A new reconciliation agreement between the Sts’ailes and British Columbia will support Sts’ailes’ social, cultural, economic and environmental goals, and increase prosperity for people in the lower Fraser Valley.
Sts’ailes Chief Ralph Leon shared in the Halq’emeylem language, “Ey swayel mekw’wat. Ey swayel tl’ó wáyél. Letstemot iyém te tset tl’ó wáyél. Ch’íthométsel mekw’wat te ey te syó:ys. Good day everyone. Today is a good day. Today we are strong and united. And I would like to thank everyone for the good work.”
The agreement outlines an incremental, step-by-step approach to implementation. In addition to the transfer of a 167-hectare parcel of Crown land along the Chehalis River, the agreement will support reconciliation with the Sts’ailes by providing $4.35 million over five years to support Sts’ailes in self-governance, restorative justice, economic initiatives and improved natural resource decision-making.
“Sts’ailes and the Province have a long history of partnership and I congratulate the entire Sts’ailes community for taking this next step in our journey together,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “This new agreement strengthens our relationship, supports Sts’ailes’ goals and vision for their territory and strengthens their participation in the regional economy.”
The reconciliation agreement includes supporting the Sts’ailes with:
- exploring and establishing new economic opportunities in tourism and recreation;
- building a Sts’ailes Guardian environmental stewardship program;
- promoting land stewardship through a plant inventory and studies to support future land-use planning; and
- developing social initiatives such as restorative justice.
In addition to this agreement, the Ministry of Health is providing $2.5 million to Sts’ailes to purchase land for a Sts’ailes-led primary health-care centre.
“Our government is committed to reconciliation, and part of that is ensuring access to culturally safe care,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We are pleased to be building on this agreement between the Sts’ailes and British Columbia with additional funding to support health-care services that advance cultural values and a traditional wellness approach to health.”
Sts’ailes has strong business relationships with local industry, including forestry, and manages several recreation sites along Harrison Lake. The new agreement will be beneficial to the entire region by enhancing public recreation infrastructure and creating new economic and business opportunities.
“This agreement serves as another step in our journey to nation rebuilding and relationship-building with government, industry and our neighbours,” said Sts’ailes Chief Leon. “Today, we celebrate this important achievement and set our intentions for future generations. We would like to acknowledge the work that took place to reach this point in our shared history. We have a long way to go, and we look forward to continued progress.”
The new agreement builds on successful agreements signed in 2011 (memorandum of understanding) and 2018 (letter of commitment) and represents a renewed and collaborative approach toward long-term reconciliation. The trust developed over time and a shared interest in building relationships has allowed the Sts’ailes and Province to negotiate a significant and complicated agreement – without resorting to the courts.
Government-to-government agreements like this one are important for B.C.’s economy and essential to supporting healthy and prosperous communities. Together, First Nations and B.C. are creating innovative agreements that are flexible and better suited to addressing the needs of individual Nations.
“Our government is absolutely committed to advancing reconciliation in B.C. – guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, B.C.'s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and with meaningful consultation and co-operation with Nations such as Sts’ailes,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent. “I know first-hand the good work that the Province and Sts’ailes have accomplished together in the past and I’m excited for the future as we implement this new agreement.”
- Sts’ailes [pronounced Sh-Hay-Lis] territory is in the lower Fraser Valley approximately 100 kilometres east of Vancouver and includes the Chehalis River watershed and Harrison Lake.
- The name "Sts’ailes" is derived from the Halq’eméylem word "Sts’a’íles," which means “the beating heart.”
See the agreements between B.C. and Sts’ailes here:
Sts’ailes website: www.stsailes.com/