The Homalco Indian Band, located just south of Campbell River, has received an additional 826 hectares of land located on Sonora Island and Thurlow Island, just off the east coast of Vancouver Island, as part of an Incremental Treaty Agreement (ITA).
The province introduced ITAs in order to accelerate the treaty process by providing earlier treaty benefits before final agreements can be reached between bands and the government.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, “ITAs build trust among the parties, create incentives to reach further milestones and provide increased certainty over land and resources.”
“The opportunities these land transfers will create for the Homalco Indian Band through their ITA demonstrate the partnership that the provincial government and First Nations undertake on the journey towards treaty,” said Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad. “I look forward to continuing this partnership and to seeing the tourism and forestry businesses of the Homalco flourish in the future.”
The three-stage transfer of the land to Homalco is B.C.’s 16th ITA, and will begin with 352 hectares of land at Camelion Harbour, Thurston Bay and Owen Bay as soon as the ITA is signed, followed by 180 hectares of land at Hemming Bay and Crawford Anchorage once Homalco approves their Treaty-in-Principle with the government. Once the final treaty is signed, an additional 295 hectares of land at Young Passage will also be Homalco land.
Homalco Chief Richard Harry sees the ITA as key in allowing the band to “realize our vision of integrated resource management that will provide long term sustainable jobs and income to our people,” according to the government release.
The Homalco band owns and operates Homalco Forestry and Homalco Wildlife Tours, two businesses they hope can grow due to this new deal with the government.
“This is a huge step forward in our treaty process and paves the way for a successful treaty with B.C. and Canada.”