Commonly Asked Questions on Treaty
Why are we negotiating with British Columbia and not just Canada?
The Canadian Constitution divides up the powers of governments and Canada does not have jurisdiction over lands and resources in any province and they cannot over-ride provincial authority. If we negotiated just with Canada, it would mean that we would still have to negotiate with British Columbia after. Alternatively, Canada would negotiate with BC on our behalf.
Why don’t we just take BC or Canada to court?
We could do that, for specific areas of land, for specific grievances, but it would be more expensive than treaty negotiations and a judge would decide. We might get some money, and maybe some land, but then we would still need to negotiate over the management and authority and the rest of the territory would still be in question.
What will the legal status of our Treaty be, under the current process?
A Final Treaty will be protected under the Canadian Constitution. All three parties must agree on any amendments.
How do our negotiations compare with other First Nations in British Columbia?
• Since 1993 42 First Nations have entered into AIP negotiations (Stage 4 of 6 stages)
• Sliammon is now in Stage 5 and negotiation their Final Agreement
• The Nisga’a negotiations took 20 years to reach an AIP and another 3 years to reach a Final Agreement. The Yukon First Nations also took about 20 years. (The pace of these negotiations increased considerably once the provincial or territorial governments became involved.)
• In the last 18 months, (province-wide) 60 Interim Measures agreements have been signed, on forestry, fish, land use planning and economic development
• We are just over halfway through our Agreement in Principle (AIP) negotiations (after 6 years of negotiation)
• We have completed 2 Interim Measures in the last year, in Forest Management and Tenure and Economic Development
What happens if we withdraw from the BC Treaty Process?
If one band withdraws, they will owe the 25% they have borrowed. (In the case of Williams Lake Band this would equal approximately 1.5 million dollars.) As things stand now we are negotiating to have these loan dollars converted to grant dollars. If we opt out of the treaty process this negotiation option would be difficult to achieve.
The effects of this on the other communities involved in the negotiations are unclear. As the work to date has been joint it would definitely slow and disturb the research and negotiations of the other three bands. Currently there are shared territory agreements amongst the NStQ member bands. Withdrawing from the treaty process breaks down this regional unity and adds the complication of negotiating with each other as government(s) and other neighboring first nations.
What have we accomplished?
In stage 4 we are negotiating the agreement in principle as to our interests in lands, resources and governance. The process for this is for the three parties (Canada, BC and NStQ) to:
• Present Interests -- Involves extensive research of traditional use, current and future needs of the NStQ, restitution required, etc
• Develop Principles – Three parties agree on principle from which the negotiation will proceed. They must agree to move on
• Write a Chapter – Chapter is written based on the Interests presentation and principles to be the basis of the final agreement
For Lands and Governance there are approximately 18 topics being discussed at the Negotiation Table. Each one of these topics must go through the process outlined above. In addition we are working on many other projects that are designed to provide capacity building in the interim.