Kwantlen First Nation takes possession of forest land

Maple Ridge Times

Published: Saturday, June 03, 2006

MAPLE RIDGE

In an emotional ceremony, the Kwantlen First Nation took possession of a section of forest in Maple Ridge within its traditional territory.

At the nation's band office on MacMillan Island, Kwantlen chief Marilyn Gabriel signed a Forest and Range Opportunities agreement with local MLA and Forests Minister Rich Coleman.

Coleman said he was pleased to be signing the first of a new series of agreements in his home riding, and he and Gabriel exchanged gifts. Coleman and the other negotiators who took part in the year-and-a-half long process were given ceremonial blankets and headbands.

The new agreement will give the Kwantlen access to 26,000 cubic metres of timber and $433,000 to help develop the nation's economic base. The forest land will be in the Blue Mountain area north of Maple Ridge, part of the Kwantlen's traditional territory. It will amount to about 600 hectares, although the final location hasn't been formally sketched out, said lead government negotiator Bill Dumont.

It is one of a series of interim agreements signed with First Nations from around B.C. as they make their way through the lengthy land claims treaty process.

It is also the first time the Kwantlen have had an increase in their land base since the foundation of Canada as a country.

 The Vancouver Sun 2006