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

Residents around Sidney’s Reay Creek Pond welcome federal remediation efforts

It is not clear yet whether Sidney will renovate nearby dam at the same time

Camp fun still offered in Greater Victoria

Easter Seals offers day camp options to replace cancelled overnight camps

Public to weigh in on Colwood Royal Bay development Monday

Application to rezone lands north of Latoria Boulevard submitted to council

Loss of UVic dog park deals a blow to socially anxious pets

Owners of non-socialized dogs seek safe space following closure of Cedar Hill Corner

Swim advisory issued at Cadboro Bay beach due to high bacteria levels

Island Health advises against water activities, swimming

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read