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Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

Photo by Birgitte Bartlett

BC Treaty Process

In short, a treaty is a negotiated agreement that defines the rights, responsibilities and relationships between a First Nations people and the federal and provincial governments. The British Columbia Treaty Process (BCTP) is a land claims negotiation process started in 1993 to resolve outstanding issues - including claims to un-extinguished aboriginal rights and title - with British Columbia's First Nations. The Treaty Process as set out by the BC Treaty Commission is the most constructive and practical means to address the complex issues relating to aboriginal rights and title.

What will Treaties Accomplish? Treaties will clearly set out the land rights, obligations and authorities of First Nations in relation to other governments. Treaties will enhance First Nations’ opportunities for economic development, self-government and self-reliance, and cultural and social well-being. Treaties will create certainty over the use and management of lands and resources that will lead to a more stable climate for business and investment.

Under the BC treaty process, each First Nation, Canada and BC may introduce any issue at the negotiation table that it views as significant to the new relationship. Although each treaty negotiation is unique, comprehensive treaties will address:

  • First Nations government structures and related financial arrangements
  • Jurisdiction and ownership of lands, waters and resources
  • Resource harvesting rights
  • Cash settlements

Treaties will also establish processes for amendment and resolving disputes.

British Columbia's 6 Step Process.

6 Stage Treaty Process

The modern treaty unfolds over a six-stage process. To start the process [1], the First Nation involved in the process sends a statement of intent to the BCTC indicating it wishes to commence negotiations.

After this [2], the negotiation readiness of all three Parties—the Nation, the BC government, and the Canadian government—is established. The Treaty Commission convenes a meeting, usually on the traditional territory of the First Nation, and the issues of concern are identified.

At this point [3], a Framework Agreement is established: all the major points of the planned-for treaty are established, along with an estimated timeframe. The framework becomes the skeleton of the treaty that will be formed in the later stages of negotiation.

Based on the Framework Agreement, the parties work on the [4] Agreement in Principle, which is built upon extensive discussion by the Parties over the elements set out in the Framework Agreement. The right and obligations discussed at this stage include such areas as: land, water and resources; structures and authorities of government; relationship of laws; regulatory processes; amending processes; dispute resolution; financial component and fiscal relations.

After this stage, the negotiation of the Final Agreement [5] begins. The new relationship between the parties is established and documented, and the legal details are resolved. The treaty is drafted, signed, and formally ratified.

This leads us to the last stage [6], in which the treaty goes from being words on the page to real-world, implemented action. As many of the goals of the treaty will be long-term, this process is one that begins as soon as the treaty is signed, but continues for many years.

To view the BC Treaty Commission's video on the Treaty Process, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfhbrP_OVwo