Environmental remediation at Ladysmith’s harbour is one of the issues intended to be addressed with a new reconciliation agreement between the area’s Stz’uminus First Nation and the B.C. government.
Stz’uminus and the province announced the signing earlier this week. As part of the agreement, the province will provide $10 million over five years for Stz’uminus-led work on Crown land in harbour, with the intention of supporting land acquisition and management plans in the area, stated a B.C. government press release.
In addition, the deal is expected to lead to “commitments to work together on community priorities and future land transfers” and support for economic development.
The agreement is part of efforts to identify “potential provincial Crown land for transfer and a commitment to land-transfer agreements as much as $28.5 million,” said the press release.
The agreement will offer Stz’uminus $3 million in immediate financial benefits, which will support economic development initiatives.
While the deal will be an immense venture that will take a number of years, the partnership between Stz’uminus and province is “a win-win situation,” the press release noted.
In the release, Murray Rankin, B.C. minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, said the province always seeks ways to partner with First Nations toward reconciliation.
“By working collaboratively with Stz’uminus, we have come up with an agreement that includes a framework for future discussions related to revenue sharing, self-government, increasing Stz’uminus’ participation in the forestry sector, cultural, economic and social supports, something that is deeply important to both the nation and the province,” Rankin said.
Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, echoed Rankin’s sentiments, saying he’s proud of investments in housing and language restoration and putting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legislation.
“Nothing compares to seeing this work happen on a local level and I am so happy to see this agreement signed between the Stz’uminus First Nation and our government,” he said in the release.
Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris expressed optimism.
“There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into the negotiation of this agreement,” she said in the release. “Stz’uminus looks forward to next steps in the implementation.”