We Wai Kai and B.C. sign incremental Treaty Agreement, move a step closer to treaty

The We Wai Kai Nation and the Province of British Columbia have signed an Agreement that embraces innovative approaches to modern Treaty negotiations in B.C. and creates early economic development opportunities for the Nation.

We Wai Kai Chief Brian Assu and Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, have signed an Incremental Treaty Agreement (ITA) that will return approximately 3,075 hectares (7,600 acres) of land in the Lower Campbell Lake area to the We Wai Kai Nation. This agreement will bring early economic development opportunities to the Nation and will increase the Nation’s participation in the local forest economy, ensuring long-term benefits within the community.

“We have been at the Treaty Table for a long time and we know that it is important to demonstrate that Treaties are more than just words,” Assu said in a press release. “We are building a strong presence in the forest economy and owning and managing large private land parcels is an important move forward that will benefit our citizens for generations. It is also a step toward strengthening our relationship with government, putting court challenges behind us and building a future with everyone in our Territory.”

The We Wai Kai ITA is an important step in the treaty process that delivers benefits in advance of a full Treaty.

“This agreement supports capacity building and revenue needed for We Wai Kai to become self-determining, in incremental steps, as early as possible,” said Fraser. “We’ve arrived at this place in our shared journey because we’ve built a relationship based on trust and I’m looking forward to seeing the many positive economic outcomes of this milestone.”

The ITA marks an important landmark in the Treaty process between We Wai Kai and the provincial and federal governments. It also explicitly recognizes that Aboriginal rights are inherent and cannot be extinguished or surrendered.

“This Agreement is a positive and important step in a long, complex Treaty negotiation process,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island. “It returns control of a substantial portion of Territory to We Wai Kai, which now has the ability to shape positive economic outcomes for its community, which will benefit the entire region.”

Quick Facts:

* We Wai Kai is a Nation of approximately 1,150 people in the Campbell River and Quadra Island areas.

* We Wai Kai has been in negotiations since 1997.

* In August 2019, the We Wai Kai Nation and the provincial and federal governments signed the We Wai Kai Transition to Stage 5 Negotiations Under the BC Treaty Process, which will advance reconciliation and Treaty negotiations.