Former Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird introduces her child to former premier Gordon Campbell at signing ceremony for the Tsawwassen treaty in 2007. It is one of four treaties completed under the B.C. Treaty Commission.

Ottawa seeks new aboriginal claims system

Treaty talks would take another 85 years at current pace, and most of the historic disputes are in B.C.

Canada’s aboriginal land claims resolution system has turned into an employment program for some of those involved, with “a conspicuous lack of urgency in negotiations” and little common ground after 10 or more years at most treaty tables.

That’s one conclusion from federal advisor Doug Eyford, who spent six months consulting on the state of treaty-making across Canada since aboriginal title was protected in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The report focuses heavily on B.C., which has 54 active treaty tables and only four agreements in the 22 years of the federally-financed B.C. Treaty Commission. Parts of Quebec, Labrador, Ontario, the north and most of B.C. never completed early treaties that extinguished aboriginal title and made way for settlement and development in the rest of Canada.

“At the current pace, treaty-making may continue for the rest of this century,” Eyford wrote.

Eyford presented his report last week to Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. With a federal election set for this fall, Valcourt said the months to come will require more discussions with provinces and First Nations on Eyford’s recommendations for a “new direction” in settling historic disputes.

The report’s release comes a week after the B.C. government cancelled the appointment of former cabinet minister George Abbott to head the B.C. Treaty Commission. Premier Christy Clark said there isn’t enough to show for more than $600 million, most of it debt accumulated by B.C. First Nations. Clark questioned whether the B.C. Treaty Commission should continue, since more B.C. First Nations remain outside the talks than inside.

Scott Fraser, aboriginal relations critic for the B.C. NDP, accused Clark of acting unilaterally to disrupt the existing system.

The First Nations Summit, which represents B.C.’s participating aboriginal communities, issued a statement saying despite the “confusion” over Abbott’s appointment, the B.C. Treaty Commission “remains active and will continue into the future.”

Chief Maureen Chapman, B.C. spokesperson for the national Assembly of First Nations, said Eyford’s recommendations point to a new federal system, not tinkering with the status quo.

“After numerous court victories by our peoples and the failure of the current treaty-making process in B.C. to deliver significant results, Canada must move away from a policy of First Nations making claims to the Crown by fully embracing the need for real recognition followed by true reconciliation,” Chapman said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

Reimagined campaign continues to make Vancouver Island wishes come true

#UnWinedOutside allows participants to support Make-A-Wish Foundation, local businesses

Laid-off hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Police investigating string of break-ins at closed Saanich care home

Electronics, tools reported stolen from Mount Tolmie Hospital

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Most Read