The Kitsumkalum and Kitselas First Nations have signed agreements that will bring economic and cultural benefits to B.C.'s Northwest, as well as marking a significant step forward in the treaty process.
The two First Nations, members of the Tsimshian First Nations Treaty Society
, have signed Incremental Treaty Agreements (ITAs) with the B.C. government that will create near-term economic opportunities in the community of Terrace and surrounding area, as well as offer lands for community and/or cultural purposes.
Kitsumkalum and Kitselas will own the lands in fee simple. They will remain under the jurisdiction of municipal government until a final treaty is reached with each First Nation. Post treaty, the ITA lands will become treaty settlement lands.
The signing of the ITA agreements follows the initialling of treaty Agreements-in-Principle (AIPs) by chief negotiators for Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, B.C. and Canada. The AIPs lay the framework for final negotiations toward legally binding treaties.
The next stage will be community votes in which Kitsumkalum and Kitselas members will vote on whether they wish to proceed with the AIPs. The ITA lands will be transferred following successful ratification of the AIPs by each of the communities.
Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong -
"Land is an important component of treaties and allows First Nations to plan far earlier than they would otherwise be able to. Incremental Treaty Agreements provide a key tool for First Nations to take advantage of economic and cultural opportunities in the shorter term, while laying the foundation for a treaty and providing greater certainty for the whole region."
Kitsumkalum Chief Donald T. Roberts -
"We've reached a crucial moment in our Kitsumkalum history and future. This signing of the Incremental Treaty Agreement will support Kitsumkalum in immediately regaining some of our land rights that we've striven to retrieve for decades. This is a chance for "Su-sit' Aatk" (a new beginning) of a mutually respectful relationship with the Province of B.C. Our negotiators will continue to work towards achieving what our community strives for - a push forward in positive development, economic growth and social progress. We look forward to continuing a healthy relationship with B.C."
Kitselas Chief Judy Gerow -
"I'd like to thank the provincial government for entering into this Incremental Treaty Agreement with Kitselas. This will provide a foundation for the rest of treaty negotiations and allows Kitselas the potential to begin developing our lands before final negotiations are completed. With these ITA lands, Kitselas will have the opportunity to expand and increase our ability to progress in our economic initiatives."
* ITAs provide benefits and create immediate opportunities to First Nations in advance of a final treaty while building trust between the parties, building momentum toward further milestones and providing increased certainty over land and resources.
* These benefits are considered an advance by B.C. of a portion of the provincial share of a future treaty settlement package.
* In 2011, B.C. signed Forest and Consultation Revenue-Sharing Agreements (FCRSAs) with both Kitsumkalum and Kitselas that allow the communities to see more direct economic benefits from harvest activities taking place in their traditional territory.
For more information on Incremental Treaty Agreements, visit:www.treaties.gov.bc.ca/itas.html
A backgrounder follows.
Kitsumkalum and Kitselas ITAs:
Under the terms of the Kitsumkalum ITA, the First Nation will receive two parcels of provincial Crown land, totalling approximately 148 hectares. Under the terms of the Kitselas ITA, the First Nation will receive three parcels of provincial Crown land, totalling approximately 250 hectares.
Both ITAs will support the BC Jobs Plan by increasing certainty and facilitating immediate development opportunities for the First Nations.
The Kitselas ITA lands will be used to anchor a partnership with the City of Terrace for industrial development adjacent to the Terrace Airport. The ITA also includes land parcels for community, cultural purposes and for recreational tourism.
Kitsumkalum has partnered with CN Rail to develop a spur line on one of the parcels that will expand their markets and support the expansion of an existing Kitsumkalum quarry operation. Housing will be built on the other land parcel.
Kitsumkalum and Kitselas AIPs:
The Kitsumkalum AIP includes provisions for approximately 44,809 hectares of provincial Crown land and a capital transfer of $44.2 million, once a final agreement is reached.
The Kitselas AIP includes provisions for approximately 35,090 hectares of provincial Crown land and a capital transfer of approximately $34.7 million, once a final agreement is reached.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Tsimshian First Nations Treaty Society