By Roy L Hales
It has been almost two years since the Supreme Court of Canada recognized Aboriginal title in the caretaker area of the Xeni Gwet’in, one of six Tsilhqot’in communities. In item 153 of that decision, it says ” … British Columbia breached its duty to consult owed to the Tsilhqot’in through land use planning and forestry authorizations.” Now, as the first step towards a lasting settlement, BC signed a five year accord with the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
BC signed a five year accord with the Tsilhqot’in Nation
The Nenqay Deni Accord (or the “People’s Accord”) outlines the components to be negotiated: Tsilhqot’in culture and language; children and families; healthy communities; justice; education and training; lands and resources; and economic development.
There also be an agreement on the amount of crown land to be transferred to Tsilhqot’in management and control.
“This is progress toward greater certainty on the land base and toward lasting reconciliation. Title has been awarded in part of the traditional territory and this framework agreement supports the practical application of enacting title, sets the conditions for further land use negotiations and sets us on a strong path to reconciliation between our governments,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation”
A key focus is going to be supporting new economic development for the Tsilhqot’in communities that also makes a positive contribution to the economies of the region and British Columbia,” said Premier Christy Clark.
“This is a historic step, but it is only a first step. We view this agreement as a guide for further negotiations. It will provide us with durable resources that will be used to chart a culturally relevant and prideful path for our people – a path that understands the necessity of holding the Tsilhqot’in up, honouring our past and recognizing our future,” said Chief Joe Alphonse – Tribal Chairman, Tsilhqot’in National Government.
The First Step
There has been no agreement since the Europeans arrived.
Two years ago Premier Christy Clark apologized for the wrongful hangings of six war chiefs who attempted to negotiate a peace ending the Chilcotin (Tsilhqot’in) War of 1864.
“This is the first stepping stone in making alliances – in seeing if B.C. is willing and able to make the changes that we as Tsilhqot’in need to see. In signing this agreement we are asking B.C. to commit to improving the lives of the Tsilhqot’in people. Our vision is to build the strength of the Nation, to match the strength of our ?Esggidam (ancestors),” added Chief Roger William, Vice Chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government.
“Our people will ultimately have the authority on any agreements that are negotiated out of this. We call on our members, our citizens, to be fully engaged in shaping their future as Tsilhqot’in. Title to our land was recognized – we won that fight, but the larger fight – the fight for peace – that’s the work ahead of us,” said Chief Alphonse.