Parliament next stop for Maa-nulth First Nations



    PORT ALBERNI, BC, April 9 /CNW/ - The signing ceremony today launches the
Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement into Parliament, the final stop on the
road to recognition and the beginning of reconciliation.
    "We believe quick passage of the Maa-nulth treaty in Parliament would be
an important signal to First Nations and all British Columbians that the
Government of Canada stands behind the commitment it made to treaty making in
BC more than 15 years ago," said Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre, who
attended the ceremony at Athletic Hall along with Commissioner Dave Haggard.
    The Treaty Commission wants every effort made to see the legislation
formalizing the treaty make its way through Parliament and the Senate at the
earliest opportunity.
    Minister Strahl has helped the cause of quick passage by signing the
Maa-nulth Final Agreement within days of the final outstanding issues being
cleared by the five First Nations. Huu-ay-aht First Nation had delayed signing
the final agreement while it was involved in a court action against the
federal government over the aboriginal right to sell fish.
    Pierre said Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl underscored
his government's commitment to treaties in celebrating with Tsawwassen First
Nation the effective date of their treaty a week earlier and in the signing
ceremony in Port Alberni today.
    "The Treaty Commission wishes to acknowledge the dedication and
commitment of the parties to reaching this agreement, the first in the BC
treaty process to be concluded with a large multi-First Nation group," said
Pierre.
    "I congratulate the Maa-nulth people for their vision and perseverance,"
said Pierre. "I know how difficult it is to maintain consensus and keep the
focus on what is best for the collective."
    Given the long struggle by these five First Nations - Huu-ay-aht,
Kyoquot/Checklesaht, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Ucluelet -- to achieve the
recognition of their rights and reconciliation with the Crown, Pierre said,
"We should all do our utmost to ensure the Maa-nulth people receive the full
benefit of the treaty as soon as humanly possible."

    About the BC Treaty Commission

    The Treaty Commission is the independent body responsible for overseeing
treaty negotiations among the governments of Canada, BC and First Nations in
BC. It has three roles: facilitation, funding, and public information and
education.

    Established in 1992, the Treaty Commission and six-stage treaty process
are designed to advance treaty negotiations. The Treaty Commission comprises a
provincial appointee, a federal appointee, two First Nations Summit appointees
and a chief commissioner chosen by agreement of all three parties. For more
information about the BC Treaty Commission, please visit bctreaty.net.





For further information:

For further information: Brian Mitchell, Communications Manager, (604)
482-9215 or cellular (604) 788-5190, Brian_Mitchell@bctreatycommission.bc.ca

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BRITISH COLUMBIA TREATY COMMISSION

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