Resource rush ‘leaves treaties behind’

Commissioners say oil and gas development in north have pushed complex discussions to the back burner

Sophie Pierre

VICTORIA – The B.C. Treaty Commission issued its 21st annual report Tuesday, with a plea for federal and provincial governments not to abandon province-wide progress in a rush for resource development in the north.

While noting progress on several new treaties, chief commissioner Sophie Pierre said she is frustrated that the federal government has dragged its feet with studies, while the B.C. government has shifted focus to interim resource agreements as it pushes mining and gas development development in the north. Pierre warned that the rest of the province is being ignored, while First Nations have piled up debt for treaty talks that show little progress.

“There’s no need for more studies,” Pierre said. “Let’s just get it done.”

Asked if the independent treaty commission has outlived its usefulness, commissioner Dave Haggard was more blunt. Abandoning treaties means going back to court, and the Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that Canada and B.C. must negotiate settlements for aboriginal rights and title, he said.

He said he is dismayed by the rush for oil and gas development across the north.

“Go through Terrace and Prince Rupert and Smithers and see what the oil companies are doing up there today,” Haggard said. “It’s almost laughable when you see what they’re trying to do, the first one through the door so they can buy off another Indian.

“That’s not how it’s going to happen with First Nations in that part of the world. They’re going to sit down at the table and have a fair and just set of negotiations for occupying and use of the land and the resources that are there.”

Pierre said she supports resource sharing agreements for mines and forests, but they still leave communities under the control of the Indian Act. She singled out the long federal delay in deciding how salmon resources should be shared.

“How can you go seven years without a mandate on fish?” Pierre said. “For coastal First Nations, fish is like air.”

The Yale First Nation in the Fraser Canyon had its treaty approved by the House of Commons this spring, joining the Tsawwassen First Nation in the Lower Mainland and the Maa-Nulth First Nations on Vancouver Island with full self-government. The Tla’amin First Nation near Powell River has had its treaty ratified provincially.

Community votes on final agreements are near for In-SHUCK-ch communities at Harrison Lake, K’omoks on Vancouver Island, and the Tsimshian communities of Kitselas and Kitsumkalum on the North Coast.

Agreements in principle are nearing completion for Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations near Port Renfrew, the Homalco on Bute Inlet, and the Katzie in the Lower Mainland.

Also making progress on final agreements for land and cash are the Namgis Nation on northern Vancouver Island, Nazko First Nation near Quesnel, Northern Shuswap Tribal Council around Williams Lake, Te’Mexw Treaty Association on southern Vancouver Island and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations near Tofino.

The full report and a webcast of Pierre’s presentation are available here.

 

Just Posted

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Cullen demands action on Ecstall River

Failing to penalize parties involved undermines all salmon conservation efforts, MP says

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. residential school survivor’s indomitable human spirit centre of school play

Terrace theatre company plans to revive Nisga’a leader Larry Guno’s Bunk #7 next year

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read