Land transfers under incremental treaty agreements with British Columbia will open new economic opportunities to four First Nation communities in the Cariboo.
The incremental treaty agreements provide for the transfer of up to 3,760 hectares of Crown land to Tsq’escen’ First Nation (Canim Lake), Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek), Xat’sūll First Nation (Soda Creek) and T’exelc First Nation (Williams Lake), in advance of a final treaty.
The First Nations are represented by the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) treaty group which is negotiating a treaty with British Columbia and Canada.
The incremental treaty agreement lands will support forestry, tourism, commercial and industrial business opportunities for NStQ First Nations. The agreements also include funding for construction of fencing to address the interests of cattle ranchers affected by the agreements.
Incremental treaty agreement lands will be transferred in two phases. Phase one would occur after members of the NStQ communities successfully ratify their treaty Agreement-in-Principle and move to Final Agreement negotiations. Phase two would happen after British Columbia, Canada and NStQ conclude a Final Agreement.
The NStQ communities are voting on their treaty Agreement-in-Principle on Feb. 11, 2016.
Phase one land transfers:
- Tsq’escen’ First Nation will receive 105.4 ha in two parcels.
- Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation will receive 551.6 ha in two parcels.
- Xat’sūll First Nation will receive 137.8 ha in two parcels.
- T’exelc First Nation will receive 1,178.4 ha in one parcel.
Phase two land transfers:
- Tsq’escen’ First Nation will receive 648 ha in two parcels.
- Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation will receive two parcels selected from three options, up to a maximum of 827.2 ha.
- Xat’sūll First Nation will receive 78.9 ha in two parcels.
- T’exelc First Nation will receive 230.8 ha in one parcel.
The First Nations will own their respective incremental treaty agreement lands in fee-simple, and the lands will be included as treaty settlement lands in a final treaty.
Through careful land selection and provincial engagement with potentially affected cattle ranchers, lands provided for under the incremental treaty agreements will not affect grazing rights or herd sizes.
The Province of British Columbia created incremental treaty agreements to build goodwill with First Nations and provide treaty-related benefits in advance of Final Agreements, which can take many years to negotiate. The early agreements also provide increased certainty on the land base for First Nations, industry and all British Columbians.
Including the new agreements with the NStQ First Nations, 24 First Nations have incremental treaty agreements.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“Incremental treaty agreements provide the NStQ nations a sense of the economic opportunities and prosperity they would see through a final treaty. These agreements will help create jobs and economic opportunities for both the First Nations and surrounding communities. Incremental treaty agreements are made-in-B.C. innovations, and one of the many ways B.C. is partnering with First Nations to advance reconciliation, and economic and social development.”
Chief Michael Archie, Tsq’escen’ First Nation (Canim Lake) –
“We are pleased that British Columbia has recognized the many years of hard work and dedication that our people have put into a future of self-determination, going back over 100 years, and more recently since we entered the modern treaty process in 1993.These incremental treaty agreements are a stepping stone for building relationships and trust with our treaty negotiating partners. This commitment gives us hope for our future by creating incentives to reach milestones and provide increased assurance over our lands, economic development and resources. We owe a debt of gratitude to our Canim Lake elders who began the process, and today honour those who have since passed on.”
Chief Patrick Harry, Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek) –
“I want to recognize my people, the Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem Nation, for the unwavering commitment that brings us to this point where parcels of our long-alienated territory are at last returned. From these transferred lands we will have immediate opportunities for economic development and can show our longstanding dedication to forest and environmental stewardship. This is a step to realizing the Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem vision of an economically and self-sustaining community. And we look forward to the Phase two transfers to provide further significant benefits. We also want to see this as a demonstration of British Columbia’s good faith in upcoming negotiations on the Final Agreement. Kukwstsétsemc!”
Chief Donna Dixon, Xat’sūll First Nation (Soda Creek) –
“The lands identified by the community have historical and cultural importance for Xat’sūll (Soda Creek). The signing of the incremental treaty agreement is an opportunity to immediately reclaim lands that we have been isolated from for many years. These lands were identified for the purpose of supporting job creation, future planning and development, and give us renewed access to lands that had supported our community for generations. We are encouraged by the fact that we can begin to move toward positive progress now, prior to a final treaty agreement.”
Chief Ann Louie, T’exelc First Nation (Williams Lake) –
“The land selected by our community members is very close to the current community, or reserve, lands and will provide us with increased economic opportunities and allow us to manage these lands as well. There are significant historical and cultural values connected to these lands. Many years of input from community negotiations are finally showing results of our treaty discussions.”
Ron Kaufman, Dunlevy Ranch –
“Provincial negotiators met with me several times and listened to my concerns. I appreciate the efforts of the Soda Creek Indian Band and the provincial government in reaching an agreement that supports my continued ranching operations and allows the First Nation to pursue an economic development opportunity.”
- Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) treaty group is negotiating a treaty on behalf of its four member bands, which together have more than 2,500 members.
- NStQ is in Stage 4 Agreement-in-Principle negotiations with British Columbia and Canada through the B.C. treaty process.
- The Province has issued a First Nations woodland licence to Tsq’escen’ First Nation through a program designed to provide long-term, area-based logging rights to First Nations.
- Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation and Xat’sūll First Nation have respective forestry revenue sharing agreements with British Columbia.
- T’exelc First Nation and Xat’sūll First Nation signed a letter of understanding with British Columbia in August 2014 to work in partnership to address all aspects of the breach of the tailings storage facility that occurred at the Mount Polley Mine.
NStQ incremental treaty agreements: http://ow.ly/WVu16
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation: ow.ly/PBGQi
NStQ Treaty Group: nstqtreaty.ca
Tsq’escen’ First Nation (Canim Lake): canimlakeband.com
Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek): canoecreekband.ca
Xat’sūll First Nation (Soda Creek): xatsull.com
T’exelc First Nation (Williams Lake): williamslakeband.ca