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Land Management on First Nations Reserves: Lawful Possession and its Determinants




Much debate concerning property rights reserves in Canada focuses on socio-economic impacts and the potential for individualized land tenure to support economic development, thereby reducing poverty. Study of existing forms of individual property on reserves is needed to inform these debates. In this article, we examine data on the lawful possession (Certificate of Possession) system that is currently used on reserves across Canada. We provide descriptive statistics regarding the variability of lawful possessions across First Nations and using regression analysis we assess which socio-economic, demographic, and locational variables influence the use of lawful possessions instead of communal land or other customary land holding systems. We show that use of the lawful possession system is surprisingly low and very uneven. As well, our regression results suggests that using the system requires a relatively educated community with low levels of poverty, with a favourable geographic location. Overall, the results are consistent with the view that lawful possessions are not primarily used to foster economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Marena Brinkhurst & Anke Kessler, 2013. "Land Management on First Nations Reserves: Lawful Possession and its Determinants," Discussion Papers dp13-04, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  • Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp13-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, Terry L. & Parker, Dominic P., 2009. "Economic development lessons from and for North American Indian economies," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 53(1), March.
    2. Bruce, John W., 1998. "Review Of Tenure Terminology," Tenure Briefs 12814, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Land Tenure Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aragón, Fernando M., 2015. "Do better property rights improve local income?: Evidence from First Nations' treaties," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 43-56.

    More about this item


    First Nations; land use; lawful possession; property rights; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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