Is that the sound of a whip we hear in the distance?

Since provincial New Democrats are generally supportive of the Campbell administration's New Relationship with British Columbia's First Nations, one could reasonably assume Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Tom Christensen would get through his estimates debate rather easily. In fact, Opposition critic Scott Fraser even said "I did express to the minister that I would not be obstructive if I saw true relationship-building and reconciliation." Thank goodness then for Liberal Bulkley Valley-Stikine backbencher Dennis MacKay.

During his pointy line of questioning earlier this week, Mr. MacKay asked whether government business loans to aboriginal bands were being re-paid, why the Nisga'a were being allowed access to those loans, seemed to suggest treaty negotiations in the Queen Charlottes could destroy the forest industry on the island and wondered aloud if First Nations had more of a say over land development decisions in rural areas than they would in urban areas. The following is Hansard's complete transcript of Mr. MacKay and Minister Christensen's exchange.


D. MacKay: I apologize if my questions are going to be a little bit disjointed this evening, but I had an awful time finding information on this new ministry that has been created, given the fact that part of it was under the Ministry of the Attorney General before, and I had to go into his ministry and the treaty negotiations office as well as to CAWS to get some of the questions.

The questions that I do want to ask this evening are questions that I'm interested in. As well, I'd like to get some answers to the many phone calls and queries I've had from different parts of my riding as well as the Queen Charlotte Islands. People on the Queen Charlotte Islands have phoned me and asked me to ask a few questions about this new ministry.

With that, I would like to thank all the members of your staff that are with you this evening for the time that they have put into the ministry and the time they are going to spend tonight being able, hopefully, to answer some of the questions that I would like to put to you. I will try to be quick, because I understand there are a lot of people who would like to talk to you tonight.

With that, I wonder if the minister could tell me: how many bands are actually in the treaty process today, and how many are outside the process?

Hon. T. Christensen: I apologize for the delay. It seems like a simple question, and it's actually not a simple question. It depends on how you…. Well, here's the challenge. There are 198 bands in British Columbia recognized by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. About 70 percent of the overall bands are actually involved in the treaty negotiation process. The Treaty Commission counts those as 57 first nations, so a first

nation may include one or more bands. Those 57 first nations are negotiating at 47 different negotiation tables. That leaves about 30 percent of the bands in the province that are not involved in the treaty negotiation process — so approximately 60.

D. MacKay: I understand the difficulty in coming up with an exact number, so I appreciate that answer. I'm going to go to the ministry service plan, under the treaty negotiations office on page 7, where it talks about full-time-equivalents, direct FTEs, for negotiations. This is on page 7. It shows 81 FTEs, and then it goes down in the same box and includes treaty settlement implementation costs, and it shows seven. Are we talking apples and oranges here? To me, it looks like we've got 81 FTEs, and then we talk about seven for treaty settlement implementation costs.

Hon. T. Christensen: I suspect the member is looking at a previous year's service plan, as opposed to the one that was published in September, which brings everybody into the new Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. So I may not be able to exactly understand the question.

As I understand it, there were 88 FTEs that used to be dedicated to or classified as treaty negotiations. Those comprised FTEs that were directly involved in the actual treaty negotiations side of things, but it also included FTEs that were involved in treaty implementation. We don't include them any longer as part of treaty negotiations; that's my understanding.

D. MacKay: Again, I'm going to refer to that same sheet. I'm a bit confused here. We talk about the treaty settlement implementation costs. In the year '04-05 we spent $16.967 million. In '05-06 it dropped down to $3.589 million, and then in '06-07 it drops down to $1.029 million and is ongoing. Is that the cost of the Nisga'a treaty, and if so, is it ongoing?

Hon. T. Christensen: Essentially, the figure drops quite dramatically from '04-05 to '05-06 because the number in '04-05 was a number that was based on an anticipated need for the acquisition of lands and treaty negotiations. Those funds actually didn't end up being needed, so the '05-06 number is a more up-to-date estimate of what is expected to be sufficient for Nisga'a capital transfer and other payments as well as some acquisition of land that may be required for treaty settlements. So if we find partway through the year that we're getting further along in some of the treaty negotiations than initially anticipated, we would need to go back to Treasury Board and seek additional dollars to proceed with that.

D. MacKay: To follow up on that, then, when we go out to '06-07 and '07-08, is the $1.029 million the actual cost to the province for Nisga'a? Where in this budget do I find what the cost is for Nisga'a?

Hon. T. Christensen: As we get out to '06-07 and '07-08, the $1.029 million is wholly for Nisga'a. One would expect that, again, as we go through this year, if we identify that we anticipate there will be additional land acquisition costs due to other treaties, those numbers would then adjust going forward.

D. MacKay: They would adjust upwards? Thank you. Again, now, flipping over the page to accountability on page 8, we talk about accountability: being accessible and responsive to our partners and stakeholders, measuring and reporting on our performance at all levels. This is the province's responsibility to the taxpayers.

My question to the minister is: what accountability levels have we built into the treaty process for the native bands that are getting funds from the province to make sure that those moneys are being spent and spent wisely and all the band members are benefiting from those moneys? What accountability provisions have we provided for?

Hon. T. Christensen: There are a number of different levels of accountability, depending on what is happening. In terms of any ongoing funding through the fiscal financing arrangements, which are separate agreements, those agreements themselves would really provide contractual accountability in terms of the expectations around those dollars. In terms of the overall operation within the treaty and the governance within the treaty, the accountability is through the democratic process that's provided for election of the Nisga'a government under the terms of the treaty.

D. MacKay: I mention that because I'd like to refresh the minister's memory about the Wet'suwet'en treaty process that just recently saw two of the negotiators find themselves looking for different employment opportunities after having spent $10 million during the treaty process. I'm not really sure what they accomplished during that process while they were negotiating on behalf of the Wet'suwet'en. The Wet'suwet'en now have a $10 million liability, and I'm not sure what they have to show for it.

That was the reason I asked about what accountability provisions we have applied here. Is this money forgiven if they ask for it down the road, or is it, in fact, a loan that we expect to get back when the treaty is signed off?

Hon. T. Christensen: In terms of the ongoing negotiations, those are loans. They're administered through the B.C. Treaty Commission process. As the member likely knows, the B.C. Treaty Commission is vested with the responsibility of keeping the process in terms of the ongoing treaty negotiations and is responsible for administration of those loans. But it is a loan.

D. MacKay: Are there examples of where those loans have been forgiven, and do we expect that we will forgive any of those loans in the future that are being provided as this process drags on and on and on?

Hon. T. Christensen: To be clear, the funding that's provided for negotiations to first nations is 80 percent loans, 20 percent grants, but it's all administered through the B.C. Treaty Commission process. The province shares in the grant portion, a 60-40 split with the federal government. The 80-percent loan portion is wholly federal funds, and certainly, it's our understanding that the federal government doesn't intend to forgive any part of those loans.

D. MacKay: I wonder if the minister could explain why the province is providing any money for the treaty process, given the fact that the natives are a federal responsibility. It was my understanding that the province was to provide land for treaty negotiations, so why is the province providing outright grants to this process?

Hon. T. Christensen: Since this process began - and granted, it was a number of years ago now - there was a 1993 cost-sharing memorandum of understanding between Canada and British Columbia with respect to the loans and the grants. It was under that memorandum of understanding that the province committed to sharing in the cost of the grants. Our share is 40 percent relevant to the federal government's 60 percent, and it's reflective of our ongoing commitment to the treaty negotiation process in terms of our continuing agreement with that memorandum of understanding.

D. MacKay: I'm looking at page 10 of the treaty negotiation service plan, and it talks about the percentage of B.C. Crown land covered by certainty agreements. On the bottom there are a couple of appendices that I want to read that cause me concern. They also have created some concern for people in the Queen Charlotte Islands in the northern part of the province as it relates to the land mass that's involved in the treaty process.

It says that, calculated as of March 31, 2004, the base figure for the amount of Crown land covered by certainty arrangements is 59.364 million hectares. It includes all certainty agreements across government. For 2004-2005, it is estimated that 14.57 percent of Crown land will be covered by Nisga'a treaty agreements-in-principle and operational certainty arrangements, and 18.75 percent will be covered by Treaty 8 for an overall total of 33.32 percent. Is that the total of the B.C. land mass that is tied up in those two treaties?

Hon. T. Christensen: We are having some difficulty following, because the member, I think, is working with the treaty negotiations office service plan from last February, and we're actually working with the September budget update, which is a whole new service plan. Certainly, we can get that to the member. It might make it easier for us to follow along.

In respect of the goal of increasing certainty and having certainty arrangements that apply in respect of Crown land, it includes agreements beyond treaties, so certainly it does include the Nisga'a treaty. It also includes Treaty 8 lands. It includes forest and range agreements and the extent to which those provide certainty over the land base. It includes land that is proposed for treaty through the agreements-in-principle. So there is a range of different agreements at play that provide additional certainty.

D. MacKay: As I stated at the start of my questions, I apologize because I'm going to be jumping around here, because I wasn't able to find the document that you are referring to. I am working from the TNO and the CAWS service plans. So I apologize for the confusion, but I still have to ask the question.

Given the percentage of land that was mentioned in the document that you don't have — 34 percent of Crown lands — causes me some concern, I want to know: are we talking about 34 percent of provincial Crown lands currently tied up under two treaties? Because we have got lots left.

Hon. T. Christensen: No, we're not. It is a range of other certainty tools that provide for that larger number.

D. MacKay: Again I apologize to the minister. Under the TNO office it talked about the negotiated agreements reflecting the referendum principles. Starting at '04-05 it shows that 100 percent of our work is going to be directed and in compliance with the referendum questions through '07-08. Can I ask the minister: was there any change in the process we are going through that will not comply 100-percent with the referendum principles that were signed-off on two years ago?

Hon. T. Christensen: No.

D. MacKay: I'm now going to refer to Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services. Again I apologize to the minister for this, but one of the questions I have that caught my attention under the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services deals with aboriginals. It talks about the number of aboriginal businesses created or sustained by the FCF business loan program. In '04-05 we talk about 150 in total. In '05-06 it's 150 in total, and it goes through '07-08 — 150 in total. Is this all that is being provided for through this time period — just 150 businesses? Or do they fluctuate year by year?

Hon. T. Christensen: No, those numbers are incremental, so the terms of the loans vary. But the intention in terms of the performance measure is to support an additional 150 businesses in each year.

D. MacKay: Thank you to the minister for that answer. It also talks at the bottom here about, "Forty percent of the businesses and jobs supported by the First Citizens Fund business loan program represent new business startups and new jobs," and it talks about: "The amount of money will actually vary from year to year, depending on the loan size." To me, a loan is money that's got to be paid back. I guess I'd like to ask the minister: are those loans in fact being repaid to the lenders?

Hon. T. Christensen: The program has been in place since 1988. In that time frame since then the default rate has been about 11 percent.

D. MacKay: Would 11 percent reflect the success rate of these businesses that the funding is being provided for? What is the success rate of those businesses?

Hon. T. Christensen: Eighty-nine percent of the businesses have successfully paid out the loan. I'm not sure if the member's looking for something beyond that.

D. MacKay: No, what I am looking for is accountability for the money that's being provided to these startup businesses. I just want to get some idea of how successful the businesses are — is the money being well spent? If the minister is telling me…. I think you said 89 or 90 percent. That, to me, would indicate it has been a success, and I'm pleased to hear that.

Now I'm going to jump around to the part of the ministry you have been charged with, and that is the consult and accommodate. I would refresh your memory on the Taku River Tlingit decision from the Supreme Court of Canada. There was no accommodation or compensation required. The Supreme Court of Canada said that the province had in fact consulted with the Taku River and dismissed their action. However, it was different for the Haida.

Now I'm going to take you to the Queen Charlotte Islands because this is where I'm getting the questions from. Does the minister have any idea how much land is actually tied up in federal parks on the Queen Charlotte Islands? We're finding more and more land is being removed from the forest industry over there. Soon there is not going to be a forest industry left on the island because more and more trees and land mass are being put into protected areas, and soon the forest industry as we know it on the Queen Charlotte Islands is going to cease to exist. I wonder if the minister has any thoughts on what's happening on the Queen Charlotte Islands as far as the forest industry is concerned.

I do know that a lot of the natives over there actually make their livelihood from the forest industry, and we have one particular group that seems to want to capture more and more land into protected area, which basically removes what little land there was left for harvesting wood. It removes it from the land base as well, given the massive federal parks we have there. I wonder if you would care to comment on that?

Hon. T. Christensen: As the member knows, there is a host of challenges in terms of the Queen Charlotte Islands. That is nothing new, quite frankly. We are involved in discussions with the Haida to try and ensure that we are meeting the province's consultation obligations and determining what obligations may exist in respect of accommodation, but it is fair to say that there are significant competing interests at play on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

We are in consistent and regular discussions with the Ministry of Forests, and they're certainly well involved in the ongoing discussions around land use on the Queen Charlotte Islands and how we can move forward to try and bring a greater degree of certainty for everybody that lives and works there.

D. MacKay: I would just like to preface my next comment about the fact that the ministry staff in mining and forestry, independent power production, the people that are involved in those do a great…. The ministry staff does a great job of consulting with the native bands in those areas that are looking to expand employment opportunities, not just for the people in the lower mainland, but more particularly for those native bands that are placed in these remote parts of our province. We are finally getting some employment opportunities out there for them to get them out of that 90 to 95 percent unemployment rate, and we do a great job of consulting with them.

There are some roadblocks that are put up quite often. It delays things almost to the point where I sometimes get the impression they actually have a veto power over the province as we develop public policy to allow development to take place throughout our province. I would like to ask the minister what native bands actually have traditional territory in the greater Vancouver area? How many bands are involved and what bands are they in the greater Vancouver area, if you could just give me a couple of names?

[R. Cantelon in the chair.]

Hon. T. Christensen: I do want to preface this by saying it is not an exhaustive list, but just off the tops of our heads certainly there are a number of first nations in the lower mainland: Musqueam First Nation; the Tsleil-Waututh, sometimes known as the Burrard band; Squamish First Nation; Tsawwassen First Nation; the Katzie First Nation; the Kwikwetlem First Nation. Those are a number of them.

D. MacKay: That leads me to my next question. Given the fact that, when any development takes place in northern British Columbia, it's mandatory that we consult and accommodate and compensate where necessary, what accommodation and what consultation takes place in the greater Vancouver area whenever we build a new highrise, whenever we expand the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre? What consultation and what accommodation were made with the native bands in the Greater Vancouver area as we see these developments take place?

Hon. T. Christensen: The obligation to consult arises in respect of Crown lands. The practical reality in the lower mainland is that there aren't significant Crown lands. Where there are Crown lands, though, we do clearly have an obligation to consult, and we have a number of recent court decisions reinforcing that. The Musqueam First Nation, on at least two occasions that come immediately to mind, has been successful in arguing that the government has failed to fully meet its obligations to consult and accommodate, where the courts have referred the government back to working with the Musqueam to try and come to terms. We're working hard at that. If that fails, the courts have put time limits in place where we'll find ourselves back before them, but we are working hard to avoid that.

There are also examples where first nations in the lower mainland have entered into agreements and have been accommodated in respect of their rights-and-title interest. With the Tsawwassen, for example, there's a very significant agreement between the port authority and Tsawwassen — the Roberts Bank agreement. Certainly those obligations arise. In an urban context they are perhaps not as obvious and frequent, but there's no question that the obligation still exists there.

D. MacKay: I have to question that last statement just somewhat. Living in rural British Columbia, I'm aware of several instances where private property was in fact subject to consultation and accommodation, where people who owned private property sought to have zoning bylaws changed, tried to sell private property within the Gitxsan traditional territory, and it involved consultation with the native band.

What you are telling me is that on the lower mainland it is not necessary to consult or accommodate if it's private land; however, there have been instances in northern British Columbia where that is not the case. If it's private land, they've actually had to consult with the native bands to change a zoning bylaw for private property. That's the reason I bring that up. I wonder if the minister is familiar with any of those cases?

Hon. T. Christensen: No, I'm not familiar with any of those cases, so if the member can provide additional details to my office, I'm happy to look at that and try to figure out what is happening.

D. MacKay: I take it, then, from that answer that if I run into that problem again, I can phone ministry staff, and the issue will be resolved. I'm hoping it will be resolved quickly, because it has delayed a number of projects in my riding.

I'd like to just ask you about the First Citizens Fund. What is the value of the First Citizens Fund today in dollars? And what is the process for native bands to access funds through the First Citizens Fund?

Hon. T. Christensen: The current balance of the First Citizens Fund is $72.359 million. As the member likely knows, we don't spend the principal of the fund. It is the interest from the fund that is spent on an annual basis. That's budgeted this year at $4.2 million.

That funding is distributed to a number of programs, and it is those programs that are administered by a number of different aboriginal organizations, which individual aboriginal groups or first nations would apply to, to access the funding. For example, there's a business loan program. There's the friendship centre program; the student bursary program; the elders transportation program; and the First Peoples Heritage, Language and Culture Council, which administers aboriginal language programs.

D. MacKay: For the information of those waiting to ask questions, I have just a couple more, and I'll be done. The First Citizens Fund. I wonder if the minister could tell me if Nisga'a has access to that fund?

Hon. T. Christensen: As a general rule, Nisga'a has access to any provincial programs, except those that are expressly funded through a fiscal financing agreement that's in place with them pursuant to the treaty. If it's already covered by the treaty, then they're precluded from participating, but otherwise, they can apply to funds of general application for aboriginal groups.

D. MacKay: That begs the question, then, minister, of the fact that Nisga'a has a treaty. They are now an independent nation within British Columbia. We've provided them with forest lands so they can be self-sustaining. They have access to the fishing in the river. A lot of them are commercial fishermen. They are now an independent nation.

Is the province granting them access to the First Citizens Fund, which is designed to help those native bands through some employment opportunities? Why do we allow Nisga'a access to this fund?

Hon. T. Christensen: The programs that are funded through the First Citizens Fund have been designed as programs of general application for aboriginal people in British Columbia. There isn't, at a practical level, a significant uptake in terms of the Nisga'a. Similarly, those first nations that are parties to the Douglas treaties or to Treaty 8 can also apply for that funding. It's intended to be funding of general application available for aboriginal peoples in the province.

D. MacKay: I have two questions, and I'll be finished. I want to ask the minister about roadblocks and blockades of developments taking place in northern British Columbia and the purpose of them. The province has a process in place to provide for development. It's a rather lengthy, onerous process for companies to proceed with development. We issue all the permits to the proponent, the developer, and then we have roadblocks set up by some people who are unhappy with development that is taking place and providing employment opportunities for them.

You may not be able to answer this, but why is it we always ask the proponent to go to court for an injunction and an enforcement order, when in fact the province is the one that's issuing the permits in the first place, telling all these developers: "This is your opportunity to go develop the property. However, there's a catch. You may run into some roadblocks"? If we as a province don't start doing something on that issue, we're going to see the developers leave our province, and they're going to go elsewhere with their money to develop employment opportunities, particularly in these remote parts of the province. I wonder if the minister would care to comment on that?

Hon. T. Christensen: I recognize the member's frustration and the frustration that the people in different parts of the province face when blockades are in place. I'm not going to hazard an answer to the member's question. I think it is better directed to the Attorney General, who will have legal staff with him, presumably, to provide an accurate answer at the time he's in estimates, because there are a number of factors at play.

D. MacKay: Time precludes me from carrying on my discussion with the minister. I would again like to thank the minister and the staff for their patience and forbearance as I waded through. I look forward to this new supplement that the minister spoke about, so I don't have to go through this exercise as I just did.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the time, and thank you to the opposition members for allowing me to butt in.


I wish Liberal MLA's would be this vocal around the sale of BC Rail, BC Hydro, Terasen and other onerous infractions on the sustainibility of BC's crown assets. I guess its easier to stomach our power supply in the hands of an ex enron exec, than those pesky natives taking control of their traditional lands.

"pesky natives"???

hmmm... not sure how to read the above.

Are you saying... the Prov Liberals have trouble relating to aboriginals - who are trying to hold on to their aboriginal title - but no trouble relating to Enron execs?

Eugene, do you do anything but post mindless comments on gossip sites all day?

no... :-)


being online is my job


So you track casino trending when not pissing people off with your uninformed opinions?


EP may well piss people off but he is not uninformed. That's what is ticking off so many in the Octagon..he's too well informed for their liking.

t five first nations is having one right about now here in Victoria.

Maybe the critic and the minister should show up and learn what's going on.

A lot of the stuff the MLA was asking the shiny new minister would have been apparent if this government when first elected had not put all the policy papers away from public view.
There has been an account going back to Vanderzam. It was called"The first citizens account" where profits made from the origional amount was shipped out to assist assorted first nations business ventures.

As for who is in what stage of the process, a quick look at the Treaty Commission web site puts it all in perspective. I don't blame the MLA for asking but I do think the official critic should have a better handle on things than he appears to have.

We used to have Regional Advisory Committes thoughout this province, as well as Treaty Advisory Committees as well as TNAC. Such stuff was known at that time, by anyone with any sort of interest.

Treaty main table meetings were not overly crowed by observers. Some side tables were open to the public but very few showed up.
a very few of us attended many of those events and asked lots of questions and got good answers.

The RACs disappeared with the New Era gangs arrival, TAC's seemed to get smaller and TNAC was a weird operation from the start.

One hopes the Offical opposition pulls up her or his socks in a hurry.
as one who has supported treaty processes since the process was origionally opened to the public by Mike Harcourt, I find it difficult that a critic or any other opposition MLA was sort of in the dark.

Nomatter how often you repeat it, Terasen is not a crown asset.

Note that this was NOT the Opposition critic whose grasp of the treaty negotiations is shaky. MacKay is a Liberal backbencher who seems to be having difficulty getting clear, direct information from his own party.

Ironic, eh? The public has trouble getting direct information from them, too.

If you want to figure out what is going on around such issues, try watching Voice of BC,of yesterday which repeats a couple of times. Palmer asked the shiny new minister why the new reconsiliation process wasn't discussed prior to the election,when they had a position paper on the subject. Gosh golly we simple couldn't as we didn't have time prior to the election for the cabinet to get together. Since they knew the eelction date four years ago that is a bit hard to swallow. They threw a lot of bucks that way and they didn't tell anyone before the election because a lot of their supporters don't believe the fisty nations people deserve anything and they needed those folks to vote for the New Era Gang. Pretty simple actually. Gosh, Isn't BC polictics grand!!

I only got around to watching the first couple of minutes of the program, but taped it, who knows what other revelations will be in the rest of the one hour program.
The way I see it, the gang had a massive majority the first time around and simply got too lazy to be up to speed on their new ministries.

Why are the Haida negotiating over the Queen Charlotte Islands?

There is no treaty... the islands should belong to the Haida and Canada should be giving $$ for all the resources taken without compensation.

"Why are the Haida negotiating over the Queen Charlotte Islands?

There is no treaty... the islands should belong to the Haida and Canada should be giving $$ for all the resources taken without compensation."

Even if one were to accept this interesting proposition, the exact amount of money that would be handed over would have to be determined by negotiations between the parties.

I read the question" why are the Haida negotiating over the Queen Charloote Islands".

I certainly don't speak for any of the three parties involved. but maybe I can shed a bit of light in that direction.

2. It's good to see some people are actually coming aware of the processes that have been around for a large number of years.

When the BC Treaty system was started the assorted first nations were asked to identify their traditional territory. With overlaps that covered all of BC.

3. In the treaty process the assorted first nations have to solve the overlaps by them selves. That is not that simple as some first nations have split up over time. So who would get what if anything?

4. The Supreme Court of Canada has told the parties that there are two ways to prove Title to the land.

a) Prove it in court which would be most difficult even though oral history has now been allowed in first nation cases( which brings us back to overlaps. Hey it's mine, no it's not it's ours)

b) Negotiate.That way the bundle of rights will each be resolved as they go through the process. and almost all of the dreaded Indian Act will disappear.

4. Around 30 percent of the first nations in BC are against the treaty process and chose to spend a lot of money and a great amount of time in assorted courts.It's their right to do so, a little extra interpretation by a court brings more court cases. For quite a long time, if a first nation went to court, treaty negotiations were suspended for the duration of the case.

5. There are a number of land claims being worked on outside the treaty process. Lots of Interim measures, and attempts to sort out Capacity problems as well. Capacity is a real big deal as it takes time to be trained enough to run things. Things that have taken non first nations a large number of years to develop systems by trail and error. Legislation changes after court decisions say it's wrong.

So it's sort of a toss up. Spend a lot of time and money hoping a court will agree with at least part of what you want, or get down to a negotiations table and sort it out.

It isn't just the Haida.

One more little item.

6. In BC there are 14 tiny treaties called The Douglas Treaties, they are in and around Vancouver Island, but not all of Vancouver Island. Seems Douglas ran out of money doing the job, couldn't get any more so at least two first nations close to Victoria were on some list and it never got done. There always seems to be a list.

These comments I'm putting down have a lot more words than any of the Douglas Treaties. They are almost identical word for word.

There is a overlap treaty between parts of North East BC and on into Alberta.

There are groups negotiating that cross BC into the Yukon as well.

The words "fish as formerly" in Douglas has spent a lot of time in courts and at numerous meeetings. Just what does it mean exactly?
as I said at the top. I don't speak for any of the parties but did spend a lot of time follwing the treaty system as a third party interest group rep. for non first nations people living on land set aside, which no matter what anyone tells you is still federal land.


The "as formerly" provisions are awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in a case called R. v. Morris and Olsen. Decision should be delivered in the coming months.

a common theme of this book is that certain sections of the Indian Act are so obscure or ambiguous that they are unworkable. That the Senate and House of Commons continue to draft and enact such legislation, apparently unconscious of the problems cause for the people who must work with it, is distressing.

Another problem around fish is the B.C Terms of Union.It's been argued at the top court as to whether the "Terms" place a limit on federal legislative power with respect to fishing. And that one goes back to 1980. There have been too many court cases and too much money spent on such things. Go find a table folks and negotiate.

ad of books like
Jack Woodwards. Native Law. He says" a common theme of this book is that certain sections of the Indian Act are so obscure or ambiguous that they are unworkable. That the Senate and House of Commons continue to draft and enact such legislation, apparently unconscious of the problems cause for the people who must work with it, is distressing.

anotehr problem around fish is the B.C Terms of Union.It's been argued at the top court as to whether the "Terms" place a limit on federal legislative power with respect to fishing. And that one goes back to 1980. Too many court cases too much time. Go find a table and negotiate


It has been difficult for indigenous people to negotiate when the other side has taken the position that aboriginal title (property and jurisdictional control) simply does not exist. Or as also in the past, when title has been traded for benefits, the benefits have not been forthcoming. However, as the BC government via Tom Christensen now states, "aboriginal title exists" and both parties are here to stay, there is the possibility for reconciliation and negotiation.

Despite what extremist say, aboriginal title does exist. What is under discussion is the extent of the boundaries of that title - both physical and conceptual.

The " certain rights" are not well defined, they certianly arn't right now. But then again they didn't say it didn't exist.They said as I nentioned earlier. Two ways to establish title rights. Litigate or negotiate with negotiations being the prefered route.

In treaty negotiations the Indian Act is replaced by some sensible ways of doing things.

Small lines in the Act such as" any agreement written or oral by an Indian is not legal( sect 28)and we wonder, as the senate is now discovering in their tour around the country, find that first nations businesses are having a real tough time getting moving without being tied to a non first nation company that can borrow money, some of whom soon have the upper hand, and who often don't accpet the idea of DIANDS weird leasing arangements, that even parts of DIAND don't understand.

But at presenent Locatees hold possession but don't own the land. BOyer and the qaueen said The locatee doesn't need band approvalto do things, but the federal appeals sort of shot that down in the Cylsdale estates case, when they ruled the DIAND lease was illegal and backdated.

The bands don't own the land , the Federal government does. That isn't going away by any of us saying it's unfare. The Candian Human Rights is now being argued for change as certain sections ( I believe it's 67 but not sure) makes it tough for women to argue they are being discriminated against.

We could go on and on as people have been doing every since Discovery, but would it prove much? Not really. Modern treaties will and courts are simply too slow and are very narrow in their decisons. Narrow as is, this is a point and its yes or no. Now what the next point and on and on. The cost not including the misery is huge.

"The bands don't own the land , the Federal government does. That isn't going away by any of us saying it's unfare."

You are mistaken. At best/worse Federal jurisdiction is encumbered by treaty. The SC recognizes this fact and that is why it frequently rules against the Federal government. The Federal government does not have free title over aboriginal title.

More profoundly, the case for unencumbered sovereign aboriginal title is in dispute… but not without historical evidence. See legislation barring aboriginals the vote based on the presumed fact that they were of a separate sovereign principality.

Don't hang your hat on the barring of aboriginals from voteing. That went away just as women couldn't vote, and other minorities couldn't vote, including the Chinese who were born here as well.

Yes there are a number of numbered treaties, and yes a lot of folks figured the Indian got the short end of the stick but there is a lot of BC that has no treaties as I mentioned before.

During the time this dance is going on, resources are leaving, the reserves are being overcrowed with non- first nation people with leases, many of which are not considered by the federal government Yet all of those people were there by invitation. and of course the Federal scheme of self taxation was put in to collect taxes from those occupiers and the bands exempted themselves from such awful thigns as taxes. so when the road or the sewer needs fixing, guess who pays?

And yes the Surpeme Court has ruled against governments on some points, and some folks immediatly assume that it's open season in parks and other crown land. A guy named Millgard, caught a few eels, went all the way to the Supreme Court which gave a narrow interpetation and had to write an explanation as guy started hitting the woods with chain saws half way across the country.
Ask Mrs Van Piet who won the fish case that ran up to the Supreem Court. a half dozen fish sold illegally and it took years of peoples lives to find yes it was illegal.

There are numerous Supreme Court decsisions that don't hit the federal government and many attempted appeals the Supreme Court will not allow. Let's look at some of them . We could talk about the cases for months.

For example, the guys on the east coast who wouldn't pay provincial taxes on stuff delivered to a reserve. Which as we both know is pretty common occurance. The Supreme Court ruled that they would pay provincial sales taxes on those things.

In the mean time guys trying to one up each other as families do without, due to lack of funds.
HOuses start to look like shacks and people get sick from moulds from lousy construction and repair practices.

You can disagree with anything I write but in the end you will have to admit the Courts in this country are pretty powerful. The Constitution and the BNA Act before it said the feds. are to look after Indians. They don't do a very good job a lot of the time. So let's get out there and sort it out in negotiations so your grandkids won't be arguing the same stuff.

The Colts and the Pats are on in a few... so I'll be brief. :-)

Saying "they win some and the feds win some" does not get to the principle of why indigenous people win cases. Selectively ignoring some data and favouring other allows one to ignore the full set of principles at work. The practice creates a poor foundation for comprehensive understanding.

Indigenous people win cases because the feds do not have free title over aboriginal title. Aboriginals title exists, is recognized by provincial, federal, and international courts.

I hope you will ponder more carefully why it is that all levels and jurisdictions of the courts accept its existence... and why it is defined as minimally an encumbrance on federal jurisdiction.


well EP, I guess you figure spending the next thirty years or so in courts getting the odd win is worth all the time effort and somebody elses money is the way you want to see things happen.

In the meantime the reserves are getting crowded, jobs are few and far between People are living in shacks in some places, so folks are getting sick. If that's the way you like to see things, well I guess it's not much sense telling you anything you don't want to hear. Like why are 70 percent of first nations in BC, including some with the skimpy Douglas Treaties in place at assorted tables.

when you are bored with arguing that you have rights so that's the way it goes, try checking the courts at every level and wonder why with a 5 percent approx. of the general population as status and no status Indians that the great number of those in those courts and in jail are first nation folks. YOu say the first nations didn't have the right to vote. Well how do you feel about the many reserves in BC full of non first nations occupiers who still can't vote on things that directly affect them. The Royal Commission co-chairs had a few words about that, but of course tyou have never read those words. They saidm if you are subject to first nation laws and taxation you must have directy meaningful input on such things. Those people don't and as long as there are no treaties and the Indian act stays in place they never will. Way back when the Magna Carta talked about such things. Here we are in 2005 and some folks don't have those basic rights.

And some folks wonder why so many other folks simply tune out the small groups of disenters who feel the Indian owns the place when in fact under the present constition of this place, the fed does. Enogh of this. I hope you eventually will understand the rest of the country owes you nothing but if youn hang around a reserve for your whole life, DIAND will give ou the minimum of what they figure they want to give you. Negotiate a better set of conditions for the up and coming children.


What you need to see is that our home Canada is more than just a one Federally Owned State; it is a union of Metis, First Nations, Innuit, and Multi-lingual Provinces with relationships that have as yet not been fully defined and settled. It is our task as citizens to complete the union, not with the club of absolute conformity, but with principles of partnerships that can last. Our indigenous and aboriginal partners come to the table with aboriginal title as part of their inheritance. Our multi-lingual provinces come with centuries of other-hemispherical culture. Our task is to build a lasting partnership that respects and builds on what is brought to the table – not to attempt to steal and discredit.

As to your reference to the Magna Carta, it has at its core the concept of right of way… something NA’s indigenous people were granted very little of for nearly 400 years and even now on the very land under their feet people like you would deny them title even though the courts already acknowledge that it is theirs. A very sad and false position you take, which is simply summarized as this: "negotiate, but know you have no rights because someone else owns and controls all".

Like I said when we began, it is very hard to negotiate when the existence of aboriginal title is categorically denied or when title is traded for benefits but the benefits are not forthcoming. From your perspective, there is nothing to negotiate since no right exist, which is a truly sad shameful denial of the property rights of the very poorest of the poor. If your position were to continue to hold sway in popular opinion it will force aboriginals to simply hold on and hunker down for yet another generation and hope that somehow someway legal title will be someday be respected and be an unencumbered people.

DL, I think your approach of denial of rights is fraught unavoidable conflict leading to more suffering.

So you know, most of my family history has been different. My family was in Essex at the time of the Magna Carta – apparently some sort of gentry for 400 years… settled both the Island of Montreal and Ontario... fought for the British in both the American Revolutionary war and the war of 1812... contributed to the founding of our country... have notables in the family tree,... made peace with its indigenous people, fought in WWII... welcomed immigrants. Nevertheless, the only thing I claim for myself is the right to respect and the right to demand the same for others as well. Being Canadian runs at least 9 generations deep in me; what that means to me is respect for the North American that I am, respect for my home and native land, and for others and what is theirs as well – our common home Canada. Part of sharing Canada means giving some control to others.

No matter what you say and think. The Courts have ruled that there is two ways to prove title, litigate or negotiate.
I don't believe the Magan carta was written for some big wheels it was for everyone. But then again that's your opinion and in a democratic system you and I can both have opinions.

We lived on land set aside for over ten years. It's not hard to see who isn't getting part of the financial pie. It's not right of course but as long as there is no legal accountability such things won't change.

Everone has a number of generations in this country, including the Vikings who got here long before the modern explorers. I'm no viking but my family's great grandfather was the guy who looked after Sitting Bull and his crowd after they shot up Custer and moved north. He was the guy who took the same group back south as they were starving to death in Saskatchewan. Bull stated he wouod not go back with anyone else but he trusted Legaire.

We all have our little history story.

When first appointed to a Regional Advisory Council representing non first nation occupiers we were all asked what we hoped would happen to sort out the mess we all inherited.

My points were.
1. Greatly reduce the Indian Act's powers( nobody likes it, but each time someone tries the first nation leaders and a few politicians howl and the proposed changes don't happen)
The last victum was Nault.

2. Modern treaties with trust and respect for all the parties complete with legal framework.
all laws written by a first antion must be as good or better than provincial and federal laws.
( Aposition taken by the negotiators at every table I was ever at.( around 75 tables or so)

3. Status quo which will get us nowhere.

I wrote that about the time the first open treaty meeting ( Sechelt) was hapening and regional advisory committes were being set up

A few of us supported the modern process as we felt that if most of the public didn't give a damn, about the issues some us us would. Did we prove much, well a lot of groups are in step 4 amd 5 so I figure we were supporting the eventual winning horse. I still am convinced of that. as an aside let me add,that I have met a great number of hard working folks working at those tables and I sure wouldn't have missed any of it maybe I met you at some tables but your name doesn't ring a bell


No matter what you think or say the courts have already ruled that aboriginal title exists.

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