5 First Nations reach treaty land entitlement agreement with B.C., feds

Five First Nations in British Columbia have reached a settlement worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The settlement with provincial and federal governments will resolve long-standing treaty claims in northeastern B.C.

Blueberry River, Doig River, Halfway River, West Moberly and Saulteau nations reached the agreement on their Treaty Land Entitlement claims on April 15, according to a joint announcement.

Saulteau Chief Justin Napoleon said the agreement is huge for his community.

“It means the chance for economic prosperity, the opportunity to keep practicing our traditional way of life on the land,” he said.

“But it also means protecting a lot of our very essential and critical areas, the mass majority of lands that were selected for treaty land entitlement are based on cultural and social values.”

The nations signed Treaty 8 in 1899, but did not benefit from the use of their land while others developed it for the resources.

Under the settlement, B.C. will transfer about 44,266 hectares to the nations to address historical wrongs, and Canada will provide $800 million in compensation.

“…For far too long, promises, trust and relationships with Indigenous Peoples were broken because Canada did not live up to its obligations as a Treaty partner,” Marc Miller, federal minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, said in a statement.

“Now, we must work together to address that legacy and to renew our relationships to last generations. I would like to thank the Chiefs, Councils and the Province of British Columbia.”

Napoleon said he was grateful for the hard work of his community to reach this settlement agreement.

“A lot of my elders and predecessors put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the negotiation process, and just the struggle to get even into the negotiation claims government process took a lot of work and effort,” he told APTN News.

The parties had been negotiating their claims since 2004.

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