Tsawwassen First Nation supports Tla'amin First Nation's right to vote on their future

TSAWWASSEN, BC, June 22, 2012 /CNW/ - Tsawwassen First Nation today expressed its support for the Tla'amin people's right to vote on their Treaty.  The Tla'amin vote, scheduled for June 16th, was interfered with by a small group of protesters who blocked the entrance to the voting centre and forced a re-scheduling of the vote.  "This is a time of great pressure for the Tla'amin people", said Chief Kim Baird, "and no-one knows what's best for their future except the Tla'amin people themselves.  Every member of Tla'amin First Nation has the right to express their choice through a voting process.  It is disappointing that a small group have interfered with that right.  We wish the Tla'amin leadership and negotiators all the best as they seek to ensure Tla'amin members can exercise their right to vote."

The Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement (the Treaty) has been effective since 2009, following a successful ratification vote by the Tsawwassen people in 2007.  Tsawwassen First Nation was the first to ratify a Treaty under the BC Treaty Process.  Of the 218 eligible voters, 187 (86%) enrolled to vote.  Of those, 180 (96% of those enrolled) cast a ballot.  130 voters voted in favour of ratifying the Final Agreement, a margin of 72%.  "At Tsawwassen, we worked extremely hard to reach out to all eligible voters, and to ensure that every voter was informed about the choices that lay ahead.  Every party to the vote went to great lengths to protect the integrity of the decision-making process."

Chief Baird also addressed criticisms of the Tla'amin process that are being made by external organizations, and a 2009 UN report criticizing the Tsawwassen process.  "It is easier to make allegations against process and throw stones than it is to mount real arguments about substantive elements of the agreement", Chief Baird stated, "The UN report was completely uninformed; those who wrote that report did not visit TFN, gathered no objective data, and did not consult with TFN or give us any ability to respond.  We invite anyone who questions our engagement and consultation processes to pay us a visit and learn about the work we do."

Yesterday, TFN celebrated its third National Aboriginal Day under its Treaty.  The second election of its self-governing institutions takes place this fall, followed by the 6th session of the Tsawwassen Legislature.

SOURCE Tsawwassen First Nation

For further information:

Tanya Corbet, Tsawwassen First Nation
Tel: (604) 948-5205
Mobile: (604) 928-0879
Email: tcorbet@tsawwassenfirstnation.com

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