In June the Yellow Quill First Nation enacted its Property Taxation and Assessment Laws, becoming the first Saskatchewan First Nation to develop their laws entirely under the First Nations Fiscal Management Act. Yellow Quill joins Whitecap Dakota First Nation, White Bear First Nations, and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation taxing under the FMA, and is now among nine communities collecting tax under either the FMA or the Indian Act.
For Yellow Quill, the laws are integral to the First Nation’s plan to develop its Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) Lands in downtown Saskatoon into an office complex. Property tax revenue will pay for the services provided by the City of Saskatoon to the office complex, and will afford Yellow Quill the ability to improve and expand community infrastructure and services. In development for over a year, the laws are key to Yellow Quill’s vision of continued community growth.
“Yellow Quill and its membership are proud of establishing this jurisdiction,” said Yellow Quill First Nation Chief Larry Cachene. “The decision to tax, particularly the decision to use the FMA, had a lot do with creating the best opportunities for investment and economic growth.”
Yellow Quill’s taxation of TLE lands follows the path first carved out by Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in 1992. Under the TLE Framework, Saskatchewan Treaty First Nations can acquire lands in and outside of municipal jurisdiction and convert the land into reserves. Where reserves are established within city boundaries, First Nations must negotiate a municipal services agreement with the city.
The passage of the laws is also satisfying for Yellow Quill Tax Administrator Leila Nashacappo who was a student in the First Nation Tax Administration Certificate Program at the Tulo Centre of Indigenous Economics.
“At Tulo we studied the FMA legislative framework and how First Nations establish their tax jurisdiction. That experience served me well in helping to develop communication materials for Council and the membership. A lot of hard work went into this, and its so good to see the finished product.”
This article originally appeared in the First Nations Tax Commission newsletter Clearing the Path