Preparing for The Day After Treaty
Are treaties the answer?
That was the question posed by the BC Treaty Commission at a three-day forum held in November at the Hyatt Regency, Vancouver.
In 2007, six First Nations ratified two final agreements under the BC treaty process. Three other First Nations are expected to conclude final agreement negotiations soon, and others are expected to conclude agreement in principal negotiations. The Treaty Commission felt it was a good time to look at what will happen the day after treaties are achieve in British Columbia.
69 First Nations and First Nation organizations from across Canada gathered November 14th-16th to discuss Preparing for the Day After Treaties. The conference hosted by the BC Treaty Commission in partnership with the Nisga’a Lisims Government, brought together 217 delegates to share their experiences with modern-day treaty making and lessons learned in achieving and implementing those agreements.
Among the speakers was Nelson Leeson, elected President of the Nisga’a Lisims Government, who shared the Nisga’a experience negotiating over 20 years the first modern-day treaty in British Columbia.
“For those of you who think we had some kind of special device or knowledge: we didn’t,” said Leeson in his keynote address opening the conference. “We did it through hard work, determination and unwavering perserverance.
“And we negotiated. We believe that only through negotiation can you find a way to agree on something where before we were miles apart.”
Forum participants also heard from Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, Paul Kaludjak, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Matthew Coon Come, Council of Crees, Jim Aldridge, legal council for the Nisga’a Lisims Government, Robert Morales, Chief Negotiator for the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, Chief Bill Cranmer of the ‘Namgis Nation, and Marvin George of the Lheidli T’enneh, to name just a few.
Acting Chief Commissioner Jack Weisgerber, in summing up the conference said, “This was a great opportunity for First Nations that have achieved treaties to share their experience with First Nations that are still seeking a treaty.”
A publication of the proceedings from this event are available on this website.
What They Said:
“Very informative; gave me a little more insight in what to expect in the implementation stage and the importance of capacity building/development of our younger generation.”
“I believe that I got enough tools to help our people sit up and take notice of the job that we have at hand with our treaty.”
“The conference overall was very valuable as it has put perspective to the Nations who are in current ongoing negotiations.”