VICTORIA , April 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Five Vancouver Island First Nations, the governments of B.C. and Canada reached a major reconciliation milestone in the B.C. treaty process with the signing of the Agreement-in-Principle.
Mark Strahl, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Chief Ron Sam, Songhees First Nation, Chief Russ Chipps, Beecher Bay First Nation, Chief Gordon Planes, T'Sou-ke First Nation, Chief Michael Harry, Malahat First Nation, and Chief David Bob, Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation, signed the Agreement-in-Principle.
The Te'mexw Treaty Association Agreement-in-Principle includes provisions for approximately 1,565 hectares of Crown land and transfers of approximately $142 million including a land fund for the 5 First Nations once Final Agreements are reached.
The Agreement-in-Principle contains 27 chapters covering issues including governance, taxation and lands. Processes for transition from the Indian Act to self-government are also set out in the Agreement-in-Principle.
Incremental Treaty Agreements signed in 2013 between B.C. and the five Te'mexw Member First Nations provided for the early transfer of some lands. The second stage of these agreements will provide for the transfer of more lands to some of the Te'mexw Member First Nations as soon as possible after completing the Agreement-in-Principle.
Incremental Treaty Agreements allow First Nations to enjoy economic benefits in advance of a Final Agreement.
Ultimately, treaties provide First Nations with a comprehensive set of tools for self-government and participating in the economy, which in turn provides security and certainty on the land for all Canadians.
- The five Te'mexw Member First Nations are located on southern Vancouver Island.
- A 2009 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that completing treaties with First Nations will deliver more than $10 billion in benefits to British Columbia's economy over the next 15 years.
"Signing this Agreement-in-Principle is an important milestone towards reconciliation with the Te'mexw First Nations and the start of a new relationship. Apart from creating certainty for investors, this settlement will provide the Te'mexw Member First Nations with the lands, resources and authorities they need to determine their own destiny. This in turn will lead to greater economic self-sufficiency and prosperity including growth in numbers of Aboriginal people in the workforce, and increased support for trained, skilled workers."
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
"Reconciliation of Aboriginal rights and title is a key priority for the Province. This is a powerful example of how negotiations can make meaningful progress in both urban and rural areas of Vancouver Island. Completing the Agreement-in-Principle and embarking on Final Agreement negotiations sets the stage for self-governance for the Te'mexw Member First Nations, certainty on the land base and unlocking economic opportunities that will provide benefits to the wider community."
The Honourable John Rustad,
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Province of B.C.
"Songhees is a nation committed to advancing our people and building our relationship with our neighbours and all of British Columbia and Canada. This Agreement in Principle is a welcome step forward on the path to a positive, respectful relationship."
Chief Ron Sam
Songhees First Nation
"When our negotiators - after years of hard work – initialled this agreement in principle more than six months ago I called for British Columbia and Canada to join us in the canoe and to help paddle. It brings joy to my heart to see this agreement today and to see all of us truly pulling together for a better tomorrow for all of us."
Chief Russ Chipps,
Beecher Bay (Scia'new) First Nation
"Our ancestors committed themselves to protecting our way of life and building an even better future for our people when they made the first treaties with the Crown in the 1850's. We are honouring their accomplishments as we build on the foundation that they laid by signing this agreement in principle today and continuing our work toward a modern treaty with Canada and British Columbia."
Chief Gordon Planes
T'Sou-ke First Nation
"Malahat has long waited for the Crown to truly fulfill its duties to our people and celebrate this step forward in achieving the respect and recognition that our people have long demanded. We see this agreement in principle as another building block in a true new relationship between Malahat and the people of British Columbia and Canada."
Chief Michael Harry
Malahat First Nation
"Snaw-Naw-As is pleased that we have reached this milestone. Our late Chief and Chief Negotiator Wilson Bob laboured long and hard on behalf of Snaw-Naw-As and all of the Te'mexw Nations and we stand here today in large part because of his work and the work of the others who have come before us."
Chief David Bob
Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) First Nation
SOURCE Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
For further information: Emily Hillstrom, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, 819-997-0002; Media Relations, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, 819-953-1160; Edward Hill, B.C. Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, 250-812-2671; Yvon Gesinghaus, Treaty Coordinator, Te'mexw Treaty, Temexwadmin2@shaw.ca, 250-889-9877; You can subscribe to receive our news releases and speeches via RSS feeds or e-mail. For more information or to subscribe, visit www.aandc.gc.ca/subscriptions.