Saturday, July 28, 2007

Update on the Tsawwassen and Semiahmoo First Nations Treaty Process

Yesterday, I posted on the how the B.C. courts are pitting two indigenous Canadian First Nation peoples against each other. Well, one of the bands signed the treaty. So it looks like more legal action will be taking place. As the news summary below highlights, we are not only talking about land, but money, and rights and access to resources. Interesting how the other band is not discussed at all in this news story...

"B.C. Native Band Accepts First Urban Treaty," Rod Mickleburgh, The
Globe and Mail (Canada), July 26, 2007, p. A7.

After spending more than $1-billion over 15 years, British
Columbia's troubled attempts to negotiate treaties with the province's 180,000 aboriginals has its first success. Members of the small Tsawwassen First Nation voted yesterday to accept the terms of a proposed treaty that will give them millions of dollars in cash, a share of the annual Fraser River salmon catch and more than 400 hectares of Crown land north of Vancouver. The deal is significant as the province's first urban treaty and perhaps more important as the first to be reached under B.C.'s long, costly treaty process... The treaty must still be approved by the province and the federal government, but this is regarded as a mere formality. Premier Gordon Campbell, who was quick to congratulate the Tsawwassen First Nation, promised last night to introduce legislation implementing the agreement over the coming months... Many considered the vote pivotal to the future of native land claims in B.C., where, unlike other provinces, only a handful of treaties were ever signed to strip natives of their traditional territory... The proposed $120-million deal will more than double the size of the pocket reserve, adding more than 400 hectares of crown land to its existing 290 hectares... In addition, the treaty provides $16-million in cash, a guaranteed share of the Fraser River salmon run, and $36.6 million in funding for various other programs. In return for defined treaty rights, the Tsawwassen First Nation agrees to abandon further land claims, while members will eventually lose their tax-free status, a big concession to many on the reserve..."

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