To be accepted into the treaty process, a First Nation’s governing body must submit a Statement of Intent that meets the Commission’s criteria for Stage 1.
The definition of First Nation is set out in s. 1.1 of the B.C. Treaty Commission Agreement. A First Nation is:
an aboriginal governing body, however organized and established by aboriginal people within their traditional territory in British Columbia, which has been mandated by its constituents to enter into treaty negotiations on their behalf with Canada and British Columbia
As recommended by the British Columbia Claims Task Force, treaty negotiations are conducted on a government to government basis. Implicit in the definition of First Nation is a requirement that its organization be appropriate to the task of negotiating and implementing a treaty of the kind contemplated by the Task Force Report. There should be elements of “nationhood” such as;
- a shared sense of identity, language, laws and customs among the aboriginal people,
- historical exercise of control over a distinct traditional territory that is not wholly shared or disputed,
- a degree of historical existence as a governing body, and
- reasonably sizeable body of aboriginal people able to sustain the effective negotiation and implementation of a treaty.
This is the definition of First Nation that the Commission will apply for the purposes of treaty negotiations, and the definition that is generally applied throughout this document.