British Columbia Treaty Process


British Columbia Treaty Process

The British Columbia Treaty Process (BCTP) is a land claims negotiation process started in 1993 for outstanding issues with British Columbia's First Nations.

Currently, three treaties have been negotiated under the current process. The Nisga'a Treaty is considered separate from the Treaty Process because it was negotiated outside the process, but has been called a blueprint for the current process. To represent the interests of First Nations involved with the process, the First Nations Summit was created. There are officially 58 First Nations in the process, but only 20 are said to be making progress. This brings about 40% not involved in the treaty process at all.

History

Previous negotiations

Because the Royal Proclamation of 1763 stated that the crown must negotiate and sign treaties with the indigenous people before land could be ceded to a colony, the Numbered Treaties were negotiated in most parts of the Prairie Provinces. The Government of the Colony of British Columbia, however, failed to negotiate many treaties and as a result, most of the province's land is not covered by treaties. The few exceptions are the 14 Douglas Treaties on Vancouver Island, Treaty 8 (1899) in the North East of B.C., and the 2001 Nisga'a Final Agreement.

Relations between Indigenous peoples and the B.C. government worsen over time, as the McKenna-McBride Commission led to the redistribution of reserve lands and the Allied Tribes of British Columbia was essentially dissolved by an amendment to the Indian Act. In the second half of the 20th century, demands for the recognition of aboriginal title were buoyed by various court decisions in B.C., including Calder v. British Columbia (Attorney General) and R. v. Sparrow.

In 1990, the governments of Canada, B.C. and First Nations established the B.C. Claims Task Force investigate how treaty negotiations might begin and what they should cover. The following year, the provincial government accepted the concept of aboriginal rights (including the inherent right to self-government) as official policy. The Claims Task Force made 19 recommendations and suggested a six-stage process for negotiating new treaties.

The Treaty Commission and Process

B.C. Treaty Commissioners were first appointed in April 1993, and the treaty process officially began in December 1993. By 1996, 47 First Nations, representing more than 70% of Status Indians in B.C., had decided to participate. After a few years of negotiations, the Treaty Commission released a 1997 Systems Overload Report which argued that the provincial and federal governments needed to increase the financial resources and capacity level of First Nations for the negotiation of treaties in BC.

The following year, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, recognizing aboriginal title as "a right to the land itself", which derives from First Nations original occupation and possession at the time the Crown asserted sovereignty. The court also stated that the federal and provincial governments may infringe upon Aboriginal title under conditions for justification but that fair compensation would be due at the time of such an infringement.

The first nation to reach stage 5 of the process was Sechelt First Nation, who signed an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) in 1999. Members of the Sliammon First Nation voted to reject their negotiated AIP in 2001, and six of twelve member nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council likewise rejected their AIP.

In 2002, the BC Liberal Party mailed out ballots for a provincial referendum on principles for treaty negotiations, sparking protests and a boycott.

As of January 2008, one billion of dollars have been spent on the negotiation process, with $300 million being borrowed by First Nations.Fact|date=February 2008 One successfully negotiated treaty was rejected, by the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, in 2007.

In 2007, the Tsawwassen First Nation voted against ratifying their negotiated treaty, but by July, the treaty was altered and members supported ratification. The treaty more than doubles the size of the Tsawwassen reserve, offers a cash settlement of $16 million and $36 million in program funding, and reserves a portion of the Fraser River salmon catch to the Tsawwassen. In return, the Tsawwassen will abandon other land claims and will eventually pay taxes

The Maa-nulth Treaty Group, a five First Nations group from the Nuu-chah-nulth, have also voted to ratify their treaty, prompting the Ditidaht First Nation to file a lawsuit in 2008, claiming title to land included in the Maa-nulth Treaty. [Rud, Jeff. "Maa-nulth deal "last straw," Ditidaht file suit". Victoria Times Colonist, January 22nd, 2008. [http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=5f05459d-fcb1-46e8-ac2d-58faafd433fc Retrieved February 3rd, 2008] ]

The Temexw Treaty Association, whose members are signatories to the Douglas Treaties, is also attempting to negotiate within the BC Treaty Process.

A November 2007 court ruling for the Xeni Gwet'in First Nation has called future participation in the process into question. The judge ruled that the Xeni Gwet'in could demonstrate aboriginal title to half of the Nemaia Valley, and that the province had no power over these lands. [http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=44bcbe05-644b-41ac-a8c2-168540b2342d Huge win for Interior natives] , The Province, November 22, 2007] Under the BC treaty process, negotiating nations have received as little as 5% of their claimed land recognized. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, has called the court victory a "nail in the coffin" of the B.C. treaty process.

Process

The treaty process is a 6-stage negotiations between the federal government, the provincial government, and First Nations. It is overseen by the British Columbia Treaty Commission.

The process:
* Stage 1: Statement of Intent to Negotiate
* Stage 2: Readiness To Negotiate
* Stage 3: Negotiation Of a Framework Agreement
* Stage 4: Negotiation Of An Agreement In Principle
* Stage 5: Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty
* Stage 6: Implementation of the Treaty

Criticisms

The voice of criticisms have come from different angles in indigenous communities across British Columbia and Canada, and from the non-native society as well.Alfred, Taiaiake. "Wasáse". Broadview Press, 2005. ISBN 978-1551116372.] About 2/3rds of First Nations are not involved with the Treaty Process, some have formed the "Unity Protocol", calling for an overhaul of the entire process.

* Extinguishment of Aboriginal title
* Continued assimilation strategies
* Changing the indigenous peoples form nations to municipal style government.

ee also

* Aboriginal land claim
* Aboriginal title
* The Canadian Crown and First Nations, Inuit and Métis

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.fns.bc.ca/ First Nations Summit]
* [http://www.bctreaty.net/ British Columbia Treaty Commission]
* [http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/ Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs] ]


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