Seven Carrier Sekani First Nations are celebrating a historic partnership with the Government of British Columbia that promises to boost the economy in the entire Omineca region while increasing self-determination for the signatory First Nations.
“This historic partnership with the Carrier Sekani First Nations will help lift people up and make life better for communities throughout the Omineca region,” said Premier John Horgan. “We are taking important steps together to make sure Carrier Sekani communities and all Indigenous communities benefit from economic development and nation building into the future.”
Tribal Chief Mina Holmes, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, said, “The Pathways Forward Agreement is founded on the principles of unity, equity, capacity and economic sustainability. These principles will strengthen the existing relationship between our Nations and neighbouring communities as we are all here to stay. We are committed to continuing to improve these relationships to forge regional sustainability for our people, our land and our governance.”
Signatories from Stellat’en First Nation, Nadleh Whut’en, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation, Saik’uz First Nation, Nak’azdli Whut’en, Takla Nation and Tl’azt’en Nation joined provincial officials at the Uda Dune Baiyoh Conference Centre in Prince George to celebrate the signing of the five-year Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement.
This agreement will advance reconciliation between the Province and the seven Carrier Sekani First Nations by boosting regional economic development, developing partnerships with industry and bringing new business opportunities and jobs that will benefit everyone in the region.
The Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement provides revenue sharing and processes for collaborative decision-making to the seven Carrier Sekani First Nations in four main areas: economic development, socio-cultural programming, governance and environmental stewardship.
The agreement is the result of work between the seven Nations and the provincial government since 2014, and commits to bringing the federal government to the negotiations going forward. Priorities for continued negotiation of a long-term agreement include lands, forest tenure opportunities and implementation of rights and title.
Chief Priscilla Mueller, Saik'uz First Nation –
"The Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement is historic and marks the beginning of a positive co-operative relationship between B.C. and Carrier Sekani First Nations. The social-economic benefits to the Omineca Region will be significant, and the message to all citizens should be that if First Nations prosper, then everyone prospers. The economic certainty that will come from this co-operative relationship will pave the way toward economic prosperity for all communities in the North."
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“This agreement will help stimulate business ventures and social enterprise in the area, which will lead to regional spinoffs, more employment opportunities and certainty for everyone in the region. It also includes important supports for Carrier Sekani Nations to establish comprehensive self-government structures and processes that will be critical for moving forward as self-determining Nations.”
Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development –
“This agreement provides unprecedented forestry certainty with the largest collective of First Nations people that government has signed a reconciliation agreement with, and whose territories are in the heart of forestry in the Interior. Bringing predictability to the forest sector in this region not only benefits the Carrier Sekani Nations – it also benefits other forestry operators in the area.”
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources –
“Our government is committed to doing resource development the right way, ensuring it creates jobs and opportunities, benefits local communities and advances reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Mining and energy projects are key to growing B.C.’s economy, and this historic agreement will provide significant new investments to support economic development across the region.”
Chief Alexander McKinnon, Nak'azdli Whut'en –
“The Pathways Forward Agreement is a step in the right direction in implementing UNDRIP. It is a step forward out from the darkness of the ugly history of the relationship we had with governments. It is a step forward in giving us back our rightful spot in society as strong, vibrant, governing people of our unceded and unsurrendered lands. It is a step towards true reconciliation. The work does not stop here – the heavy lifting and hard work begins now. We will continue to work to create certainty for all governments; we will continue to work towards strong regional economic stability. This is not only a win for First Nations, it is a win for industry, B.C. and for all Canadians. This agreement, along with future agreements, will be built on respect, unity, transparency and accountability for all, keeping in mind the economy, the culture, our stewardship and our governance.”
Dolores Funk, mayor, Village of Burns Lake –
“Congratulations to the Carrier Sekani First Nations and the provincial government for the successful negotiation of this historic agreement. My hope is that this agreement builds strong, healthy relationships and partnerships that result in better communities for all.”
Gerry Thiessen, mayor, Vanderhoof –
“As we go through reconciliation, we find places that will make a significant difference. To see seven First Nations sign an agreement of this magnitude is incredible. This will build First Nations economically and will be a great step forward. We in Vanderhoof really look forward to the future of the Carrier Sekani First Nations and the region as a whole.”
Sarrah Storey, mayor, Village of Fraser Lake –
“On behalf of the Village of Fraser Lake, we want to congratulate the Carrier Sekani and the seven communities on finalizing this agreement. We are excited to see the economic, social and reconciliation opportunities that will unfold over the course of this agreement. What happens in one community impacts the next, supporting our neighbours and friends, and working together will truly add to the strength and sustainability of our region and province.”
Lyn Hall, mayor, Prince George –
“Meaningful advancement of reconciliation is always a reason for celebration. As mayor of Prince George and on behalf of council, I congratulate the Carrier Sekani First Nations and the Government of British Columbia on the signing of the Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement.”
- The seven Carrier Sekani First Nations are the Stellat'en First Nation, Nadleh Whut'en, Ts'il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band), Saik'uz First Nation, Nak'azdli Whut'en, Takla Nation and Tl'azt'en Nation.
- Their combined population is over 8,400 people. Their combined territories span approximately 69,600 square kilometres (6.96 million hectares), which is almost the size of New Brunswick, or 7.4% of B.C.
Read the Pathways 2.0 Agreement: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/consulting-with-first-nations/first-nations-negotiations/first-nations-a-z-listing/carrier-sekani-tribal-council
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council: http://www.carriersekani.ca/
A backgrounder follows.