The Government of Canada & A-Tlegay Member Nations
British Columbia – Today the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, and the Chiefs of the A-Tlegay Member Nations (We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Kwiakah First Nation, Tlowitsis Nation, and K’ómoks First Nation), announced the signing of the “Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Fisheries Resources.” All five nations have a long history of marine use and stewardship in the northern Gulf of Georgia and the Johnstone Strait region, and the Framework Agreement commits the Parties to work together based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.
The Framework Agreement forms a common fisheries negotiation table between the Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations (AMN). Through this agreement the parties are building a process that advances reconciliation in respect of fisheries resources. The goal is to expand the Nations’ access to the commercial industry, including aquaculture, develop community fisheries, and create a mechanism for collaborative governance of fisheries resources.
The Government of Canada and the AMN are committed to a reconciliation process that sees them as active participants and partners in the region’s fishery. Together, they are working to modernize and strengthen nation-to-nation, government-to-government structures, and through this, create opportunities for First Nations-led development of new economic initiatives in fisheries.
Negotiating fisheries issues collectively with the A-Tlegay Member Nations aligns with the Government of Canada’s approach to reconciliation and the DFO-Coast Guard Reconciliation Strategy and implements the Principals’ Accord On Transforming Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia to “improve and expedite treaty negotiations in British Columbia”. It implements the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia that provides for the negotiation of treaties, agreements and constructive arrangements to recognize and reconcile Indigenous rights and title. It also supports the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In this spirit, Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations are collaboratively defining the elements of a reconciliation agreement with the shared intent of securing mandates to allow the parties to conclude agreements.
“First Nations have been stewards of our oceans for generations, and they were the first peoples to fish this land. The goal of this agreement is to ensure that the A-Tlegay Member Nations are full participants in the commercial fishery today, and for generations to come. This marks an important step forward on the path of reconciliation between our nations. It is an opportunity to work together to advance a sustainable, prosperous fishery so the members of these communities can continue to feed their families and make a living off the sea, just as their ancestors have done for centuries.”
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The A-Tlegay Member Nations have a deep connection with the water and the fishery. It is an important part of their identity. This agreement to negotiate together is an important step in our collaborative efforts to renew and rebuild Canada’s relationship with the A-Tlegay Member Nations. Our government is firmly committed to advancing reconciliation, respecting Indigenous treaties, and implementing First Nation rights. We invite all Canadians to join us in celebrating this important step on the journey of reconciliation with the A-Tlegay Member Nations.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
As Nations with a profound connection with the fishery, we are pleased to be signing this framework agreement and look forward to continuing our collaborative work with Canada towards a comprehensive agreement that will help restore our rightful place as drivers of the fisheries economy and as stewards of our marine resources.
Statement from the A-Tlegay Member Nations
The A-Tlegay Member Nations are: We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Kwiakah First Nation, Tlowitsis Nation, and K’ómoks First Nation. Their territories include the northern Gulf of Georgia and the Johnstone Strait area, along the central and north east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
These five First Nations formed the A-Tlegay Fisheries Society in 1999 with capacity support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Aboriginal Fishing Strategy (AFS) program.
All five First Nations are in advanced treaty negotiations in the British Columbia treaty process.
Collectively, A-Tlegay Fisheries Society serves 2,786 First Nation citizens with reserves from Comox, B.C. (K’ómoks) to north of Johnstone Strait (Tlowitsis).
The goal of the Agreement signed today is the creation of a common fisheries negotiation table to discuss access to commercial fisheries, aquaculture, community-based commercial fisheries, collaborative fisheries management and capacity development elements.