Five Vancouver Island First Nations, and 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.
Chief Gordon Planes, T’Sou-ke 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 Russ Chipps, Beecher Bay 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.”