Treaty Advisory Committee Reviews Lheidli T’enneh Agreement
Prince George, B.C. – With the Lheidli T’enneh announcing they will be holding a second vote on their treaty agreement, it was time for the Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee to meet again.
The Committee huddled yesterday, the first meeting since July of last year, and only the third such meeting since February of 2011.
The Committee is designed to have a seat in treaty negotiations to ensure the interests of local and regional governments have a voice in treaty development. The negotiations with the Lheidli T’enneh ended long ago, so the session was more of a refresher course on the agreement that will be put to a vote this fall.
The deal the Lheidli T’enneh will put to a vote this fall remains the same as the 2006 package with some upgrades. The financial component will be revised for inflation, taxation policies will be updated to meet current federal rules, and some language will have to be revised to reflect current realities, for example; the agreement refers to West Coast Energy, which no longer exists, so that reference will have to be updated to Spectra Energy.
The agreement includes 4,330 hectares of land, (which includes existing Reserve land) a cash component and rights for self governance, fishing and hunting. (original final agreement can be accessed here)
“This will be the final vote on the agreement” said Nick Crisp, treaty negotiator with the Province’s Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. The first vote had a threshold of 70% for approval, this time the threshold is 50% plus 1.
Crisp says the Lheidli T’enneh have been working very hard to bring their members up to date on all aspects of the agreement “They have been holding community meetings and offering detailed sessions the lands and the financial compensation.”
The first vote failed says Crisp because the agreement was one of the first modern treaties to be developed and many Lheidli T’enneh did not fully understand the agreement or the process.
Mayor of Mackenzie, Pat Crook, has been advocating for rural representation on the Board of Trustees for School District 57. He supports the idea of the Lheidli T’enneh having a seat on that Board. The Lheidli T’enneh would have the right to develop K-12 education curriculum, but Crisp was not certain about the Board representation.
Then there is the matter of overlapping land claims. Federal Government rep, Ben Clermont, advised the Committee the Federal Government has notified First Nations who have overlapping claims with the Lheidli T’enneh, as the Federal Government has an obligation to consult and if necessary accommodate those other First Nations.
The Provincial negotiators are “encouraging First Nations to resolve those overlapping issues between themselves” said Nick Crisp, who says there may end up being what he called “pinch points” which will need to be rectified.
The Committee also wanted to know how the Lheidli T’enneh government would contribute to the Regional Hospital District. Each municipality and electoral area in the Regional District pays a tax for major health care infrastructure. The Lheidli T’enneh would for their own government, so it would be likely they will have to make a contribution to the Regional Hospital District, but that has not yet been confirmed.
The Lheidli T’enneh will hold their vote in October in four different communities:
- October 15, 2016 — Vancouver Native Friendship Centre — 1607 E Hastings St. Vancouver, BC
- October 18, 2016 — Crest Hotel, Prince Rupert, BC
- October 21, 2016 — Lheidli T’enneh Administration Office — 1041 Whenun Rd, Prince George, BC
- October 22, 2016 — Coast Inn of the North, Prince George, BC
The ballots will be counted and results issued following the final vote in Prince George on the 22nd of October.