Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations, Canada, B.C. sign Agreement in Principle, move to final stage of treaty negotiations
The Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia and Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations have taken a significant step to move forward together with reconciliation, to begin to address the wrongs of the past and build a new relationship based on recognition of rights, co-operation, respect and partnership.
On June 28, 2019, the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations signed an Agreement in Principle (AIP) for a treaty with the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia.
Chief Robert Joseph of the Ditidaht First Nation; Chief Jeff Jones of the Pacheedaht First Nation; B.C. Premier John Horgan; John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, on behalf of Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, joined Ditidaht and Pacheedaht community members to celebrate the signing.
The joint AIP lays out the elements that will be included in separate treaty agreements with each of the two First Nations. These elements include ownership and co-operative management of land and resources, self-government and jurisdiction over a range of subject matters, harvesting rights, cultural and heritage protection, economic development opportunities and capital transfer.
Subject to further negotiations, treaty settlements with Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations will include lands from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in the West Coast Trail and Nitinaht Lake area and adjacent to the Pacheedaht community. The treaties will also support arrangements to preserve and enhance the West Coast Trail hiking experience and facilitate co-operative management within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Treaties are a foundation for a renewed relationship and a comprehensive way to recognize rights, advance self-determination and create an enduring nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous nations and government.
Chief Robert Joseph, Ditidaht First Nation —
“It is good to finally reach this watershed moment in our treaty negotiations. It took us a long time to get here; but we are signing our AIP today at least in part due to Ditidaht’s creative approach to resolving seemingly intractable problems. Other Nations, in the face of such problems, have often drawn a line in the sand and let negotiations stall. Some of these solutions, including getting some of our homeland returned from Parks Canada and negotiating the framework for a new approach to natural resource management with Canada and B.C. off our Treaty Settlement Lands, are very innovative and may even have a positive effect on negotiations elsewhere in B.C. These are important examples of our willingness to think through problems. These hard-won solutions should serve to increase our chances to successfully ratify the treaty, instead of being mired in a perpetual polarizing debate disguised as negotiation.”
Chief Jeff Jones, Pacheedaht First Nation —
“Our Nation has been at the negotiation table for many years. The AIP signing is an important milestone for us and with our community’s agreement, we look forward to moving into the Final Agreement stage of negotiations. In order to get us over the finish line, we expect parties to continue to be flexible and creative and to think outside the box. We are very proud to be at this point for our Nation and it is only the beginning as we continue to move in the direction of self-governance. We believe this milestone will provide Pacheedaht members with a better and brighter future, independent of the limitations of the Indian Act. Pacheedaht have sat tirelessly negotiating for what they think is right in terms of treaty for our Nation and we will continue to do so. Pacheedaht envision great opportunities for our people with this signing and we strive for the best for our next generations.”
John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia —
“Our government is proud to work with the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations toward a renewed government-to-government relationship, based on rights, reconciliation and respect. As we recognize the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations for their work to reach today’s milestone, we remain committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and building a better future for everyone in B.C., today and every day.”
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations —
“Treaties with the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht will allow us to move beyond the legacy of colonialism and move forward as partners to build a brighter future that respects and honours their right to self-determination. The signing of the Ditidaht Pacheedaht Agreement in Principle signals that we are committed to renewing the relationship and advancing reconciliation.”
John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City —
“This Agreement in Principle is an important step in our journey to forge a renewed relationship between the Government of Canada and the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations. It is an honour to be a part of this milestone moment – one that is close to my heart, having served in the role of superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. I am confident that this agreement will enrich the lives of Pacheedaht and Ditidaht members, while also enhancing the West Coast Trail hiking experience.”
Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada —
“As stewards of the land, we are working with Indigenous peoples to protect nature from coast to coast to coast. By working together with the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, we can share their stories and experiences with visitors from across the country and around the world. Managing the park reserve in co-operation with the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht will also advance our shared priority of ecological integrity in our protected spaces.”
Scott Fraser, British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation —
“Meaningful reconciliation demands we understand the truth of our shared history and address the past, while creating the foundation for relationships that will last far into the future. Our government is serious about creating real change and developing treaties that support lasting change and support healthy and prosperous First Nations communities, for the benefit of all British Columbians.”
- The Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations are Nuu-chah-nulth Tribes located on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.
- The traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation stretches inland from Cowichan Lake, down through Nitinaht Lake, and to the coast between Bonilla Point and Pachena Point. The territory reaches out to sea to the salmon, halibut and cod banks and includes the headwaters of streams and rivers that drain to the coastline.
- The traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation includes the lands and waters along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island between Bonilla Point and Sheringham Point.
Links to the Agreement in Principle:
Ditidaht First Nation: https://www.nitinaht.com/
Pacheedaht First Nation: http://pacheedahtfirstnation.com/
A backgrounder follows.
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