Chief Bill Cranmer stands in front of a map showing the territory covered by the Nanwakolas Strategic Engagement Agreement during a signing ceremony in Victoria Monday.

‘Namgis join aboriginal land pact

$2.26 million paid into agreement as 'Namgis joins resource-sharing pact.

VICTORIA—The ‘Namgis First Nation became the latest signatory as the Province of British Columbia and the Nanwakolas Council renewed a resource-sharing agreement covering 4.5 million hectares of Northern Vancouver Island and the adjacent coast.

Chief Bill Cranmer and a contingent of singers from the Alert Bay band attended the signing ceremony, held Monday at the B.C. Legislature.

“It’s an agreeement with Nanwakolas First Nations, which now number 10 first nations in our language group,” said Cranmer. “It will be a continuation of the work the Nanwakolas does to benefit first nations in referrals, revenue sharing and everything to do with resources in the area.”

The original agreement was signed in 2007 with six member nations. The three-year extension signed Monday included for the first time the ‘Namgis and the We Wai Kai Nations, who added a combined 1.1 million hectares of asserted traditional territory.

“The other important area covered by the Nanwakolas is the shared, or overlapping territories of the 10 member nations,” said Cranmer. “That’s in both dispute resolution and revenue sharing. If we have resource revenues we agree to share in it instead of arguing over whose territory we’re in.”

Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith said other B.C. First Nations were skeptical of his group entering into forestry, mining and hydroelectric power deals without having treaties.

But since it was established in 2007, the number of Nanwakolas members participating has grown from six to 10, and similar “strategic engagement agreements” have been signed around the province. The agreement is leading towards a formal deal with coastal forest companies, a proposed coal mine and several proposed independent power projects, Smith said.

“We’ve always been a member of the Nanwakolas in the Coastal Planning Process since 2007, from the North Coast territories right down through the mainland inlets across from Cape Mudge and Campbell River,” Cranmer said. “But Vancouver Island wasn’t part of the planning area map, except for Hansen Island.”

The affected region in the new Nanwakolas land agreement extends from Port Hardy to Comox on eastern Vancouver Island, and a broad swath of the adjacent coast that includes Bute Inlet, Knight Inlet and north to Cape Caution. Also included are the Kliniklini and Homathko River watersheds, where large run-of-river hydro projects have been proposed.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Ida Chong said the agreement affects up to $6 billion worth of power projects, but Smith said the specifics are confidential due to discussions with private power developers.

The province has agreed to pay $2.26 million to the Nanwakolas Council to implement the agreement and build capacity to issue permits for construction.

Rick Jeffery, president of the Coastal Forest Products Association, said the agreement will help companies work out their own logging agreement on the entire traditional territory.

“It’s very hard for us to go into capital markets and raise money to rebuild mills or fund operations if you don’t have any certainty on the land base because of First Nations issues, so this is very positive,” Jeffery said.

Smith said the extension gives the Nanwakolas group certainty going into the 2013 provincial election, because it is a contract with the provincial Crown that continues regardless of who forms a government.

Cranmer, who was asked to coordinate the cultural aspect of Monday’s ceremony, brought several singers with him, including sons Eli and Tyler. The signing ceremony was also attended by Paddy Walkus, representing the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nations.

“It was quite a good ceremony,” said Cranmer. “We set up right off the rotunda, and it was quite an impressive sound with three drums and the young singers.”

With files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Most Read