shíshálh Nation and B.C. sign landmark agreement, breaking new ground in advancing reconciliation

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A landmark reconciliation agreement between the shíshálh Nation and B.C. recognizes and respects Indigenous title and rights, and supports self-determination and shíshálh self-government.

The agreement is a commitment to working together to protect the environment, as well as promote economic opportunity and growth for the shíshálh Nation and the entire Sechelt region.

“This is a historic day, that our people have worked towards for generations. We have advanced every path to true reconciliation,” said Chief Warren Paull, shíshálh Nation. “Every step of the way we have sought that a proper foundation be set based on recognition of our governments, laws, and jurisdiction, a true government-to-government relationship, protection of culture and our natural environment, and real investments in economic growth. Today, that has been accomplished through a totally new type of agreement that will be to the enduring benefit of our Nation, and all who live in our Territory, for decades to come.”

This is the first major reconciliation agreement between this provincial government and a First Nation. It represents a progressive and collaborative approach to the implementation of shíshálh title and rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It also represents a new model that pushes past some of the obstacles that have been sources of delay and conflict in the past.

“The people of the shíshálh Nation have led with vision and courage to make transformative change for their community,” said Premier John Horgan. “Our government is proud to work with shíshálh Nation in a renewed government-to-government relationship, based on rights, reconciliation and respect. It’s part of our commitment to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and build a better future for everyone in B.C.”

A key part of the agreement includes the establishment of a landmark government-to-government working relationship that will create new decision-making structures between the Province and shíshálh government. Other key components include land transfers, economic and socio-cultural investments, establishment of a land-use planning process and joint aspirational long-term commitments.

The agreement includes the transfer of three parcels of Crown land adjacent to existing shíshálh lands to be used for economic development purposes, including gravel extraction as well as for social and cultural purposes.

B.C. is providing approximately $36 million to support land purchases and implementation costs. Funding for implementation and forestry initiatives will be spread over the first five years of the agreement while both parties look ahead to how the agreement might evolve to encompass other types of land and resource decisions.

The agreement formalizes the Shared Decision Making Pilot Agreement for forestry decisions and broadens the scope to include additional forms of land and resource decisions over time.

B.C. has been working with shíshálh to actively engage industry stakeholders and local governments about the agreement.

Quotes:

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –  

“The agreement represents the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in action as we move forward on long-term reconciliation, self-determination and economic prosperity for the shíshálh Nation and the entire region. We are proud to stand with the shíshálh and honour their connection to their swiya that will underpin the exciting work we are doing together.”

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development –

“Shared decision making is a powerful tool that allows each party to understand each other’s priorities and perspectives on decisions on the land base. It is key to bringing in a new era of recognition, which will bring clarity and predictability to decision making and economic growth strategies throughout the region.”

John Mohammed, president, A&A Trading Ltd. 

“The framework agreement is a model for how reconciliation and implementation of Indigenous rights, economic growth, and protection of the environment can be aligned. It provides clarity about how decisions are made, confirms the values and objectives that must be respected and achieved, provides investments and land transfers that will create jobs and opportunities for shíshálh and the region as a whole and respects shíshálh government, decision making and laws. Agreements such as this create an environment where First Nations, industry and government can work in harmony, and A&A looks forward to being an active ally and partner in the successful implementation of the agreement.”

Pat Heale, vice-president and general manager materials – British Columbia, Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd. 

“Lehigh Hanson Materials Limited has had a long and successful relationship with the shíshálh Nation. We are honoured to be invited to help celebrate and support the new agreement between the shíshálh and the Province of British Columbia. We congratulate shíshálh and the Province on this achievement.

“Our operating aggregate mine on shíshálh lands depends on a respectful and successful relationship with the shíshálh Nation. As shíshálh and the Province of British Columbia move forward with implementing their historic agreement, Lehigh and shíshálh will continue with our excellent relationship and building a future together.”

Ric Slaco, vice-president and chief forester, Interfor –

“We welcome, applaud and celebrate this milestone. Over the years, the relationship between Interfor and shíshálh has transformed into one of true collaboration and partnership, but to truly build a prosperous and sustainable future together requires governments to step forward and build relationships based on recognition and respect of title and rights. The agreement achieves this and will advance reconciliation and be positive for all citizens of shíshálh territory and support strong forestry partnerships.”

Quick Facts:

  • In addition to the foundation agreement, a land-transfer agreement provides details on how existing land interests will be managed once the land is transferred and establishes a process for matters requiring further discussion.
  • This foundation agreement builds on a government-to-government agreement signed in 2016, which formed the basis for longer-term reconciliation negotiations to address the interests of both the shíshálh Nation and B.C. in a number of areas, including forestry, revenue sharing and shared decision making.
  • In addition to the government-to-government agreement signed in 2016, B.C. and shíshálh also signed a forestry term sheet and a reconciliation agreement.
  • shíshálh Nation is located on the Sechelt Peninsula of the Sunshine Coast, 50 kilometres northwest of Vancouver.

Learn More:

shíshálh Nation: www.shishalh.com/

View a copy of the shíshálh Nation Foundation Agreement: ow.ly/tAka30m5vPD