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October 27, 2017 11:23 pm

Treaty Advisory Committee Reviews Lheidli T’enneh Agreement

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 @ 6:00 AM

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.


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