LHEIDLI TENNEH RESPONSE TO CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA LAND AND CASH OFFER
- LHEIDLI TENNEH TREATY NEGOTIATIONS
LHEIDLI TENNEH RESPONSE
TO CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA LAND AND CASH OFFER
August 2, 2000
CHIEF BARRY SEYMOUR presenting
This is Lheidli Tennehs preliminary response to the Land and Cash
Offer presented openly to the public today.
To begin, Lheidli Tenneh 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 Tenneh 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
We approach this Offer from these perspectives in the interests of
advancing the negotiation process to its next stage.
ELEMENTS OF THE OFFER
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
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 partys 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
4. We have serious difficulty with the prospect of surrendering existing
reserve lands. As the Offer recognizes, Lheidli Tenneh 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
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 Tenneh 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 Tenneh
presence on the lands we have occupied since time immemorial.
We are prepared to build upon todays Offer to establish a realistic
future for our people, but suggest that ownership of 0.0004828432 % of
our territory fails to meet anyones real interests.
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 BCs bailout of over $300 million in Skeena Cellulose attempt
to protect a workforce roughly equal to our total Band population.
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 Tenneh 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.
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,
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
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 Tenneh is currently analyzing Canadas
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
10. As for the Certainty, we recognize the complex challenge this
presents. We acknowledge some progress at the principals level and
continue to require achievement of mutual objectives without our being
extinguished as a people with a unique place in confederation.
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 Canadas 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
Tenneh. 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.
Lets get on with some serious negotiations.
LHEIDLI T'ENNEH NATION
1041 Whenun Road
Prince George, B.C.
(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
August 2, 2000
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
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
Cash: $7.5 million would be transferred over a period of time to be
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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CHRONOLOGY AND MAP ATTACHED
This information bulletin and the offer are available on the Internet
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