Lheidli T’enneh Treaty Initiated

Lheidli T’enneh Treaty Initiated

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John Ahni Schertow
November 1, 2006
 

The agreement is said to be worth $73 million dollars in cash, land and forest tenure. (click here for highlights) It has now been initialed, opening the doors to ratification by the Lheidli T’enneh. This is the first treaty under the B.C. Treaty process and has been 13 years in the making so the three parties to the agreement wanted to celebrate.

Two hundred and fifty people turned out to the Civic Centre in Prince George to witness the historic event.

Premier Gordon Campbell said that for 2 centuries the relationship between B.C. and the First Nations was one of denial, and recognized that the Lheidli T’enneh had good reason not to trust, “Still, they came to the table, and I am determined to see that trust is rewarded.” he told the crowd.

The ceremony started with a processional of drummers followed by Lheidli T’enneh Band leaders and elders, representatives of government, and the negotiators.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister, Jim Prentice said the Treaty will let the Lheidli T’enneh “assume your rightful place in Canada”.

Chief Dominic Fredrick was given a standing ovation (left) as he approached the microphone, he said “We have come here today to turn the page and open a new chapter for the generations to come.”

The agreement has yet to be ratified, and will go before the Lheidli T’enneh voters in mid January. The Lheidli T’enneh have set the bar very high for ratification. They want approval by 70% of all votes cast in order to ratify the deal.

If the agreement fails that test, there is no treaty.

If ratified, it could take another full year before it would be approved by the Provincial and Federal governments.

Treaty Highlights
Sunday, October 29, 2006 02:45 PM
Three parties have put their signatures to a final agreement with the Lheidli T’enneh, it is the first final agreement reached under the British Columbia treaty process.

Signing the agreement for the Province was Premier Gordon Campbell, Canada’s Federal Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice, for the Federal Government and Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Fredrick.

The Agreement includes self government, rights to resources such as Wildlife, Fish and timber and sub surface minerals. Total land in the agreement is 4,330 hectares, which includes a large tract within the City of Prince George. Here are some of the other highlights:

The Lheidli T’enneh fishing and hunting area is about 4.6 per cent of the land mass in BC , bounded to the north about 50 kilometers north of Fort St James, to the south near Hixon and to the east , the border of BC and Alberta.

A capital transfer of $13.2 million dollars over 10 years, less the outstanding negotiations costs.

$400,000 dollars a year for 50 years in resource sharing payments indexed to inflation.

Ongoing funding of $1.8 million per year for existing programs and services and a number of new activities.

One time funding of $12.1 million to support ongoing costs of treaty management, one time transitions costs of land and resource management and establishment of a fisheries fund to support on going Lheidli T’enneh fisheries management.

The total cost of the agreement (including land value) is approximately $73,000,000 dollars of which the Federal and Provincial government will share 50-50

That figure translates into $228,125.00 dollars for each of the 320 people in the band, 100 who live on the reserve at Shelly, the balance in and around Prince George?

The Lheidli T’enneh will have law making powers similar to a municipality in most cases but will have provincial like powers when it comes to education and health and welfare.

The Lheidli T’enneh may participate on the board of the District of Fraser Fort George, the same as any other municipality.

The Lheidli T’enneh is in the process of negotiations with the City of Prince George for the sharing of costs on their traditional lands within the city. The City is seeking to have compensation paid by the band to off set any costs that might arise out of the new government within the existing municipality.

The final agreement provides for the allocation of sockeye salmon in the Upper Fraser for food, social and ceremonial purposes. That allotment will not exceed 12,350 sockeye a year and will average about 9,000 a year.

The Lheidli T’enneh also would have a separate harvest agreement that provides for commercial harvesting of Sockeye of less than 1% of the commercial allowable catch for Upper Fraser Sockeye. Based on figures from 1982-1997 that amounts to 6,000 fish per year.

At the end of the Shelly Timber agreement, Lheidli T’enneh will own all forest resources covered under this agreement.

British Columbia will establish a Lheidli T’enneh Hydro Power reservation for identified watersheds to allow Lheidli T’enneh the opportunity to investigate the potential for Hydro Power development.

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