Snuneymuxw First Nation, the Government of B.C. and Canada celebrated continued progress in their relationship with a new tripartite memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse; Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; and Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; signed the new MOU during a virtual meeting to advance meaningful reconciliation.
This MOU brings all parties together, building on the existing but independent relationships Canada and B.C. have with Snuneymuxw First Nation.
Snuneymuxw and Canada signed a Letter of Understanding in August 2019 that established a framework for advancing reconciliation and the recognition of Snuneymuxw’s rights. The parties continue to work toward the transfer of the former Camp Nanaimo property.
Snuneymuxw and B.C. signed two framework agreements in September 2020, creating a shared vision for advancing reconciliation and transferring a package of Crown land to Snuneymuxw. Both 2020 agreements build on a 2013 reconciliation agreement. All three B.C. – Snuneymuxw agreements recognized the role Canada has in furthering future negotiations and ongoing collaborative discussions.
The new, tripartite MOU is an important next step that formalizes a new negotiations table between the federal, provincial and Snuneymuxw governments, and sets out priority items for resolution, such as the implementation of the 1854 Treaty and near-term land reconciliation.
This MOU demonstrates the commitment of both levels of government toward implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its role as the framework for implementation of Indigenous rights. This demonstrates a shift toward stronger processes based on recognition of rights, respect and mutual support.
This agreement comes at a time when many Nations are dealing with myriad issues, including the ongoing impact of the residential school system and the social and cultural impacts related to development. For many, these painful legacies place a great burden on the community. Agreements such as this can create an opportunity to address the historical impacts of colonialism through the return of traditional lands and a strengthening of Indigenous-led stewardship and protection of traditional territories and marine areas.
Chief Mike Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nation –
“Getting to this day has been a long journey for our chiefs and leaders, many of whom are no longer with us to witness this day. I acknowledge them, and our Council pays respect to our Elders and all of our ancestors for what they endured, their strength and wisdom to protect our language, culture and sacred ways of life. Snuneymuxw people have survived difficult times, and we are focused on recovering our traditional territories and marine areas, and protecting them for the future.
“Snuneymuxw is encouraged by the conclusion of this agreement with Canada and British Columbia. It is historic and path-breaking in that it provides acknowledgment and a way forward to address historical issues pertaining to our traditional territories and impacts to our rights and practices. We now feel governments will be paddling the same path with us to uphold the Treaty and ensure it is implemented as intended.”
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations –
“Supporting Indigenous nations in fulfilling their vision of self-determination is critical to advancing reconciliation and transforming relationships. Congratulations and thank you to Chief Mike Wyse and the Snuneymuxw First Nation on your dedication, leadership and determination. By signing this memorandum of understanding today, we are reaching a significant milestone that advances our nation-to-nation relationship. We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities in British Columbia to move forward on their priorities and to accelerate their path to self-determination.”
Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“This memorandum of understanding is a strong example of how Snuneymuxw, Canada and the Province are working collaboratively to support reconciliation and resolve long-standing and often challenging issues. I’m excited for the future agreements that will come as we follow this path together.”
Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo –
“Snuneymuxw First Nation continues to advance relationships in our region, based on mutual respect, which I’ve been honoured to witness. Today’s memorandum of understanding will guide negotiations between B.C., Snuneymuxw and Canada going forward. This is another important step for everyone who lives on these lands.”
- The Snuneymuxw First Nation is a large Coast Salish, Hul’q’umi’num-speaking Nation with traditional territory and marine areas in the mid-Vancouver Island, Nanaimo estuary, Gulf Islands, and lower Fraser areas of British Columbia.
- Snuneymuxw First Nation leaders entered into a Treaty with Sir James Douglas in 1854, which the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized as a valid and binding Treaty between the Nation and the Crown.
- Snuneymuxw has more than 1,700 members and six reserves covering 266 hectares, and its land base is a small fraction of their traditional territories and marine areas. The Nation is pursuing a series of specific land claims, which have been accepted for negotiation or require resolution to advance meaningful reconciliation.
- Snuneymuxw traditional territory was taken for use as an Indian Hospital, and the members of the Nation continue to be impacted by residential schools and other colonial policies.
Snuneymuxw First Nation: https://www.snuneymuxw.ca/
Canada and Snuneymuxw First Nation Letter of Understanding (2019):
B.C. and Snuneymuxw agreements: