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

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: North Island beauty

“don’t forget to look up and observe the beauty of the whole North Island”

LETTER: Miles put on the car causes North Island driver to reflect

“Up here in Port McNeill we are so blessed with nature’s tranquillity all around us”

Collaborative effort removes salmon farms from BC coast

The first farms to be removed were those in closest to the Ahta and Viner Rivers.

North Island Concert Society: Marc Atkinson Trio coming to the Civic Centre

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the Port Hardy Civic Centre.

MP Blaney welcomes feedback on medical assistance in dying legislation

Over the next two weeks the Government of Canada is holding consultations… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read