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Treaty negotiations update for the Skeena region

June 18, 2024 at 4:13 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Since the early 1990s, the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum First Nations, along with Canada and B.C., have been working on comprehensive modern treaties.

Negotiations are now substantially complete on two proposed treaties, separate for each First Nation, but negotiated together at a common table.

Planning is underway to initial the treaties, which begins a process over several years to determine if the proposed treaties will be ratified.

In 2015, B.C., Canada and each First Nation reached Agreements-in-Principle (AIP) on proposed treaties, establishing agreement on the substantive elements to be detailed in the completed treaties. In the years since, B.C., Kitselas and Kitsumkalum have engaged with all levels of government, industry, interest holders and people in the region on various elements of the proposed treaties.

Initialling the treaties will signal that all parties agree that negotiations are now complete and the ratification or approval process can begin. Each treaty will go through a formal ratification process with membership of each First Nation voting on the draft Treaty. If ratified by the First Nations, legislation to ratify the treaties provincially and federally will follow. The effective date for the treaties is anticipated for 2028.

The Kitselas and Kitsumkalum First Nations, and the federal and provincial governments, have been negotiating through the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations process, working closely with the B.C. Treaty Commission, with public consultation and local governments involved. This process provided opportunities for people to share their needs and shape treaty provisions. As a result, these treaties codify work together on shared regional priorities established in the 2015 AIP.

The proposed treaties would:

  • ensure Aboriginal rights are recognized and not extinguished, and through treaties describe the parties’ agreement on the exercise of rights;
  • lay out negotiated approaches to self-governance, and land to be owned and governed by each First Nation;
  • address existing interests and tenures on proposed treaty lands (interest holders have been engaged on the proposed approach to their tenure or interest);
  • allow access to the land for hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing and other recreational uses, with provisions allowing continued general, non-commercial, recreational access for the same type of activities offered on land held by the Crown prior to the treaty; and
  • formalize consultation and opportunities for co-management of resources within the First Nations’ traditional territory.

B.C. will continue to consult with neighbouring First Nations. The First Nations and provincial and federal governments will engage with the public, interest holders and local governments, among others, during the coming months about the proposed treaties, as well as the BC treaty negotiations process. 

Through the two treaties, Kitselas and Kitsumkalum will no longer be subject to the federal Indian Act. The treaties provide significant certainty in the territory through a modern and constitutionally recognized government-to-government-to-government agreement. 

Established modern treaties have resulted in 8.8% higher average wages for people in their regions, and the investment of billions of dollars in local communities and their economies. Kitsumkalum and Kitselas have been developing economic opportunities with industry in anticipation of completing the treaties.

More information and future updates will be provided online:
https://engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/engagement/kitselas-and-kitsumkalum-treaty-negotiations/

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