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B.C. First Nation has draft treaty after 30 years of hard work: treaty commissioner

TERRACE — The head of British Columbia’s Treaty Commission says the latest draft treaty signed in the province will allow the First Nation to “break free from the shackles of the Indian Act” and take control of their future.

Chief Commissioner Celeste Haldane says the agreement represents 30-plus years of hard work and will fulfil the band’s vision for self-governance and control over its territory and resources.

The Kitsumkalum is part of the Tsimshian First Nation, and its chief negotiator Gerald Wesley says reaching the draft treaty with the federal and provincial governments has been “a long journey” that started as far back as the 1970s.

The proposed deal for the 825 people of the nation located west of Terrace would give them more than 46,000 hectares of land, self-governing powers and control over territory and resources.

The nation’s members must still ratify the agreement, and if passed, the federal and provincial governments need to legislate the treaty to recognize the nation’s rights.

This is the second draft treaty announced in as many days after the neighbouring Kitselas First Nation said it had reached an agreement on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2024.

The Canadian Press