Kitselas First Nation, Canada Initial Draft Treaty

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, Chief Glenn Bennett of the Kitselas First Nation, the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Honourable Murray Rankin, British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, marked a significant milestone towards renewing their nation-to-nation relationships.

The Chief Negotiators of all three parties, witnessed by these dignitaries, have initialled the draft Kitselas Treaty, demonstrating progress towards Kitselas implementing their right to self-determination and realizing their vision of a better future for their communities.

This Treaty has been years in the making, building on decades of dialogue and negotiation to address the historical grievances and aspirations of the Kitselas people. The initialing of the Kitselas Treaty marks a pivotal step forward in advancing the Kitselas Treaty negotiation process. Initialling marks an important milestone in the treaty journey, as it signals the conclusion of substantive negotiations and readiness for the ratification process. Some changes may still be made prior to the membership ratification process, as Crown consultations with neighbouring First Nations remain ongoing. Once finalized, the Treaty will undergo a ratification process through a Kitselas membership vote and through provincial and federal legislation. If successfully ratified by all parties, the Kitselas Treaty will constitutionally recognize Kitselas First Nation's treaty rights to governance, harvesting, land ownership, resource management, and other rights and benefits.

In recent years, there have been significant and foundational shifts in policy and approach that have reenergized the treaty negotiations process in B.C., including the finalization of the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in 2019. These positive shifts reflect new approaches to negotiation in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

To get to this milestone, engagement activities have taken place throughout the many years of negotiations. Engaging and informing First Nation members, local governments, residents, business organizations, interest holders and other stakeholders, and the public is an important aspect of treaty and reconciliation negotiations and the ratification process.

The close of negotiations signifies the renewal of the nation-to-nation relationship between the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and Kitselas First Nation. If ratified, the Treaty would facilitate the implementation of Kitselas' right to self-determination, social-economic development and their vision for a better future for their community members. The parties look forward to finalizing this important work and to seeing the positive change this historic agreement will bring to the members of Kitselas First Nation.

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