive possession of reserve land. Reserve land are tracts of land, the legal title to which is vested in the Crown, that have been set apart by the Crown for the use and benefit of a Band. Bands are a “body of Indians for whose use and benefit in common, lands, the legal title to which is vested in [the Crown] have been set apart.” Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5|Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-5, s. 2(1).


Although Bands have the right of exclusive use and occupation of reserve lands, the legal title belongs to the Crown and the lands are held in trust for bands by the federal government. The Department must approve of or grant most land transactions. Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Development Canada – Land Development Webpage. Obtaining leases for exclusive possession of reserve land therefore requires coordination with Bands, Locatees (Certificate of Possession Holder) and the federal government.

Bands may designate reserve land for specific purposes, which the Department may then lease to third parties in accordance with the designation via a Lease of Designated Lands. Leases are contracts that grant exclusive possession of reserve land for a specified period and for some authorized use. Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Development Canada – Land Development Webpage; Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. l-5, s. 37, 38, 53(1). In addition, a Locatee may request that the Department lease their allotted reserve land to a third party via a Lease of Locatee Lands. Indian Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. l-5, s. 58(1).



Indigenous Land Overview Process


3-CAN-b.1 – Contact the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

A developer should contact the Department for more information on projects on reserve land, the processes for obtaining a Lease on Designated Lands or a Lease on Locatee Lands and any permits, easements or right of ways that may be required.

3-CAN-b.2 to 3-CAN-b.3 – Does the Project Require Exclusive Use of Unallotted Reserve Land?

A developer (lessee) may need a Lease of Designated Lands if the project requires exclusive possession to unallotted reserve land for a specified period of time. Unallotted reserve land is common land which is not under the lawful possession of a Locatee. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Land Management Manual, Directive 7.1, s. 2.2(g). If a developer needs a Designation Lease, see:

Designation Land Lease:
3- CAN-c

3-CAN-b.4 to 3-CAN-b.5 – Does the Project Require Exclusive Use of Allotted Reserve Land?

A developer may need a Lease of Locatee Lands if the project requires exclusive possession of allotted land. Allotted land is reserve land in lawful possession of a Locatee. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada – Locatee Lease Policy and Directive Webpage; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Land Management Manual, Directive 7.3. If a developer needs a Locatee Lease, see:

Locatee Land Lease:
3- CAN-d


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Edit Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
General Contact 1-800-567-9604 aadncabbazabbainfopubsabbazabbaaandc@canadaabbazabbaca Visit Website