Historic B.C. treaty faces strong opposition
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | 1:22 PM PT
A traditional chief says he and his family will block a ground-breaking treaty with a First Nation in northern B.C.
At the signing ceremony in Prince George last month, Premier Gordon Campbell called the treaty with the Lheidli T’enneh band a “historic agreement and a “milestone of reconciliation.”
But traditional Lheidli T’enneh Chief Peter Quaw calls it “one of the worst treaties in Canadian history,” saying it won’t sustain current band members or future generations.
The treaty, the first final agreement negotiated through the B.C. Treaty process, has to be ratified by 70 per cent of band members.
Quaw vows to vote it down. “Just with my family alone, we have the numbers to stop that treaty in its tracks.”
Quaw, the band’s elected chief when he led the Lheidli T’enneh to the treaty table nearly 15 years ago, says the agreement doesn’t provide enough land or resources.
“You look at the land that’s being negotiated for, it’s the proverbial swampland. There’s no resources on it. How are we going to use that?”
Under the agreement, the band would get more than 4,000 hectares of land, more than $13 million in cash, plus timber and sockeye salmon harvesting rights.
‘Fair and equitable’ treaty: minister
B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister Mike de Jong said he’s reluctant to comment on the controversy, saying it’s up to the members of the band to decide.
But he did say the B.C. government considers this a “fair and equitable” treaty. And he noted the band’s elected leaders worked tirelessly to get this deal.
“There was a tremendous amount of support, enthusiasm for the treaty. But the band will have a vote, and at the end of the day, the Lheidli T’enneh will decide.”
De Jong won’t say what will happen if the band does reject the treaty when the ratification vote is held in January.
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