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LHEIDLI T’ENNEH RESPONSE TO CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA LAND AND CASH OFFER

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  • Don Bain
    LHEIDLI T’ENNEH TREATY NEGOTIATIONS LHEIDLI T’ENNEH RESPONSE TO CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA LAND AND CASH OFFER August 2, 2000 CHIEF BARRY SEYMOUR
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2000
      LHEIDLI T’ENNEH TREATY NEGOTIATIONS

      LHEIDLI T’ENNEH RESPONSE
      TO CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA LAND AND CASH OFFER
      August 2, 2000

      CHIEF BARRY SEYMOUR presenting


      WITHOUT PREJUDICE

      INTRODUCTION:

      This is Lheidli T’enneh’s preliminary response to the Land and Cash
      Offer presented openly to the public today.

      To begin, Lheidli T’enneh sincerely acknowledges the commitment and
      effort Canada and British Columbia have shown in tabling their proposal
      at this time. We appreciate the difficult procedures that must be
      complied with and take this proposal to be a serious demonstration of
      commitment to the process.

      Lheidli T’enneh entered the BC Treaty process in 1993 after being
      refused entry to the Comprehensive Claims process in 1982. Our interests
      have been made clear form the outset:

      First, we wish to reconcile our aboriginal rights, title and difficult
      history within the contemporary Canadian reality through a negotiation
      process. This is the approach the Courts have encouraged and reflects
      our assessment of the best way to move forward. To this end, we are
      negotiating pragmatically and in good faith.

      Second, we wish to realize a quality of life that ensures the
      sustainability of our community in perpetuity. To achieve this, we
      believe it is essential to achieve three goals:

      1. To secure the means to achieve a standard of living comparable to the
      general local community;
      2. To create and maintain a sustainable environment that supports a
      sustainable economy; and
      3. To protect, preserve and enhance our cultural heritage, language and
      traditions.

      We approach this Offer from these perspectives in the interests of
      advancing the negotiation process to its next stage.

      ELEMENTS OF THE OFFER

      Land

      With respect to land, we have taken under advisement the parcels offered
      and have performed a preliminary value analysis. It will come as no
      surprise that we find the quantity and quality of the land offered to be
      inadequate. Specifically:

      1. Had we entered into treaty 100 years ago, we would have been entitled
      to approximately 14,000 ha of land, all of which would have been
      reserved for our use and benefit. While we appreciate that history has
      moved forward, and that processes differ, we are struck by the obvious
      disparities with other First Nations in Canada and the local area.

      2. We were lead to believe this offer would be “beefed up”. However,
      the party’s vision of land quantum appears not to have advanced since
      our earliest pre-Delgamuukw discussions.

      3. We have commissioned a professional sustainability analysis of our
      needs. We know that we require the equivalent of 280,000 ha of
      productive forest land to sustain our existing community at a per capita
      income level comparable to the Prince George average within 20 years.
      The proposed treaty package comes nowhere near meeting this basic
      requirement.

      4. We have serious difficulty with the prospect of surrendering existing
      reserve lands. As the Offer recognizes, Lheidli T’enneh is one of only
      fourteen First Nations in Canada who are party to the Framework
      Agreement on First Nations Land Management. Canada implemented this
      agreement only thirteen months ago through the First Nations Land
      Management Act. It is very much in our interest to sustain this regime.
      We remain to be convinced it is necessarily inconsistent with a modern
      treaty.

      5. By our calculations, the Agriculture Land Reserve would apply to 74%
      of the land offered. If applied to our existing reserve lands, that
      figure would approach 80%. In view of the minimal amount of land being
      contemplated, we see application of the ALR on this scale as an
      impossible limitation on our future economic growth.

      Throughout these negotiations, Lheidli T’enneh has advanced a spectrum
      of land interests involving existing Reserves, Treaty Settlement Lands,
      Parks and Protected Areas, special management areas and Crown lands.
      This regime would recognize the need of all Parties for certainty in
      respect of these lands while maintaining a viable Lheidli T’enneh
      presence on the lands we have occupied since time immemorial.

      We are prepared to build upon today’s Offer to establish a realistic
      future for our people, but suggest that ownership of 0.0004828432 % of
      our territory fails to meet anyone’s real interests.

      Capital Transfer

      Throughout these negotiations, we have expressed our primary interest in
      favoring a sustainable land base in the land-cash balance. This said,
      while we recognize that the amount of capital proposed is part of the
      total treaty package, the offer falls well below our requirements.

      By way of illustration, we invite you to compare the amount of this
      Offer to BC’s bailout of over $300 million in Skeena Cellulose’ attempt
      to protect a workforce roughly equal to our total Band population.

      Opportunities

      We have been concerned from the outset about the limited role the
      Parties see for our participation in the local economy. This section of
      the offer emphasizes this lack of vision.

      Throughout our negotiations, we have taken into consideration the
      interests of the other communities within Lheidli T’enneh territories.
      Despite the misinformation and fear mongering advanced by some colonial
      interests in this area, we believe this treaty has the potential to be
      of significant economic advantage for the entire area. The offer as
      presented would deprive the Prince George region of these opportunities
      and perpetuates our dependent status.

      For example:

      1. We fail to see the usefulness of an Economic Development Study. We
      already participate to some extent in the local economy and have a very
      clear understanding of what could be possible. We have identified and
      acted on creative opportunities in the past, and are continuing to do so
      today. What we lack is the means to access land, resources and capital
      to achieve our development goals. The treaty must provide opportunity,
      not studies.

      2. As for the proposed wood lot we see little potential for a viable
      operation anywhere adjacent to the offered land parcels. As well, our
      aspirations for economic sustainability vastly exceed this sort of
      tenure. We have assessed the timber potential of the full land area
      offered, and find less than one million dollars worth of merchantable
      fiber and no possibility for a sustainable forestry operation. One
      preferred alternative would be to access the meaningful volume of fiber
      currently available, without disruption, in our territories.

      3. We would be most interested in knowing the mineral values the
      no-staking reserve is intended to protect. Neither we nor the Crown nor
      industry is aware of any mineral potential whatsoever in the offered
      areas.

      We are prepared to discuss meaningful economic opportunities with the
      Parties, but reserve the right to make more realistic proposals for the
      initial $125,000 put forward and to take a more business-like approach
      to these issues.

      AREAS OF UNDERSTANDING

      We acknowledge that this section of the Offer substantially reflects
      negotiations to date. This very important step provides some basis and
      impetus for concluding the negotiation of an Agreement-in-Principle.
      However, we continue to have serious concerns about the lack of an
      interest-based approach to negotiating certain aspects of these issues.

      OTHER AREAS FOR NEGOTIATION

      The Parties have quite thoroughly captured the series of complex issues
      that remain to be negotiated. We continue to take very seriously the
      unwillingness of Canada and British Columbia to provide their
      negotiators with mandates that reflect the Rule of Law and our common
      interests. For example:

      1. The proposed scope and area of our involvement off-Treaty Settlement
      Land still smacks of a “bigger reserve” approach to treaty making. We
      continue to take the position that our rights exist throughout our
      territories and need only be reconciled, rather than narrowed to the
      point of extinguishment.

      2. With respect to consultation, we will continue to argue that the
      approach should reflect the Rule of Law and the common benefit to be
      achieved from an effective means of talking to each. The existing
      proposal does not completely achieve this potential.

      3. Wildlife negotiations are critical. Our right to hunt throughout our
      territories enjoys the same fundamental significance in our nation as
      the concept of fee simple land enjoys in mainstream society. Our people
      will not ratify a treaty that would extinguish a central part of who we
      are. We are willing to negotiate measures to accommodate our mutual
      interests through truly meaningful involvement in management processes,
      but remain extremely skeptical about the ability of provincial agencies
      to implement any agreement we might reach.

      4. Water has also been an extremely difficult issue. We cannot accept a
      “bigger reserve” approach to the ability to access, use and protect this
      precious resource. We fail to see that broad provincial interests are
      threatened by our ability to make full beneficial use of this resource.

      5. In Fisheries, Lheidli T’enneh is currently analyzing Canada’s
      proposed approach in this and other forums. We will include this
      proposal in our analysis and respond to the parties in September as
      scheduled. We are pleased to see that no reference is made in the Offer
      to the unacceptable prospect of licensing the treaty right. Beyond that,
      we simply reaffirm our interest in preserving the aboriginal right to
      fish, to realizing some economic benefit from the resource and to truly
      meaningful participation in regional fisheries management.

      6. With respect to Governance, we acknowledge that there is much work to
      do. We believe the BC Supreme Court decision in the recent Gordon
      Campbell litigation vindicates our collective approach and will
      facilitate these negotiations. We acknowledge the other parties for this
      rare instance when all three parties were on the same side of an issue.
      We could go far if we took that approach more often.

      We are also encouraged to note that reference to the “Small First
      Nation” issue appears as an implementation issue rather than a content
      of rights issue.

      7. In intergovernmental matters, we strongly reaffirm our commitment to
      a “good neighbor” policy with respect to local governments in this area.
      We look forward to engaging substantive negotiations on this topic in
      the near future.

      8. Fiscal Relations will offer substantial challenges to ensure that
      adequate finances will be available to achieve our objectives and to
      close the gap that has been created between our community and Canadians
      at large. These negotiations will have to realistically address our
      actual population at the time of treaty implementation, and we will be
      alert to any efforts to off-load obligations without corresponding
      funding commitments. We categorically reject the concept of Own Source
      Revenue in the context of any formal OSR agreement.

      9. In General Provisions we readily accept the proposition that the
      Canadian Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
      applies to all Canadians. We are here to negotiate ourselves into a
      mature relationship with Canada and the province, not to perpetuate
      colonial enclaves.

      10. As for the Certainty, we recognize the complex challenge this
      presents. We acknowledge some progress at the principal’s level and
      continue to require achievement of mutual objectives without our being
      extinguished as a people with a unique place in confederation.

      CONCLUSION

      We thank the Parties again for their efforts and the work that has been
      done to achieve common ground to date.

      We must remind the Parties of Canada’s international commitment in
      Agenda 21 to “recognizing and strengthening the role of indigenous
      people and their communities.” As expected, this Offer does not provide
      for the economic, environmental and social sustainability of Lheidli
      T’enneh. We hope that it does not have a negative impact on the BC
      Treaty Process or the commitment of those affected by the process.

      We continue to believe we can make a contribution to the common good
      while meeting our obligations to our history and future generations.
      Consistent with the pragmatic approach we have taken in these
      negotiations, we believe the Parties can deal expeditiously and
      creatively with the outstanding issues. But there is substantial work
      remaining to be done and time grows short.

      Let’s get on with some serious negotiations.

      LHEIDLI T'ENNEH NATION
      1041 Whenun Road
      Prince George, B.C.
      V2K 5G5
      (250) 963-8451 phone
      (250) 963-6954 fax



      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


      TREATY NEGOTIATIONS INFORMATION BULLETIN
      Canada and B.C. Present Joint Land and Cash Offer to Lheidli T'enneh
      Band
      August 2, 2000
      http://www.aaf.gov.bc.ca/news-releases/2000/000802-lheitliten-ib.stm

      The governments of Canada and British Columbia presented an offer today
      to the Lheidli T'enneh Band that includes land, resources, cash,
      governance and other elements of a future agreement-in-principle. The
      offer includes $7.5 million and 2,903 hectares of land.

      This joint offer is another step toward concluding an
      agreement-in-principle with the Lheidli T'enneh. The offer summarizes
      the areas of agreement reached by the parties to date, sets out the
      views of Canada and B.C. on the issues that still need to be resolved
      and proposes new opportunities being made available to Lheidli T'enneh.

      Negotiations with the Lheidli T'enneh Band are the seventh in the
      province to have reached this substantive step toward an
      agreement-in-principle under the British Columbia Treaty Commission
      process.

      Elements of the Offer

      Canada and B.C.'s offer to Lheidli T'enneh includes:

      Land: Eleven parcels of provincial Crown land (1,978 hectares), and
      three existing Indian Reserves (totalling 684.5 hectares) would be held
      as Lheidli T'enneh treaty settlement lands. The offer also includes a
      federally owned, 240-hectare former agricultural research station.
      Further negotiation will determine whether or not the Lheidli T'enneh
      will hold this land as treaty settlement land. It is the view of Canada
      and British Columbia that the one-hectare Fort George Cemetery Indian
      Reserve #1A would not remain a reserve and would not be designated as
      treaty settlement land, but that the Lheidli T'enneh would hold this
      land in fee simple. Both the federal land and Indian Reserve #1A are
      located within the municipal boundaries of the City of Prince George.

      Access to all private property, including lands located between the
      Fraser or Nechako Rivers and treaty settlement land, would continue.
      Public roads are excluded from the land being offered to Lheidli T'enneh
      and the offer does not include submerged lands. Appropriate provisions
      would be negotiated to protect access corridors and existing legal
      interests such as rights-of-way and tenures on proposed treaty
      settlement lands.

      Cash: $7.5 million would be transferred over a period of time to be
      negotiated.

      Governance: The Indian Act would no longer apply. Lheidli T'enneh
      governance would be exercised within the framework of the Canadian
      Constitution, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply.
      Lheidli T'enneh would have the ability to make laws pertaining to
      matters internal to their community and integral to their culture and
      identity. Canada and British Columbia propose that non-Lheidli T'enneh
      people living on treaty settlement lands would have opportunities for
      involvement and input in Lheidli T'enneh government decisions affecting
      them.

      Forest resources: Lheidli T'enneh would own and manage forest resources
      on treaty settlement land. Standards for forest practices that apply on
      Crown land would apply on treaty settlement lands.

      B.C. proposes to issue a woodlot licence to Lheidli T'enneh at final
      agreement to provide the First Nation with a revenue source and training
      and development opportunities. The size and location of the woodlot will
      be negotiated prior to final agreement.

      Subsurface resources: Lheidli T'enneh would own all subsurface and
      mineral resources located on or under treaty settlement lands. Federal
      and provincial laws would apply. B.C. has issued a no-staking reserve to
      be in place for the duration of the offer on all proposed treaty
      settlement lands to provide protection from any new mineral claims
      staking.

      Wildlife harvest: Lheidli T'enneh would have the right to harvest
      wildlife for food, social and ceremonial purposes in an area to be
      negotiated. The harvest would be subject to measures for conservation,
      public health or public safety. Lheidli T'enneh would harvest wildlife
      based on annual harvest management plans in accordance with the final
      agreement.

      Fisheries: Lheidli T'enneh would have the right to harvest fish for
      food, social and ceremonial purposes, in an area to be negotiated,
      subject to measures for conservation, public health or public safety.
      The harvest level for sockeye salmon would be abundance based and
      described as a percentage of the Canadian Total Allowable Catch. Using
      catch data from 1982 to 1997, a formula would be negotiated to determine
      an annual average harvest of 6,000 sockeye. Based on catch data from
      1984 to 1999, a formula would be negotiated to determine an annual
      average harvest of 500 chinook.

      Canada also proposes that a harvest agreement outside of the treaty
      would provide Lheidli T'enneh with a fishery which would provide for an
      average annual harvest of 5,000 sockeye. This economic opportunity would
      only occur subject to specific conditions being met.

      Water: The final agreement would provide a water reservation to meet the
      water requirements associated with the community and economic
      development on the treaty settlement lands.

      Certainty: Canada and British Columbia will require certainty in
      relation to all Lheidli T'enneh's rights that are recognized and
      affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Prior to
      concluding the final agreement, the parties will agree on the precise
      legal technique for achieving certainty. Canada and British Columbia's
      proposed approach is that any existing Lheidli T'enneh aboriginal rights
      would continue to exist, although as modified to have the attributes and
      geographic extent as set out in the final agreement. Any aboriginal and
      treaty rights not contemplated by the final agreement would be released.

      Taxation: Indian Act tax exemptions would be phased out over an
      agreed-upon time period. The treaty would include the ability of Lheidli
      T'enneh to levy taxes on its citizens on treaty settlement lands.
      Outside of the treaty, Canada and B.C., together or separately, may
      provide to Lheidli T'enneh specific taxation authorities.

      Access: Lheidli T'enneh will ensure reasonable public access onto and
      across treaty settlement lands. The Lheidli T'enneh government can
      regulate access by creating laws in areas such as public safety and the
      prevention of nuisance or damage. Access to and across treaty settlement
      lands for non-commercial and recreational purposes - including access
      for public hunting and fishing and to existing tenures and private
      properties - would be assured. Access for carrying out government
      programs and emergency response will be negotiated.

      Planning and advisory processes: Canada and B.C. are prepared to discuss
      options to address Lheidli T'enneh's role off treaty settlement lands
      related to fish, wildlife and water.

      Treaty-related measure: To assist Lheidli T'enneh in assessing the
      offer, Canada and B.C. have proposed a treaty-related measure which
      would provide funding to the Lheidli T'enneh to undertake a study on the
      economic development potential of proposed treaty settlement lands.

      Lheidli T'enneh

      The Lheidli T'enneh Band, formerly known as the Fort George Indian Band,
      is a member of the Carrier language group. Located east of Prince
      George, the Lheidli T'enneh live primarily in two communities on the
      Fort George (Shelley) Indian Reserve No. 2, referred to as North and
      South Shelley. The band has four reserves totalling 685.6 hectares, with
      a total population of 273 as of May 2000.

      Local Input to the Negotiations

      Consultation with local government, community groups, business sectors
      and other third party interests has been ongoing and will continue
      throughout the negotiation process. There have been more than 40
      meetings of the Northern Interior Regional Advisory Committee, (NIRAC),
      20 meetings with the Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee and 25
      meetings with other interested parties since the start of negotiations
      with the Lheidli T'enneh. To date, 11 draft chapters have been
      substantially completed and distributed to the public for consultation.

      The Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee is consulted on local
      government issues, and a committee representative participates as a
      member of the provincial team for the Lheidli T'enneh negotiations. The
      Northern Interior Regional Advisory Committee NIRAC provides advice to
      the federal and provincial negotiators specific to the Lheidli T'enneh
      and other Prince George-area negotiations. Committee membership
      represents diverse interests including forestry, business, labour,
      education, wildlife, environmental and community groups. Representatives
      of the committee provided their views to Canada, B.C. and Lheidli
      T'enneh at negotiation sessions on access and fish. Negotiators have
      consulted with individuals involved in the forestry and utilities
      sectors. Negotiators from Canada and B.C. have also made presentations
      to the Community Treaty Council, which represents Lheidli T'enneh band
      members.

      Main table negotiations are open to the public and are advertised in
      local newspapers. Since 1994, 12 public information meetings have been
      held, and more are planned as negotiations proceed.

      Next Steps

      This offer is subject to successful resolution of all issues at the
      negotiating table. Canada and B.C. anticipate continuing negotiations
      toward a goal of reaching an agreement-in-principle by the end of 2000.

      Once an agreement-in-principle is reached, it will form the basis for
      negotiating a final agreement. The final agreement must be ratified by
      the Lheidli T'enneh membership, the British Columbia Legislative
      Assembly and the Parliament of Canada.

      - 30 -

      CHRONOLOGY AND MAP ATTACHED

      This information bulletin and the offer are available on the Internet
      at:

      Canada: http://www.inac.gc.ca
      B.C.: http://www.aaf.gov.bc.ca

      Aussi disponible en français.

      For more information:

      Seanna McConnell Federal Treaty Negotiation Office Ministry of
      Aboriginal Affairs; Tel: (604) 775-7016 Toll free: (800) 665-9320

      Lise Johnson Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Federal Treaty
      Negotiation Office Tel: (250) 387-1959 Toll free: (800) 880-1022
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