Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett in Whitehorse in 2017. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

New rights-based approach to First Nations treaty-making rolled out

A new co-operatively developed policy could renew treaty-making with recognition of rights

It could kick-start treaty negotiations in B.C.

Canada, B.C. and First Nations Summit officials have together hammered out a new “rights-based” policy for treaty negotiations in B.C. to replace the previous one-size-fits-all approach.

The ‘Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia’ policy will usher in a new way of dealing with treaties.

“It’s a substantive transformation,” said Carolyn Bennett, federal minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in a phone interview. “It felt historic because it means no longer do people have to surrender their rights in order to get out from under the Indian Act.”

Terry Horne, chief of Yakweakioose First Nation near Chilliwack, said his community is part of the six- member Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association, which is at Stage 5 in the treaty process.

“It’s all good stuff, and it’s what we had during our negotiations,” said Chief Horne about the rights-based approach. “The big change is not having to extinguish rights and title to enter the process got put back on the table.”

Although the SXTA expects to sign a final agreement within the next five years, and this new policy could help other Indigenous groups.

“It does set some standards,” said Horne. “When we were in negotiations, we were pushing these same boundaries, which were groundbreaking, and were the first.”

The new policy was co-developed by treaty principals — Canada, the First Nations Summit and British Columbia — to offer guidance on how treaties, agreements and other arrangements are to be negotiated, consistent with the constitution, and commitments to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in B.C., as well as international law, Indigenous laws and legal orders.

With the federal budget of 2019 containing provisions for forgiving treaty loans, the new policy could also be incentive for those who left the treaty process or never entered to begin with, Minister Bennett said.

The new policy “clears the way” for recognition of Indigenous rights and title, including self-determination, and could lead to restoring trust in the process, said Robert Phillips, a member of the First Nations Summit political executive.

“I think this will be very significant in making progress in treaty negotiations,” Phillips said, calling it “a breakthrough, and a step toward reconciliation.”

There might be some naysayers but he urges them to look closely at what’s in the policy.

The central feature is basing negotiations on the recognition and continuation of rights without those rights being modified, surrendered or extinguished when a treaty is signed.

“From this recognition, and more importantly the implementation of this new approach, it will foster more of a relationship between First Nations and the Crown. Parties would enter negotiations in the past and it was like a divorce. This is more of a relationship,” said Phillips.

It could help address longstanding issues that became obstacles as the treaty policy stalled over the years.

“We look forward to the breakthroughs that should result from these long-awaited innovations,” he added.

It also includes commitments to address shared or overlapping territories, and to respect the rights of Indigenous groups not participating in the B.C. treaty process.

A made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations process was created in 1992. Since then, 11 First Nations in B.C. have reached modern treaties with self-government and 28 First Nations groups are now in the advanced stages of negotiation.

READ MORE: Six First Nations signed new treaty


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

White Rock couple to donate blood 325th time, collectively

Anne Friendly will make her 175th donation, while her husband Kevin Klop will donate his 150th time

South Surrey mothers to launch CBD-infused water product

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

4-year-old child injured in Surrey after falling out window

Child fell out of third-storey window, expected to fully recover

North Delta crime beat, week of Sept. 8

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

City of White Rock hosts official pier reopening

Event included ribbon-cutting, speeches, live music

VIDEO: ‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ top Emmys

Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay black man to win best drama-series acting Emmy

Trudeau attacks Scheer, Harper, Ford in first federal salvo for Ontario

Liberal leader targets three big conservative rivals in second full week of campaign

Over 200 Hotel Georgia hospitality workers join ‘open-ended strike’

Unionized workers at Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront have also walked out

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Hiker rescued after spending night on Crown Mountain

North Shore Rescue spotted the woman by helicopter over Hanes Valley

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Vancouver Giants complete weekend sweep of Cougars

Back-to-back road trip victories for Langley-based team

Most Read