New partnerships on Vancouver Island and the mid-coast will strengthen the relationship between First Nations and the provincial government and create economic opportunities, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Mary Polak announced today.
Polak and Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell joined members of the Nanwakolas First Nations to celebrate three significant milestones in the growing partnership with Nanwakolas Council Society: a reconciliation protocol, a forestry agreement and an addition to the Strategic Engagement Agreement.
A new reconciliation protocol will help five Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations, members of the Nanwakolas Council, maintain their important relationship to the land, while supporting communities and economic growth. The agreement will help the First Nations develop their economy through opportunities in forestry, tourism and clean energy.
Through the protocol agreement, B.C. also agrees to discuss revenue-sharing opportunities for tourism, mines and clean-power projects that may be developed. Carbon-offset sharing opportunities will be implemented, similar to reconciliation protocol agreements signed with the Coastal First Nations and Council of the Haida Nation.
The protocol agreement focuses on strengthening community prosperity and social development, which will in turn lay the foundations for improved community well-being. The First Nations will identify their social priorities through community plans and collaborate with the Province to determine programs and services that will help them achieve their human well-being objectives.
One of the key benefits of the protocol is the negotiation of a comprehensive forestry schedule that also takes effect today.
The forestry schedule gives the five First Nations access to 52,993 cubic metres of timber per year in various replaceable licences and 39, 457 cubic metres per year in five-year, non-replaceable licences. The schedule also commits the First Nations and Province to reach agreement on a model for joint-decision making on strategic forest management issues and enhanced forestry revenue-sharing, which will provide stability and certainty for all forestry operators in the area.
As another example of the growing relationship with the Nanwakolas First Nations, the Wei Wai Kum (formerly Campbell River) First Nation has chosen to join the Strategic Engagement Agreement (SEA) between the Province and Nanwakolas. First signed in 2009, seven Nanwakolas First Nations have now joined the agreement that formalizes a single window for referrals on natural resource applications within Nanwakolas traditional territory, providing increased certainty to investors.
Wei Wai Kum's participation adds approximately 80,000 hectares to the agreement, for a total of approximately 3.5 million hectares. There are currently 13 major project proposals in the SEA area. As a result of signing the Strategic Engagement Agreement, Wei Wai Kum First Nation will receive a percentage increase in the revenue-sharing agreed to in their Forestry Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreement.
In the two years since it was implemented, the SEA has shown positive results. More than 90 per cent of referrals to First Nations are being completed within targeted timelines, resulting in greater predictability for industry and resource development.
B.C. and Nanwakolas have a long-standing, strong government-to-government relationship established in several agreements dating back to 2001. As a symbol of their relationship a traditionally-carved, 11-meter canoe that was paddled in Vancouver as part of the 2010 Olympics was gifted to the Province by Nanwakolas Council President Dallas Smith. It will be permanently installed on display in the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations -
"This protocol is an opportunity for lasting and comprehensive reconciliation between the Nanwakolas First Nations and British Columbia that will help the First Nations achieve progress toward their social and economic goals. The protocol will help provide increased certainty for business and a stronger economic base, with economic and employment benefits for the Nanwakolas First Nations and neighbouring communities."
Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation -
"Over the last 10 years, the Province and various Nanwakolas First Nations have begun to create a more positive operating environment for business, to strengthen B.C.'s investment climate and reduce the consultation burden. The reconciliation protocol provides the Nanwakolas Council with strategic access to Crown lands to develop back country recreational activities, which will strengthen tourism opportunities across the region.
"I also want to thank Nanwakolas Council President Dallas Smith for donating the traditionally carved canoe that was used during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The canoe will be on permanent display at the Vancouver Convention Centre as a legacy of the Games and the Nanwakolas people."
Mayor of Port McNeill Gerry Furney -
"As mayor of Port McNeill for 36 years, I've seen our relationship with the Nanwakolas First Nations make great strides. These agreements support development that is guided by the mutual interests of the First Nations, B.C. and local municipalities. I congratulate the Province and the Nanwakolas Council on reaching an agreement that will support a sustainable economy and jobs, while at the same time ensuring environmental and cultural protection."
- The Nanwakolas Council Society is a group of eight Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations on northern Vancouver Island and the mid-coast, who joined together in 2007 to work collaboratively on land and marine resource use, management and planning issues and responses to provincial government resource development referrals.
- The five First Nations in the reconciliation protocol are: Tlowitsis, Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em, Da'naxda'xw Awaetlala, Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw and K'omoks First Nations.
- The Nanwakolas Council, on behalf of the five signatory First Nations, received $250,000 on signing the protocol and receives two separate sums of $200,000 per year, in the second and third year of the agreement, upon achieving progress in implementing this protocol.
- This is the third reconciliation protocol between B.C. and First Nations, following the signing of protocols with the Council of the Haida Nation and six Coastal First Nations in 2009. Last week, the Haisla Nation became the seventh First Nation to join the Coastal First Nations Reconciliation Protocol.
- The seven participating Nanwakolas First Nations that are signatories to the SEA are: Da'naxda'xw Awaetlala, Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw, K'omoks, Kwakiutl, Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em, Tlowitsis and Wei Wei Kum. Their traditional territories cover roughly 3.2 million hectares, stretching from Parksville to north of Cape Caution, and extending inland across to Knight Inlet on the Mainland.
- Other Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations may participate in the Nanwakolas Strategic Engagement Agreement and subsequently in the Reconciliation Agreement at a later date, as Wei Wai Kum First Nation has recently done.
To find out more about these agreements, go to: http://www.newrelationship.gov.bc.ca/agreements_and_leg/reconciliation.html.
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 361-7720 (cell)
Nanwakolas Council Society
For more information about Nanwakolas First Nations: www.nanwakolas.com