Garry Reece of Lax Kw'alaams First Nation presents cedar bark hat to Premier Christy Clark as Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad looks on at revenue sharing ceremony at the B.C. legislature April 9. It was the latest of a long series of B.C. resource revenue agreements

Ottawa follows B.C.’s treaty ‘stepping stones’

Incremental and resource agreements a way forward on stalled aboriginal title talks, federal government comes on board

VICTORIA – The federal government has responded to the strengthening of aboriginal title in B.C. by following the province’s lead and focusing on resource use agreements rather than full-scale treaties that have been slow and expensive to negotiate.

A shift in federal policy was announced Monday by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt, endorsing non-treaty and incremental treaty agreements such as B.C. has focused on in recent years.

Valcourt also appointed Vancouver lawyer Doug Eyford as a special advisor, to follow up on his advice to Ottawa last fall on developing West Coast oil and gas export projects.

B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad welcomed the change in federal approach, describing resource agreements as “stepping stones to reconciliation.

“We had been hoping the federal government would come to the table with things like our non-treaty agreements and our incremental approach to treaty for quite a few years,” Rustad said in an interview Tuesday. “That has been something they’ve resisted, but now they’re going to come to the table with that, and we welcome that.”

B.C. recently signed its first liquefied natural gas resource sharing agreement for facilities proposed near Prince Rupert. On July 11, B.C. reached its 150th forest resource sharing agreement with the Seabird Island Band in the Fraser Valley, and has developed similar revenue deals for mining and hydroelectric projects.

Ottawa is also promising to restart fisheries talks that have been on hold since the Cohen Commission reported in 2012 on the health of Fraser River sockeye salmon runs. The B.C. Treaty Commission has protested for years that Ottawa’s foot-dragging has contributed to the slow pace of talks, with only four treaties completed since the three-way structure was set up in 1992.

Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre has warned of over-emphasis on resource agreements, with Ottawa and B.C. focused on northern B.C. pipeline and energy projects. Rustad said there are resource projects all over the province that can benefit, adding there will be new agreements announced in the near future.

Valcourt’s announcement mirrors the main recommendations of Eyford’s report last fall. It called for “targeted efforts to build effective relationships, including refinements to Canada’s current approach to consultation and engagement, to explore mutually beneficial initiatives that support reconciliation, and to encourage aboriginal communities to resolve shared territory issues.”

Rustad said Ottawa is moving on Eyford’s recommendations, not in response to the landmark aboriginal title case decided in favour of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in June. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld Tsilhqot’in title to the Nemiah Valley west of Williams Lake, striking down provincial logging permits issued without aboriginal consent.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Hagensborg Water District purchases new fire truck; prepares for conversion to CCRD

Approximately $1.3 million of the district’s infrastructure grant has been transferred to the CCRD.

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read