Treaty FAQs

General Questions

Q: What is a Final Agreement?
A: It is a Treaty. It is legally binding. The Agreement-in-Principle tells us what will likely be in the treaty, but it is not a legal document.

Q: What are Aboriginal Rights and Title?
A: Aboriginal Rights are the right to hunt, fish and gather, and any other rights we exercised historically, prior to the arrival of the Europeans.  Aboriginal title is ownership of the land that we can prove we have owned and occupied, exclusively.
Presentation: Aboriginal Rights to Treaty Rights

Q: What’s in it for the people – us?
A: Increased opportunities, ownership, improved services, control over your future, control of your education, ability to govern ourselves, freedom from the constraints of the ‘Indian Act’….

Q: How is the Kitselas Treaty different from the Nisga’a Treaty?
A: Kitselas only have Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) in place, while the Nisga’a have a Final Agreement. Both the Nisga’a Final Agreement and the Kitselas Agreement-in-Principle cover areas such as lands and resources, cash, self-government and fiscal arrangements. We have reviewed very closely what the Nisga’a have done, and we have been able to learn from them. The Nisga’a treaty includes ALL Nisga’a people whereas the Kitselas Treaty will not include all the Tsimshian, only the people of Kitselas. Also, the key element of our treaty, which is self-governance, will be very different. We will govern ourselves under our own Constitution, structuring our own government.

Q: Does belonging to another treaty prevent us from voting?
A: When the Final Agreement is ready, there will be a vote. For the Final Agreement, anyone of Kitselas ancestry, and all band members who have registered/enrolled themselves for the vote, may vote.  If a person is registered under another treaty they are not eligible to vote.  The vote on the Agreement-In-Principle will be open to all Kitselas band members.

Q: Are there jobs available?
A: Greater employment will likely be a direct spin-off of treaty making. We will have more land, more cash and more responsibilities. However, employment will also depend on economic development and other happenings in the region.  The Kitselas Council has recently hired an Employment Counsellor to assist members with finding and securing employment.

Q: Will Kitselas be able to hand out fines etc.?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you have a qualified Aboriginal lawyer?
A: We work with a number of different lawyers that specialize in different areas.  Our negotiations advisor is Mark Stevenson. Mark is a Métis lawyer with an extensive background in Treaty negotiations, Constitutional negotiations, and Aboriginal law.

Q: What does ‘consultation’ mean? 
A: The supreme court of Canada has ruled that the province of British Columbia must consult with First Nations on any development in their traditional territory.  The treaty will ensure that consultation will continue after treaty.  Kitselas receives a notice from the province requesting our comments or any concerns on development that take place and our Resource staff is responsible for responding. Obligation to consult with the Kitselas will actually increase as the Kitselas will be the legal owners of the Treaty Lands.  The Kitselas will have jurisdiction.  Right now ‘entities’, such as private businesses and industry, have to consult, but there is no requirement for them to address the concerns and issues.  That will change once the Kitselas have a legal claim over our lands.

Q: How are our Hereditary Chiefs and Matriarchs consulted and included in the process now and in the future? 
A: Our Elders began this process, and it is still their process.  The Kitselas Treaty Office respects our traditions.  In terms of decision making Kitselas have chosen a democratic approach, where all members are considered equal.  The people will make the final decision on the Final Agreement.

Q: How is information presented to off-reserve members (to ensure their full understanding)?
A: We need help from family members to reach individuals who live away from home (please encourage others to contact our office to provide updated contact information).  We plan trips to Prince Rupert and Vancouver, and locally. We will continue to correspond with members through mail outs, our website and social media.  Members who live in Terrace and Thornhill are always invited to attend any community functions taking place in Gitaus and Kulspai.

Cash

Q: What will be done with ‘treaty money’?
A: Modern treaties in BC do not follow the same practices as the numbered treaties in eastern Canada.  There is no ‘Treaty Day’ where members will receive money as part of our negotiations.  The Kitselas Government will decide how the cash settlement is used.  For example, other Nations have chosen to put the cash settlement into an investment account so it can grow.  It is important to remember that the Cash Settlement (also known as a Capital Transfer) is not intended to sustain the Nation.  Funding for existing programs, such as Social Assistance, Health and Education, will continue.

Q: How come they are talking about the money and how it will be spent?
A: Any discussions around money have been theoretical as examples of what could be done.  There is no specific plan yet for the capital transfer (a.k.a money), this will be the responsibility of the Kitselas government of the day when the time comes.

Q: Can and will the capital transfer be based on Kitselas toll-keeping history?
A: We have agreed that treaties will not impact on the right of the public to use navigable waters and the Skeena is considered navigable water.  The Kitselas are now working on a Taxation Law to charge other users for their occupation and use of Kitselas Reserve Lands.  This is separate from the Kitselas Treaty, but it is a way of receiving compensation for use of the land.  Our legal counsel has advised us that there is no way to reintroduce toll keeping in the Canyon as we did historically, but we will have more opportunity to ensure we are fairly compensated for use of our lands in the future.

Q: How does the band become a part of the ‘economic mainstream’ of Canada?
A: Kitselas will become the legal owners of the existing reserve lands and the additional land base as currently negotiated in the Agreement-In-Principle.  Land ownership will provide an opportunity for Kitselas members to have equity which in turn will open the possibilities of entrepreneurs to seek business loans and so forth. The Band will also not be the sole source of economic development. There will be more opportunity for private enterprise to operate on Kitselas lands.

Q: Can the cash settlement be used to pay off the programs currently operating in the red?
A: The cash settlement can be used in any way the Kitselas Government chooses.  However, program funding for existing services will continue and will not depend on the cash settlement.

Q: Instead of cash settlement, why not pay off houses?
A: The cash settlement is what is called discretionary funds, meaning it is not meant to cover the delivery of programs and services.  The Kitselas government will decide how the money is spent.  This could be something they consider.  Existing loans through CMHC will still need to be paid post-treaty.

Q: Where does the negotiation loan come from and how will it be paid if we vote ‘NO’?
A: The Kitselas, along with other Nations negotiating a treaty, receive a loan to cover the cost of negotiating a treaty.  The loan comes from Canada and BC through the BC Treaty Commission.  In the Spring of 2019, it was announced that loans will be forgiven. That means, Kitselas will no longer have to pay the money back.

Q: What is the immediate benefits package for Kitselas?
A: The Kitselas Government will decide whether to provide members with a benefits package. Some First Nations have decided to put together an individual member’s benefit package that includes the distribution of profits/dividends for their corporations, land and elders benefits. The Kitselas government has not yet decided what it will be doing.

Q: Will there be a bonus for the negotiators if the Kitselas vote ‘YES’ to the Final Agreement?
A: No.

Q: When does the cash settlement (also known as the Capital Transfer) come in and how will it be used?
A: The Capital Transfer is currently under negotiations.  The Kitselas will not likely receive all the money in one lump sum, rather the funds will be disbursed over the years.  These funds are discretionary – meaning they can be used in any way the Kitselas Government would like.  Funding for programs and services the Kitselas receive and will continue to receive post-treaty is separate.

Q: Will we pay sales tax?
A: Yes, all Status Indians pay sales tax now unless they are buying goods on-reserve or in some cases businesses will give tax exemption on larger items that are delivered on-reserve.  But the sales tax will go to Kitselas, if the items are purchase on treaty settlement lands, regardless if the purchase is from a member or a non-member. We will also try to negotiate an arrangement with the Crown to collect sales tax from members, off of Kitselas treaty settlement lands.

Q: Why should we pay taxes?  
A: The purpose of settling a treaty is to finally settle land claims and receive a fair deal from Canada and BC for the loss of our lands – this includes a cash settlement that can be used in any way the Kitselas government would like.  Kitselas will not need to use these funds to pay for programs and services that currently exist, these services will continue.  The taxes that Kitselas will pay will be coming back to the community as a source of ‘discretionary money’ – extra money that can be used in any way the Kitselas government would like.

Governance

Q: What does self-governance mean?
A: Negotiating a treaty offers one path towards self-governance and getting Kitselas out from under the Indian Act. Like other Native groups, the Kitselas were self-governing long before European contact. The Indian Act was passed in 1876 without the consultation or consent of the Native people. The Indian Act was developed to control almost every aspect of Native life and continues to dictate the way Native people are governed on-reserve. Self-governance will replace the Indian Act. It gives us the right to make laws, similar to the laws that provinces are able to make. It is also about setting up a government that is designed by the Kitselas people and approved by us. With self-governance, we will have more freedom to choose. The Kitselas people will be responsible for establishing a Constitution that will guide self-government.
Presentation: Understanding the Indian Act
Kitselas Treaty Booklet: Self Government 

Q: How will our government be structured?
A: The people themselves have the power to create their own government structure.  The government structure will be established in the Kitselas Constitution. The Constitution will only be approved through a full vote by the people of Kitselas.  The government structure is not part of the Treaty.  Work on the development of a Kitselas Constitution has begun and will require the Kitselas people to agree to the structure. The community will help develop the Kitselas Constitution.

Q: Where will we take our complaints if there are concerns with the Band Council or Office?
A:  The Kitselas Government will have to establish a process to address community concerns.  This will be addressed in our Constitution. The Constitution and the treaty will require that we set up a mechanism so that individuals can challenge the decisions and laws of the Kitselas government.

Q: Who will be making the laws?
A:  The Kitselas Government will make laws.  Right now the Kitselas government can create laws and by-laws under the authority of the Kitselas Reserve Land Management Act, but this relates primarily to land and does not cover key areas like education, children, language and culture and social matters. The Kitselas Government will have the ability to create many more laws post-treaty.

Q: What about nepotism (family favoritism)?
A:  The Kitselas will have a role in the development of their Constitution, the document that will outline how their government is structured and the rules associated with their government.  The Kitselas Constitution will include clauses such as ‘Conflict of Interest’, ‘Code of Ethics’ and so forth.  Our current Council and Staff is comprised of a number of different family groups in Kitselas.  Most people in Kitselas are related to each other.

Q: They should be helping with the social problems our people already have.
A: The Treaty Office’s role is to negotiate a treaty, not manage the social issues of the community, this is the role of the Kitselas Council.  The Administration continues to work toward delivering the programs we have as funded by Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and others.  Post-treaty the Kitselas will have the benefit of self-government, meaning they will have the ability to create programs and services the community needs as opposed to simply administering the programs to Aboriginal Affairs standards.  It will take some time, but a Treaty will create more opportunities for the Kitselas than can ever be possible under the Indian Act.

Q: Where will funding for various programs come from? 
A: The Federal Government will continue to fund all of our programs and services.  Kitselas will also have the ability to raise our own funds with our land resources (through taxation), revenue sharing agreements etc. We will also be able to charge ‘stumpage fees’ for the extraction of our timber on our lands.

Q: Will we have to pay for medical?
A: The general services we have now will continue, including the health benefits we currently receive.  Kitselas members will still have access to our public healthcare system.

Q: Will I have to take care of housing repairs on my own (if I have a Certificate of Possession)?
A: The general rule is that owners of homes are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep. After a treaty, unless it is social housing or a rental property, you will own your house. As owner, you will be responsible for the upkeep and repairs.  For social housing, the entity responsible for social housing (could be a Kitselas Housing Authority) will be responsible for upkeep.

Q: What will happen to social assistance after Treaty?
A: This service will continue.

Q: What happens to the cash payment for members who chose to stay out of the Treaty?
A:  Persons who do not register to be part of the treaty will not receive treaty benefits.

Q: Will we still have our ‘Indian Status’?
A:  Yes. Kitselas members will still be considered Indians within the meaning of the Canadian Constitution.  Our Aboriginal Rights as stated in section 35 of the Canadian Constitution will still exist.  However, we will no longer be governed by the ‘Indian Act’.  We will still receive the programs and services we do now.

Q: How will status work after treaty?
A:  If you are currently a status Indian, you will continue to be a status Indian. It is the Indian Act that governs status and not the treaty. While most of the Indian Act will be gone, some provisions will remain. The process for registration under the Indian Act will remain the same.  In terms of registering for Indian Status this will still be with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) as it is today.  After treaty, parents can enroll their children in the Kitselas Treaty to receive treaty benefits.  If they do not enroll their children they are not eligible for treaty benefits.  Children can always opt out of the treaty when they have reached the age of majority.

Q: Are there considerations as to the day-to-day realities of being self-governing?
A: Kitselas is working toward Self-Government. We have a lot of modern day examples of self-government successfully at work, such as the West Bank and Sechelt First Nations.  Kitselas has some self-governing powers now under the Kitselas Reserves Lands Management Act, but our powers are limited to what we can do with land management.

Q: Do we have Kitselas members with the capacity to fill the roles required to be ‘truly’ self-governing?
A: The Kitselas were self-governing prior to European contact and have proven to be a strong and resilient nation.  Our community is full of intelligent and dedicated people who are all capable of learning.   In terms of self-government the Kitselas will have a transition stage that will allow us to adapt to a new process.  The major change that will take place after a Treaty is the Kitselas will be able to create programs and services that meet our community needs rather than simply delivering programs and services to the standards of a third party (i.e. INAC).  Part of our plan for Self-government includes but is not limited to training and education.

Q: Key positions in government would be best served by individuals with at least a university degree in the respective fields.  If we were to get the AIP, would education directives be considered as to allow interested Kitselas members the opportunity to begin their educational requirements?
A: We continue to encourage all Kitselas members to further their education.  Funding is still available through the Post-Secondary Funding provided by INAC and accessible through the Education Department.  There are also new funding initiatives for trades training and certificate training through organizations like TriCorp or First Nations liaisons at various Post-Secondary institutes.  The newly hired Employment Counselor will also be able to assist members with their career goals.

Q: Will problem areas of existing Treaty Nations be examined so as to avoid these problems?
A: Yes, the Treaty negotiators have the benefit of learning from other treaties and have the benefit of knowing what works.   All of these treaty nations have indicated their willingness to share any information.

Lands

Q: Is there a map to show how much land we will take in the treaty?
A: Yes, the map is available to Kitselas members to view at the Treaty Office.  Land tours will also be taking place July and August 2012 – contact the Treaty Office for more info.

Q: Why settle for this parcel of land, why not go for more?
A: The lands we have negotiated are the full extent of the lands we can acquire at this time, during Final Agreement negotiations there may be opportunities to get more. Kitselas will also continue to have opportunities to work with local governments to negotiate benefits agreements such as the Airport Lands Joint Venture Agreement with the City of Terrace.  Kitselas members can also continue to acquire private lands if they choose, as is the case for any Canadian Citizen.

Q: We should be able to negotiate for all of our traditional territory.
A: We did negotiate for all of our traditional territory. But there are many parties that claim rights in our territory, including other First Nations, private property owners, industry, and the federal and provincial governments. That is why we need to negotiate. Negotiations need to resolve the interests of all parties.  We can still use the traditional territory and will continue to be consulted on developments on throughout the traditional territory.  The land offered as Treaty Settlement Lands will be owned outright by Kitselas.  The land outside of it we will still have access to and will have to be consulted as we are today.

Q: What is the percentage of the traditional territories included in the land offer?
A: The land offer including the Indian Reserves is approximately 5.6% of the Statement of Intent (SOI) area (Kitselas Traditional Territory). The Provincial Crown lands portion is approximately 5.4% of the SOI area.  The Provincial lands that will become Treaty Lands are 33 times larger than the current Reserves.

‘Statement of Intent’ is the area that was identified at the outset of treaty negotiations as the lands that would be negotiated.

Q: What lands are being leased, to who and for how long?
A:  The only reserve lands that are being leased right now are lands on the IR # 5 Zymoetz.  Terrace Paving is currently leasing and an agreement is pending.  The Regional District manages our Fire Hall on IR#1 (Gitaus).  The Kitselas Development Corporation is currently leasing the building on IR#6 – Kulspai.  The leasing of lands is not managed by the Treaty Office, it is managed by the Lands Department.

Q: What happens to land in Endudoon?
A:  As an existing reserve, Endudoon will be part of the Kitselas treaty settlement lands.  The Kitselas elders have indicated that the community not be changed or developed in the Land Use Plan and their wishes will be respected.  Existing owners will remain the owners.

Q: Has Ferry Island been looked at in land package?
A: Ferry Island is not available to be included in the land package.

Q: Are they going to be able to build on the lands offered?
A:  Yes, Kitselas lands will be open to development, however the details at this point are not certain as the Kitselas government will need to establish a land use plan for the Kitselas land base.  We will also have to enact a Kitselas development law that will determine how development can take place.   Any development that happens will have to follow both the Kitselas Land Use Plan developed by Kitselas members and any laws we enact around development.   We will need to move very cautiously on this and ensure there is community support for whatever development that may take place.

Q: How are the treaty and lands departments related?
A: Right now the lands management office is responsible for reserve lands only.  Once the Kitselas have treaty settlement lands the Lands Management Office will be important to ensure the new land base has a land use plan.  Right now the Lands Office is not a part of the treaty negotiation process.

Resources

Q: Commercial fishing, commercial logging, commercial pipelines – will we be able to harvest all these resources and capitalize on these revenues?
A: YES this is what a Treaty is all about.

Q: What if we don’t have an economic base, how will we sustain ourselves?
A: The Kitselas Government will work toward developing an economic base after a Final Agreement has been negotiated. The purpose of the negotiations is to ensure that we do have an economic base, so we have focused on lands, forestry and other resources.  However, all of the funding we receive now will continue, in addition to what we agree to in treaty.

Q: Are the lands we get productive, of value?
A: The Kitselas will receive a significant land base that can be developed in a number of ways.  There are a number of parcels within our land offer that are extremely valuable.   The value of our land depends on what we do with it.  ‘Value’ is a long term thing.  For example, our forests will be valuable again in 50 years.  Natural resources are subject to availability everywhere, however other economic options are created with an increased land base.  After Treaty the Kitselas Government will also have an opportunity to buy additional lands.

Q: Will we receive retroactive pay for the current use of our lands?
A: No. The Negotiators have asked about this and Canada and BC will not commit to retroactive payments.

Q: Is there a dollar amount being negotiated to recover the timber that has already been logged from our territory?
A: No.  The timber is gone.  It has been raised at the treaty table, but Canada and BC have commented that they are working towards “a forward looking agreement”. The treaty will create future opportunities in the forest industry and in other areas, based on lessons we have learned from the past.

Q: What kind of protection or guarantee do we have over our water and resources?
A: Our guarantee is the Final Agreement (a Treaty) which will be constitutionally protected.  We will no longer have to go to court to prove our claim to land and resources.  Once an Agreement-In-Principle is approved, the lands and resources in question will be protected.

Hunting, Fishing & Gathering

Q: What about our right to fish and hunt?
A: Nothing will change for the hunter or fisherman.  Kitselas will still have the right to hunt and fish in their ‘traditional territories’ and outside Kitselas lands as they do now.

Q: What about the trap-lines after Treaty?
A: These will still be accessible by the current users post-treaty.

Q: If a pipeline goes through our lands we will not be protected?
A: Any industry proposing development on Kitselas treaty settlement lands will require OUR CONSENT.   In areas surrounding Kitselas lands industries will be obligated to consult with the Kitselas as they would with local government such as the City of Terrace.  Any industry also has an obligation to restore the land if it’s damaged.

Q: What class of park would we be able to hunt, fish, gather on?
A:  Chapter 14 of the Agreement-In-Principle (Parks, Protected Areas and Public Planning) sec. 18 reads:
“Kitselas participants may exercise the Kitselas right to gather plants, […] harvest migratory birds and […] harvest wildlife within provincial protected areas including conservancies in accordance within the Final Agreement.”  This means you may currently hunt in Parks and Protected Areas, subject to conservation and safety, and you will be able to do that in the future.

Eligibility

Q: If individuals meet the criteria to become Kitselas and are in the middle of transferring how would they register in the treaty?
A:  Anyone who is not currently a member of Kitselas can apply for registration.  Each registration application will be reviewed by the Enrollment Committee and a decision will be made.  A negative decision can be appealed through an appeal board or the supreme court of BC.  All applications, including current band member applications will have to be reviewed by the Enrollment Committee (to be established post-treaty).