The BC treaty negotiations process is voluntary and open to all First Nations in British Columbia. Approximately half of BC First Nations are involved in BC Treaty Negotiations and as of 2017, four First Nations had signed a Final Agreement and completed all six stages of the process.
The treaty negotiations process is a framework for three parties – Canada, BC and First Nations – to work towards the common goal of reconciliation, and building a new relationship, through constitutionally entrenched government-to-government-to-government understandings.
Some of the major components integral to modern treaty making in British Columbia are:
• aboriginal rights
• land and resources
• financial issues
Funding for treaty negotiations is provided through loans from the Federal Government of Canada through the BC Treaty Commission.
As of March 31, 2017, the Treaty loan totals approximately $8 million. There are currently talks within the Federal Government about options for forgiving loan debts in terms of contribution agreements or infrastructure projects.
Kitselas also receives financial assistance from the BC Treaty Commission in the form of ‘Treaty Related Measures’ (TRM). Some TRMS need to be paid back to the government while others do not. The goal of TRMs is to support Kitselas in stages throughout the treaty process, for example, the pay for the cost of coordinating community meetings about specific treaty components such as the Constitution.
BC Treaty Commission
The Treaty Commission is the independent body responsible for facilitating treaty negotiations among First Nations in BC and the governments of Canada and BC. The Treaty Commission does not negotiate treaties — that is done by the three parties at each negotiation table.
The Treaty Commission’s primary role is to oversee the negotiation process to make sure that the parties are being effective and making progress in negotiations. In carrying out the recommendations of the BC Claims Task Force, the Treaty Commission has three roles: facilitation, funding and public information and education.
The BC Treaty Commission website has a ton of Information and resources about the BC Treaty Process. Here are some specific links to resources, but the entire website is very informative.