The Campbell River-based Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have signed a new agreement with the governments of Canada and British Columbia that will advance reconciliation and treaty negotiations to the fifth of six treaty negotiation stages.
Chief Chris Roberts, Wei Wai Kum First Nation; Chief Steven Dick, Kwiakah First Nation; Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; signed the Wei Wai Kum First Nation/Kwiakah First Nation Transition to Stage 5 and Treaty Revitalization Agreement.
“Today marks an important milestone on the path of reconciliation with the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah,” Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation said in a press release. “Our government is committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous partners through treaties, and other agreements, which are based on lasting government-to-government relationships and recognition of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples. This new approach to treaty making will create agreements that can evolve over time and respect the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The agreement advances treaty negotiations to the final stage and guides the development of an approach that recognizes the rights of Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations.
This new strategy explicitly recognizes that Aboriginal rights are inherent and will not be extinguished or surrendered. It seeks to build a collaborative government-to-government relationship that is flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances over time.
“It has been a long journey to reach the milestone of Stage 5 of the B.C. treaty process, and is the result of hard work by all involved,” Wei Wai Kum First Nation Chief Chris Roberts, said. “We appreciate the commitment the governments of Canada and B.C. have made to recognize Wei Wai Kum Nation’s rights as defined under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as we continue on this path to achieving true reconciliation and management over our traditional territory.”
Under this approach to treaty-making, key elements such as self-government, land ownership and stewardship, and law-making authorities will be written into a constitutionally-protected core treaty. Administrative and policy matters may be addressed through supplementary agreements that can be more easily amended, allowing for the government-to-government relationship to evolve as laws, policies and interests change. This approach makes room for a treaty relationship that is flexible and able to adapt over time.
“Kwiakah First Nation is pleased to be able to take this important step in the treaty process,” Chief Steven Dick, Kwiakah First Nation, said. “In the spirit of reconciliation, we look forward to working with both the federal and provincial governments to achieve a treaty that will respect the rights and title of Kwiakah Citizens.”
Working as partners and developing new innovative approaches to government-to-government agreements is key to achieving reconciliation and supporting healthy and prosperous Indigenous communities in Canada.
“Working collaboratively with the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations to develop new approaches to advance treaty negotiations is key to reconciliation and supporting their vision of self-determination. This agreement demonstrates that the Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with First Nations through the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership,” said Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
Stage 5 of the treaty process is labelled “Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty” and comes after Stage 4 which completes an agreement in principle. In Stage 5, the treaty formalizes the new relationship among the parties and embodies the agreements reached in the agreement in principle. Technical and legal issues are resolved at this stage. A treaty is a unique constitutional instrument to be signed and formally ratified at the conclusion of Stage 5. Stage 6 sees the implementation of the treaty.
Wei Wai Kum First Nation/Kwiakah First Nation Transition to Stage 5 and Treaty Revitalization Agreement: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/consulting-with-first-nations/first-nations-negotiations/first-nations-a-z-listing/we-wai-kum-nation-campbell-river-indian-band
Wei Wai Kum First Nation: https://weiwaikum.ca/
Kwiakah First Nation: http://www.kwiakah.com/
BC Treaty Commission: http://www.bctreaty.ca/