It has been more than 60 years since the Cheslatta people were displaced from their homes and cultural sites to make way for construction of Kenny Dam in northwestern B.C. Today, the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and the B.C. Government signed a framework agreement designed to help heal historic wounds and shape a better future.
“We cannot change history, but working together, we can create more opportunity and sustainable prosperity for the Cheslatta people,” said Premier Christy Clark, during a visit with the Cheslatta community that included seeing first-hand one of the graveyards that has been subject to flooding. “With goodwill and commitment we are working to chart a new path to reconciliation and the agreement we’ve signed today moves us closer to that goal.”
“The recognition and willingness of the provincial government to resolve this on-going issue between the Cheslatta t’en and B.C. gives me confidence that, as a community leader, I can move my people forward with dignity toward a long term resolution,” said Chief Corrina Leween. “I’m excited, emotional and pleased and I believe this Agreement will be positive for the Cheslatta community, as well as, for neighbouring First Nations, our local community and the Region as a whole.”
Through the framework agreement, the Cheslatta and the Province will explore economic opportunities in the resource sector, power infrastructure to support future industrial development, cultural, heritage and training initiatives and financial payments. The potential transfers of Crown land and resource-use tenures for economic and social development will also be examined.
The purchase of private land for community expansion and economic development will be considered, but only on a willing seller, willing buyer basis. Overall, the framework agreement provides the Cheslatta with early benefits up to a maximum of $2.3 million.
“We are working with Cheslatta to create new social and economic opportunities,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “In true partnership, we’re going to be looking at ways to address flooding issues in Cheslatta lands and seeking agreement on measures to improve their economic prospects and quality of life.”
Over the past 63 years, the Cheslatta regularly recover skeletal remains of their ancestors on the lakeshore and estimate that more than 60 Cheslatta graves have been destroyed.
B.C.-Cheslatta Framework Agreement: http://ow.ly/E3zB3044B1Q
A backgrounder follows.