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.

 

Just Posted

Saanich School District parents welcome end of strike

Various sides of support worker strike acknowledge remaining tensions

Two Sidney seniors struck by vehicle with foggy windows in marked crosswalk

Driver fined for failure to yield, limited visibility caused by foggy windows

Escaped Metchosin inmate sentenced to additional year tacked on to 14-year sentence

Man escaped from William Head Institution arrested days later in Esquimalt

Peninsula Panthers lose two straight for first time in season

Panthers have now lost five games, including three against the Victoria Cougars

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

EDITORIAL: It’s time to face the truth on drug use

The homeless don’t own the drug epidemic

B.C. pushes for greater ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

B.C. petition calls for seat belts in new school buses

Agassiz bus driver collects 124,000 signatures in support

Duncan man gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty trial

Joe also gets lifetime ban on owning animals

Campbell River RCMP officer assaulted during traffic stop

Officer expected to make a full recovery; had been conducting impaired driving investigation alone

Most Read