Canada, British Columbia and Tlowitsis Nation Advance to Final Stage of Treaty Negotiations
February 26, 2021 — Campbell River, BC — Tlowitsis Nation — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada — British Columbia Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
The governments of Canada, British Columbia and the Tlowitsis Nation have signed a new agreement that will further advance reconciliation and treaty negotiations.
Chief John Smith of the Tlowitsis Nation, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Murray Rankin, provincial Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, signed the Tlowitsis Nation Transition to Stage 5 Memorandum of Understanding.
The Memorandum of Understanding advances treaty negotiations to the final stage and will guide the parties to conclude a treaty that supports the Tlowitsis Nation’s right to self-determination and defines a new relationship between Tlowitsis Nation, Canada and British Columbia.
Canada, British Columbia and the Tlowitsis Nation will begin the last stage of work together to finalize a treaty that supports a thriving future for Tlowitsis community members for all the generations to come. This work is creating the foundation for a renewed relationship based on recognition of rights, cooperation, respect and partnership.
The Memorandum of Understanding commits the parties to establish a new approach to their treaty negotiations which will be guided and informed by the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia that was collaboratively developed and released by the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the First Nations Summit in September 2019.
This new approach to negotiations ensures agreements align with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. This includes the recognition and continuation of rights without those rights being modified, surrendered, or extinguished when a treaty is signed and that treaties are flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances over time.
This new collaborative approach supports the shared goal of advancing reconciliation and supporting healthy and prosperous Indigenous communities in Canada, which will benefit Tlowitsis Nation citizens and all British Columbians and Canadians alike.
"We have reached another achievement in this long, arduous journey to ensure the survival of the Tlowitsis Peoples,” said Chief John Smith of the Tlowitsis Nation. “Though I am not pleased with the pace of negotiations, I appreciate the hard work that has been done. Thanks to the Ministers for moving on this occasion. We have had a continuing struggle for 60 years. Our old village - where I was born - was very tiny, and we hope to move more quickly to establish our new community, Nenagwas, on the new land that we've purchased."
Chief John Smith
“The signing of the Tlowitsis Nation Transition to Stage 5 Memorandum of Understanding is a key step on our path of reconciliation with the Tlowitsis Nation and their members. By working together as partners we create the foundation for a renewed relationship that supports the Tlowitsis Nation right to self-determination and supports them in building a better future for their community”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“This MOU is an important step forward in the relationship our government shares with Tlowitsis Nation. It is a tangible expression of our commitment to implementing flexible agreements that are better suited to addressing the needs of individual Nations. Almost 60 years after being forced from their homes and land, Tlowitsis members are establishing a community they can call home. This treaty work supports the Nation’s vision of self-determination, which will help Tlowitsis to build a thriving community for future generations.”
The Honourable Murray Rankin
British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
The Tlowitsis Nation has approximately 450 members and 11 remote reserves. Their traditional territories span the coastal area of Northern Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait and adjacent mainland inlets.
In the late 1960s, the Tlowitsis Nation was displaced from its reserve at Kalagwees on Turnour Island, leaving its members to disperse with no home or connection to their traditional territory.
In 2018, after an extensive engagement process with local government, Tlowitsis Nation purchased a 257-hectare parcel of land near Campbell River called Nenagwas (“a place to come home to”) and established a new reserve with a vision to build a community and a home for its people. Nenagwas will become the seat of government for a self-governing Tlowitsis Nation.
For more information, media may contact:
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
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