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Fraser Canyon aboriginals reach treaty agreement

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    ... From: RUSSELL DIABO To: Undisclosed-Recipient:; Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:35 AM Subject: Fraser Canyon aboriginals reach treaty agreement Tuesday »
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2006
      ----- Original Message -----
      To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
      Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:35 AM
      Subject: Fraser Canyon aboriginals reach treaty agreement

      Tuesday » March 7 » 2006

      Fraser Canyon aboriginals reach treaty agreement

      Dirk Meissner
      Canadian Press

      Tuesday, March 07, 2006

      VICTORIA -- Fraser Canyon aboriginals moved a step closer Monday to signing a treaty with the B.C. and federal governments that would enshrine fishing rights they say they've been exercising since before explorer Simon Fraser came paddling by

      Ancestors of members of the Yale First Nation met the explorer in 1808 on his historic voyage down the treacherous river that bears his name.

      Yale members now number less than 150, but about 1,000 people lived at a riverbank village when Fraser camped nearby.

      "We call our treaty a fish treaty," Yale Chief Robert Hope said Monday.

      "Fishery is a very important part of our life. Our forefathers have fished in the same places as we fish today, and generally in the same manner."

      The agreement-in-principle includes fish allocations for the Yale people based on a percentage of the estimate allowable salmon catches.

      The treaty will include commercial fishing licences for the Yale people and the right to market their catches.

      It's the sixth agreement in principle between aboriginals and the B.C. and federal governments. Agreements in principle are the fourth step in a six-stage treaty negotiation process.

      British Columbia has yet to sign a final treaty with the almost 200 aboriginal nations involved in the land-claims negotiations that began more than 10 years ago.

      Hope said there are difficult negotiations ahead, but he's confident a final deal is months away.

      He said his people consider their traditional territory as the distance a tribal member can walk in half a day in any direction.

      The land provision of the agreement includes 1,139 hectares, of which 915 hectares are B.C. Crown land and 224 hectares are existing reserve land.

      The proposed treaty would allow the aboriginals to own and manage the forest resources on their land and grants them mining rights to 660 hectares.

      The proposal would also give the Yale First Nation $6.5 million from the federal government to help them develop business opportunities.

      Yale First Nations members would agree to pay taxes as part of a final treaty agreement.

      Hope said a difficult aspect of the coming final negotiations will be attempts by the Yale aboriginals to resolve territorial disputes with neighbouring Fraser River aboriginals.

      The proposed treaty area is located about 20 kilometres north of Hope in the Fraser Canyon along the Fraser River between Sawmill Creek and Puckat Creek.

      The community of Yale was the historic steamship site for the Cariboo gold rush of the 1850s.

      It marked the end of the line for the ships and the start of the wagon trail to the gold fields of British Columbia's Cariboo region. The river from Yale north was too rough for the ships.

      At one point in the mid 1800s, Yale was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

      Final treaty negotiations are currently underway with five other B.C. First Nations.

      They are the Yekooche, located near Fort St. James in northern B.C.; Lheidli T'enneh near Prince George; Maa-nulth, a five-nation tribal group on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Sliammon First Nation near Powell River and the Tsawwassen First Nations near Vancouver.

      Tom Christensen, the minister responsible for treaties, said he is cautiously optimistic modern treaties are within reach in British Columbia, but wouldn't make a time prediction.

      © The Canadian Press 2006

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