Deal a long time coming
By Arthur Williams
Aug 04 2006
Lheidli T'enneh Band, B.C. government and federal government negotiators
announced they reached a final treaty, Tuesday.
The treaty - 13 years in the making - is the first to be reached under
the B.C. treaty process.
Details of the treaty are still under wraps, but some of the terms
include: a $27 million one-time grant; $400,000 a year in revenue
sharing for 50 years, 4,330 hectares of treaty lands, 107,000 cubic
metres in long-term timber supply, fishery rights to harvest 9,000 to
10,000 sockeye salmon for food, social and ceremonial purposes and the
right to harvest 6,000 sockeye per year for sale.
The one-time grant will cover the $6 million spent by the band
throughout the negotiation process.
The 312-member band will also have the right of self-governance, with
governmental responsibilities crossing traditional municipal, provincial
and federal jurisdictions.
Several side agreements are still being discussed, but negotiators
expect to sign off on the treaty this September.
After that, the Lheidli T'enneh people will have a chance to review the
treaty and decide whether to ratify it. If the Lheidli T'enneh approve
the agreement, then it will go to the provincial and federal governments
to passed into legislation.
"Our expectation is all three parties will ratify the agreement,"
Lheidli T'enneh chief negotiator Mark Stevenson said. "The negotiations
If the agreement is ratified, Stevenson said, then the Lheidli T'enneh's
reservation land status - along with it's tax exemptions - would be
phased out. If the treaty isn't ratified, negotiators head back to the
Although the Lheidli T'enneh treaty is the first to be completed in
B.C., Stevenson said, he doesn't believe it will be a template for other
First Nations treaties.
"This is a Lheidli T'enneh agreement," he said.
Federal negotiator Tom Malloy said various government departments have
been consulted throughout the process, so he doesn't expect any
opposition to the agreement.
Lheidli T'enneh Chief Dominick Frederick said his people have been
waiting a long time for this agreement.
"It will have a huge impact on our community. It will be a huge change
in terms of self government," Frederick said.
"We will have more of a say in our fisheries and hunting and way of life."
Frederick said he can't predict if the Lheidli T'enneh community will
ratify the deal.
"A lot of our community members are well-versed in the issues," he said.
"When they are ready to sign, they will sign. It's their agreement, they
have to be satisfied with it."