AOK First Nation begins touchy process of settling tax issues

LITTLE CURRENT—Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) First Nation Chief Patsy Corbiere met with the Northeast Town council last week, along with Kevin McNamee of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), to discuss the Addition to Reserve (ATR) process for AOK.

“Dave (town CAO Dave Williamson) and I met with Chief Corbiere and spoke in general terms about AOK beginning its ATR process with AANDC,” Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin explained to council, referring the councillors to hand-outs which listed AOK’s adjacent-to-reserve properties which AOK has submitted as proposed ATRs. Mayor MacNevin added that the meeting was held at the request of Chief Corbiere to help make council more aware of the ATR process.

Chief Corbiere told council that there were two types of properties owned by the band in the Northeast Town, ones purchased before 1998 and ones after.

“The properties purchased after 1998 are subject to municipal taxes, while the properties purchased before are not,” said Chief Corbiere. “We believe the government should continue to pay the taxes on the properties purchased after 1998 once the ATR process is complete, but we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want the ATR process settled, but we don’t want to hurt our neighbours.”

Mr. Williamson clarified with council that AANDC and AOK were there to consult with the Northeast Town, and that council was able to provide input, but ultimately, the decision would be the federal government’s.

Based on the assessed value of the AOK properties in the Northeast Town purchased after 1998, Mr. Williamson told council that if the properties were to become part of AOK it would mean a $4,550.96 decrease in municipal property taxes collected.

Mr. McNamee reviewed the lengthy Indian and Northern Affairs Canada ATF policy with council, noting that a new policy was currently being created, but that many elements would remain the same.

“Reserve creation is not addressed in the Indian Act or other federal legislation,” explained Mr. McNamee. “Lands are set apart as (First Nation) reserves through the exercise of the Federal Crowns Royal Prerogative by the Governor General in Council. The ATR policy was created in 1972 to address this legislative gap and to outline the circumstances under which Canada will favourably consider granting reserve status to land. The policy was reviewed, in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations.”

“All ATR proposals are reviewed by AANDC to ensure policy requirements are met,” added Mr. McNamee.”

As time was limited, councillors were asked to contact Mr. McNamee following the special meeting of council to have enquires addressed.

Mayor MacNevin reiterated an earlier statement from Chief Corbiere, explaining that the ATR process is long and that this was simply an initial meeting.

Robin Burridge