Pushing ahead with First Nation treaty negotiations

British Columbia Treaty Commission moves forward on 14 negotiations involving 32 First Nations.

The British Columbia Treaty Commission says the political climate provincially and federally is ripe for pushing ahead stalled First Nation treaty negotiations.

The commission released its annual report Wednesday saying 14 negotiations involving 32 First Nations are in the advanced stages, and chief commissioner Celeste Haldane said the goal is to see those treaties signed in the next two years.

“The process has momentum now,” she said. “Communities are … able to break the shackles of the Indian Act, they’re truly self governing, they’re truly self-determining, and they’re actually doing things the way they want to based on what their communities’ needs are, I think that’s incredibly important.”

The commission was established in 1992 as an independent body to facilitate treaty negotiations between B.C. First Nations, the provincial and federal governments. There have been eight modern treaties signed in the province.

Commissioner Jerry Lampert said the discourse in Ottawa that indicates an interest in reconciliation as well as a noticeable “sea change” in Victoria with the new NDP government are encouraging.

“We see certain moves being made from the prime minister on down that indicate that the federal government wants to see progress,” he said. “That high level conversation has to get down to the grass-roots levels at the tables we attend where the negotiations take place.”

Since negotiations began in May 1993, the Commision has allocated $707 million in negotiation support funding 60 First Nations. The commission report says $551 million of that funding is in loans to the bands, while $156 million is a non-repayable funding contribution.

B.C.’s Minister for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser said the negotiation process needs to be improved so treaties can be reached sooner and First Nations aren’t left ”burdened with debt.”

“How treaties are negotiated, as well as government’s internal processes and mandates, must evolve to better reflect case law and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Fraser said in a news release.

The report said local and regional governments have also played a key role in finalizing recent treaty negotiations.

“When a First Nation prospers the whole region prospers,” Haldane said at a news conference. “If I look at the history of our country and the way our country was built, Indigenous communities were left out, in essence, and they haven’t necessarily been a part or a benefactor of that economic boom of the local economy and now we’re flipping the page for those communities to be truly meaningful partners.”

The report said the treaty for the Tla’amin Nation, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, was signed in 2016 thanks to a push from the Powell River mayor and councillors who went to Ottawa to advocate for its completion.

The report said the Tla’amin and the Powell River council now work together on regional plans that including real estate and resource development.

Commissioner Tom Happynook, from the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, said a treaty has ensured his community now has complete control over land and infrastructure issues, a past frustration for the band.

He said it once took seven months for his community to get permission under the Indian Act to move fallen trees after a storm, and months longer to sell the trees and gain access to the funds.

“We are moving forward with our people’s desires, we are in such a different place than we were before shackled to the Indian Act,” Happynook said.

The commission said 65 First Nations out of the 200 Indian Act bands in B.C. are participating in or have already completed treaty negotiations.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Three days in the ER, not uncommon in Abbotsford: report

One in 10 admitted patients spends more than 69 hours in emergency

If it snows, move your car

Streets in Mission that have cars parked on them, won’t get plowed this winter

Man accused of shooting at border agents loses final bid to appeal extradition order

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford following cross-border manhunt in 2013

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

B.C. government to launch coastal ferry review in January

The Province will begin a comprehensive review of the coastal ferry service in British Columbia in 2018

5 to start your day

A rhyming MP getting into the Christmas spirit on the hill, Langley boy chased by two men and more

Federal Crown drops appeal after charges against pot activist dismissed

Dana Larsen said he was served notice at his home in Vancouver and the case was to be heard July 2

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

Kensington Palace announced the date to the public Friday

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

PART I: How Prince Rupert schools teach Indigenous language to hundreds of students

A multimedia series with videos and photos from children’s Sm’algyax classes on B.C.’s North Coast

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

B.C. Interior First Nation create a community radio station

The Tsilhqot’in National Government is developing a radio station to promote language revitalization and create unity

Most Read