Four First Nations reach agreement with BC on resource management
An agreement in principle on the exploitation of natural resources on their territory has been reached between four First Nations in northeastern British Columbia and the provincial government .
British Columbia and four other Treaty No. 8 reached an agreement in principle Friday on natural resource management following the historic agreement announced by Premier David Eby between the province and Blueberry River First Nation in Prince George on Wednesday.
The province has signed a resource development and revenue sharing agreement with the Fort Nelson, Saulteau, Halfway River and Doig River First Nations located in the northeast of the province.
One of the priorities detailed in the agreement is to address the cumulative impacts of industrial development and oil, gas and logging.
We want to heal the land and heal the people, as a result of this industrial development, said Minister of Water, Lands and Natural Resources Stewardship Nathan Cullen.
The province and First Nations will work together to plan for resource development and work toward land restoration, says Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin.
< p class="e-p">The June 29, 2021 judgment of the Supreme Court of British Columbia paved the way for these agreements.
The decision established that development, including forestry, oil and gas, was authorized by the provincial government on Blueberry River First Nation territory in violation of Treaty No. 8.
Three men from the Blueberry River First Nation in northern British Columbia play of a traditional instrument.
The chiefs present at the virtual press conference presenting the agreement on Friday wanted to highlight the hard work of the Blueberry River First Nation.
Thank you for defending our rights in court, without you we would not be here today. I've heard about our treaty rights since I was little, it's been a long time coming, says Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Sharleen Gale.
Treaty no. 8 guarantees the signatory Aboriginal community the right to continue their traditional activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing.
Over the next two years, the province and the First Nations will put in place strategies for education and awareness of the rights recognized by Treaty no. 8, Indigenous culture and anti-racism.
Sharleen Gale thanked the province for making the right decision in looking for a way to move forward and not take us to court. For sure, there will be fears and concerns on both sides, but it is possible to move forward.
“As our ancestors taught us, if we take care of the earth, the earth will take care of us!” It's not just for our kids, it's for your kids too.
— Chief Sharleen Gale, Fort Nelson First Nation
The BC government says it continues to work with the other three Treaty No. 8, West Moberly, Prophet River and McLeod Lake Indian Band.