4.35 To convert 150,000 hectares per year (as required under the 2006 commitment), the Department must process a much higher number of selections. At the end of our review, more than 430 selections – nearly 650,000 hectares of reserve land – were converted to Manitoba. 4.21 During this review, the Department provided us with information on costs, the hectares to which First Nations are entitled and the areas they have chosen. We found many examples of data from the Manitoba region that were imprecise or incomplete. In each of these cases, we have taken all reasonable steps to obtain the most accurate information available. The data from this review are the best estimates in the department and our best estimates, based on the available information. 4.36 In this follow-up audit, we found that in Saskatchewan, approximately 62 per cent of the selected hectares were processed, up from 58 per cent in 2005. Since 2005, the department has converted more than 89,000 hectares into reserves in Saskatchewan. Of the 25 First Nations that were part of the original land arrangement agreement, 22 received their minimum reserve acres.
Three other First Nations, which are covered by more recently signed agreements, have also reached their minimum reserves. The ministry has identified more than 700 land selections that have yet to be converted, or 451,000 hectares of reserve land. Unlike Manitoba, the average stock size of land selection in Saskatchewan remains about the same as that which has been processed to date, about 600 hectares. As a general rule, a TLE transaction agreement defines a quantity of land that a First Nation can acquire either on a buyer-consenting seller basis, or from an unoccupied Crown country or, in some cases, in an agreed-upon purchase or selection area. First Nations, which have not received all the countries to which they were entitled to land authorization (TEL) under contracts signed by the Crown and First Nations, can apply to the Government of Canada for a land law contract. TLE implementation agreements are negotiated between First Nations and the Government of Canada, usually with the participation of provincial and territorial governments. The federal government must meet contractual obligations to provide First Nations with the promised amount of reserve countries. Contractual land rights agreements give First Nations the right to choose the Crown or the means to purchase private land or both. These agreements are modern legal obligations that recognize that the government is not meeting its contractual obligations. These obligations go beyond land issues, but the agreements we are looking at focus on land transfers.
India and northern Canada are responsible for managing the implementation of these agreements on behalf of the federal government, including the conversion of land selected or acquired to reserve status. In 1992, the provincial and federal governments and 25 First Nations signed the Saskatchewan Treaty Framework Agreement. It has set out a framework for the implementation of THE LET obligations. Eight subsequent TLE agreements with First Nations were signed. The 1997 Land Rights (TLE) contract partially fulfills the land rights provided for us in Contract 5 and will add 324 square kilometres to our reserve countries, or about 80,000 hectares. The department`s response. Canada is committed to fulfilling its legitimate obligations to First Nations by terminating the rights of the contracting country.