The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw, the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia have reached a major milestone in B.C. treaty negotiations with the signing of an Agreement-in-Principle.
The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) is comprised of four First Nations communities in the Cariboo region.
Chief Patrick Harry, Stswecem’c-Xgat’tem First Nation; Chief Ann Louie, T’exelc First Nation; Chief Helen Henderson, Tsq’escen’ First Nation; Chief Andrea Gilbert, Xat’sūll First Nation; Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Scott Fraser, British Columbia’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, signed the treaty Agreement-in-Principle in the Canim Lake community on Sunday, July 22, 2018.
The NStQ Agreement-in-Principle lays out the elements of treaty for the four communities, including ownership of land and resources, harvesting rights, processes for transition from the Indian Act to self-government, and social services.
The signing of the NStQ Agreement-in-Principle marks the start of the final stage of negotiations of a treaty with the NStQ First Nations. This stage of negotiations will be informed by Canada’s and British Columbia’s new commitments to reconciliation and the understanding that a treaty will establish ongoing and evolving relationships between Canada, British Columbia and the NStQ communities.
A treaty will ensure the NStQ First Nations have the lands, resources and authorities that support self-government, self-determination and strong government-to-government relationships.
Canada and British Columbia are working to build meaningful government-to-government partnerships through treaties that support the development and growth of local economies for the benefit of all communities and residents. Engagement with stakeholders and the ranching community over their respective interests will continue and evolve as negotiations progress, with a goal of seeing the NStQ First Nations and all local business interests prosper.
The federal and provincial governments are committed to relationships with NStQ First Nations, and all Indigenous peoples, based on respect and recognition, and guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and case law.
Chief Helen Henderson, Tsq’escen’ First Nation (Canim Lake) –
“Our NStQ people will achieve self-governance through self-determination. This milestone, of signing our Agreement-In-Principle, is the path our members have chosen. It is through the hard work of our community members, team and leadership that we will get there.”
Chief Patrick Harry, Stswecem’c-Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek) –
“It has been a very long time that the Northern Secwepemc have been at the treaty table, waiting for justice. What we celebrate today is our own perseverance. We are hearing the right things from the ministers here today. We hope those promises make their way to our final negotiations and that we can, in the near future, see Northern Secwepemc people thriving under their own government, making decisions for themselves that will make a better, brighter future for our children's children, long into the future.”
Chief Andrea Gilbert, Xat’sūll First Nation (Soda Creek) –
“I look forward to exercising our own governance in our territory and working with the federal and provincial governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. This is an important moment in the history of our people that will bring us closer to fulfilling our goals.”
Chief Ann Louie, T’exelc First Nation (Williams Lake) –
“Today is a great day for us to finally sign the AiP. Our people have been in discussions for 25 years attempting to become self-governing and get out from under the Indian Act, which restricts and controls our lives totally. We will be moving into Stage 5, where serious negotiations will begin. We have heard from others who have achieved Final Agreement of the joy of being free of the Indian Act and making their own decisions for themselves, and the benefits they have been able to achieve for their communities and members.”
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –
“Making progress on the right to self-determination for Indigenous peoples is essential as we move forward on the journey of reconciliation. I am honoured to join British Columbia and the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw Treaty Group in signing this historic agreement and celebrating our commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“I’m proud to sign the Agreement-in-Principle and celebrate this major milestone on our path to achieving a treaty with the NStQ First Nations. We are committed to progress toward deep reconciliation and powerful government-to-government partnership with the NStQ First Nations, based on respect and recognition of rights.”
- The NStQ First Nations have more than 2,600 members, and are located in the Cariboo region of British Columbia.
- This Agreement-in-Principle includes provisions with respect to lands, finances, taxation harvesting rights, cultural resources, self-government and other matters. These provisions will be further developed through negotiations to conclude a treaty with the four NStQ First Nations.
- The NStQ has been negotiating with British Columbia and Canada since 1996. The Agreement-in-Principle was reached in December 2014.
- Members of the four communities of the NStQ voted in a referendum on the Agreement-in-Principle in February 2016, giving NStQ leadership a mandate to proceed on to final negotiations.
NStQ Agreement-in-Principle: ow.ly/j2Xk30kMUEk
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