Eighteen First Nations communities in Canada signed paperwork to opt out of land-related rules under the Indian Act and to allow them more control over their own resources.
The signing occurred in Ottawa as the 18 communities signed on to the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management.
The agreement means these First Nations are opting out of 34 land-related sections of the 1982 Indian Act. They will instead develop their own land codes and set the rules and procedures for managing their lands and resources.
One of the goals is to allow for expanded economic development on reserves and increase business partnerships with the private sector.
There are now about 60 First Nations operating under their own land codes.
"This important step will allow them to operate at the speed of business, creating economic and job opportunities and leading to more self-sufficient communities," Duncan said in a news release.
Chief Robert Louie, chair of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board, said: "Eighteen more First Nations now have the opportunity to assume jurisdiction over their reserve lands. This control is a critical step on the path to self-sufficiency," he said in the government's news release.