VICTORIA – The Province and Saulteau First Nations have entered into an innovative, new agreement that will protect areas of traditional importance and guide natural resource development in the province’s Northeast.
Under the new government-to-government agreement, the Province and Saulteau First Nations will work together to manage lands and resources, including within the Peace-Moberly Tract. The tract is a large, high-value, traditional-use area northwest of Moberly Lake that is of great cultural significance to Saulteau First Nations.
The agreement also provides a plan for the expansion of Klin-se-za (Twin Sisters) protected area, an area of historic and spiritual significance to the Saulteau and other First Nations in northern B.C. Additionally, the agreement offers the Saulteau First Nations a stronger role in the stewardship of wildlife resources, forest licence opportunities, and watershed planning, and the management of other areas.
The agreement will also create a more collaborative and meaningful consultation process that will inform efforts to balance Treaty rights with the development of natural resources, and facilitate the fulfilment of the Province’s legal duty to consult regarding proposed development activities within Saulteau First Nations traditional territory. This will be accomplished through regular meetings between senior provincial and Saulteau First Nations staff that will enhance consultation processes to provide clear, consistent guidance on land management practices. Provincial ministers and Saulteau Chief and Council will also meet to discuss progress of the government-to-government relationship.
Natural resource development revenue and benefit sharing is another distinct part of the agreement. Saulteau First Nations are focused on using revenue sharing to enrich social programs and services that benefit community members, and will be identifying community projects to be funded under the agreement. Depending on the level of natural resource activity, this agreement has the potential to provide significant new provincial funding and economic benefits to the Saulteau First Nations over the next 10 years.
The Province and Saulteau First Nations expect a formal signing of the finalized agreement by summer’s end.
A companion 10-year Oil and Gas Consultation Agreement has also been signed by the Province and Saulteau First Nations. The agreement sets a clearer process for the Province to engage Saulteau First Nations for natural gas tenures and permitting. It also provides funding to support Saulteau First Nations’ ability to review oil and gas activity referrals within territory where they practice their treaty rights.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“The Saulteau people are proudly building a better economic and sustainable future, and focussed on preserving their culture, traditions and treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap. Chief Nathan Parenteau and his Council are showing leadership in the northeast, and this agreement reflects how responsible resource development can coexist with those treaty rights that benefit Saulteau First Nations members. The agreement presents a successful model for future discussions between the Province and other Treaty 8 First Nations.”
Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development –
“This agreement ensures the Saulteau First Nations will continue to benefit socially, culturally and economically from resource development, while providing greater protection for important historic and spiritual areas. Our comprehensive approach to including First Nations as active partners in resource development is building momentum and First Nations’ support for natural gas development in B.C.”
Chief Nathan Parenteau, Saulteau First Nations –
“This agreement is an important first step towards the recognition of our long-held Treaty rights. Our work together to preserve some of our most significant areas will help us maintain and strengthen our Treaty 8 rights, and our culture and traditions for present and future generations. The agreement also has the potential to help our community achieve its other goals, and it can be the beginning of a more balanced and respectful future relationship between the Province and our Nation. I look forward to working with the ministers on implementing the agreement and other sustainable development initiatives. In the spirit of moving forward together, industry must also begin to respect our Treaty rights, listen to our voices, and work with us to find solutions, in the same meaningful way that the Province is doing.”
- In effect until 2024, the agreement with Saulteau First Nations marries two priorities in the Province’s work with First Nations:
- Building relationships between the Province and First Nations that are based on respect, recognition, and setting mutual goals; and,
- A focus on closing gaps in social programs and services within Aboriginal communities, and ensuring they can meaningfully participate in economic development.
- B.C. is the first province in Canada to share provincial revenue from mining, forestry and other resources with First Nations.
- Revenue-sharing agreements flow a percentage of what the Province receives from resource development on the First Nation’s traditional territory directly back into the community, where First Nations can decide where it is needed most.
- This stimulates investment, creates jobs and helps close the gaps in programs and services between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal British Columbians to encourage Aboriginal people to remain connected to their cultures and communities.
- The Nation is also participating with other Treaty 8 Nations on a labour market study that will help its members take advantage of regional economic development opportunities, including liquefied natural gas.
- Saulteau First Nations are the most populace Treaty 8 First Nation, with approximately 1,000 members.
- Treaty 8 First Nations are members of Canada’s historic Numbered Treaties, a series of 11 treaties negotiated between Canada and First Nations from 1871-1921. Treaty 8 First Nations located in B.C. include: Saulteau First Nations, Blueberry River First Nations, Doig River First Nation, Fort Nelson First Nation, Halfway River First Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band, Prophet River First Nation, and West Moberly First Nations.
- Klin-se-za (Twin Sisters) protected area is located in northern B.C. between Chetwynd and Hudson’s Hope.
Saulteau First Nations: saulteau.com
Treaty 8 Labour Market Study funding: ow.ly/PIlRx
Reconciliation agreements with First Nations: ow.ly/O2IYv
Treaty 8 First Nations: ow.ly/O2PyU
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and
Chief Nathan Parenteau
Saulteau First Nations