B.C., McLeod Lake Indian Band sign agreements to protect treaty rights
May 5, 2023 By Government of B.C.
The Province of B.C. and McLeod Lake Indian Band have reached new agreements outlining how co-management and stewardship of the land and natural resources in the Nation’s territory will evolve.
“These agreements prioritize sustainability, fair distribution of benefits and Treaty Rights,” said Chief Harley Chingee, McLeod Lake Indian Band. “Not only will they benefit our present members, but they also ensure that future generations will inherit more prosperous and healthy land. We are committed to working collaboratively with Treaty 8 Nations and the Government of B.C.”
“This work is about advancing our treaty relationship together. Through government-to-government collaboration and shared decision-making on the land, we will address the cumulative impacts of industrial development and bring forward collective solutions to benefit all those living in the northeast region of B.C.,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
A letter of agreement and a revenue-sharing agreement were signed to guide joint work on assessing and managing the impacts of industrial development and creating a shared path forward for healing and restoring the land, while providing certainty to industry partners working with Nations in their territories.
“This is important work for all of us – it’s about leaving the land in a good way for future generations,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “Together with Chief Chingee and McLeod Lake Indian Band, we will make shared decisions on the land that ensure all Nation members can meaningfully exercise their Treaty Rights, while building a healthy and prosperous future for everyone.”
The agreements will bring new opportunities, including:
- a new revenue-sharing approach to support the priorities of McLeod Lake Indian Band;
- a multi-year shared restoration fund to help heal the land through restoration activities selected by the Nation;
- a new approach to wildlife co-management that promotes improved shared understanding and management of wildlife in areas of cultural importance to McLeod Lake;
- new land-use plans and protection measures;
- pilot projects to advance shared decision-making for planning and stewardship activities with other Treaty 8 Nations and the Province to address cumulative effects; and
- actions to promote education about Treaty 8 through collaborative promotion, anti-racism training and awareness building.
In January 2023, B.C. and four other Treaty 8 Nations signed similar agreements on a collaborative approach to land and resource planning, and to advance regional solutions to benefit everyone living in northeastern B.C. and Treaty 8 territory. The agreements follow a June 2021 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that determined that the constitutionally protected Treaty 8 rights of the Blueberry River First Nations were breached by the cumulative impacts of industrial development authorized by successive provincial governments over many years.
“Agreements like this solidify our commitment to ensuring First Nations are partners in determining how resources on their territory are managed. Hearing from the people who live on this land is one of the best ways we can collaborate on the best stewardship practices for the region. The McLeod Lake Indian Band continues to be an important partner in the forestry sector as we work to protect Nations’ traditional rights,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests.
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