Certificate of Possession

Certificate of Possession is documentary evidence of a First Nation member's lawful possession of Reserve lands pursuant to the Indian Act.  This is similar to buying a share in a company, but in this case the stock equals use of land.

The Government of Canada retains legal title to the land.  Consequently the Certificate of Possession (CP) holder (also known as a 'Locatee') cannot get a mortgage.

However, the CP holder is entitled to the use of the land, and rights are transferrable by sale or bequeath.  Therefore, any proposed development on CP land by a third-party requires an agreement and contract with the CP holder(s).  In some cases this can involve several families.

Did you know ...

Cowichan's practice of allotting parcels of land to individual families pre-dates colonisation, and it has one of the largest per-capita CP allocations among First Nation bands.
Most of the revenue from land rent or resource use goes to the Certificate of Possession holder.  Cowichan Tribes is only paid a nominal amount to negotiate and administer leases/agreements.

Almost all Cowichan Reserve land is allocated or claimed by individual band members.  The only communal land holdings are the site of the Administration complex and a parcel by St. Ann's Church leaving virtually no land for overall community development purposes unless the Band purchases it from the CP holder(s).