The Final Agreement, if accepted, will create a new relationship with the governments of Canada and British Columbia. If we choose this Final Agreement, we will own the land that has been our reserve lands, and we will also own other land. The Indian Act will no longer govern the Lheidli T’enneh. We will govern ourselves with rules—a Constitution—we have created for ourselves.
Our Lheidli T’enneh government will have improved funding sources and a much greater ability to raise its own money by using our land for industry and economic development, by collecting taxes from those who live on Lheidli T’enneh land, and by getting a share of revenue coming from resources.
We will be better able to set a course for the future that is made by the Lheidli T’enneh for the benefit of our people. We will make our own decisions and make our own future.
What is the Final Agreement about?
The Final Agreement is a treaty and land claim agreement that would be recognized and protected under the Canadian Constitution. It sets out the full details of our government-to-government relationship with Canada and British Columbia in four areas: governance, finance, land and natural resources. It provides a road-map for a prosperous and self-reliant future that our future generations may take pride in.
Where did it come from?
Negotiated on behalf of all Lheidli T’enneh members by a negotiating team made up of Band members and hired professionals, the Final Agreement represents the fruit of more than 10 years of talks between the Lheidli T’enneh and the governments of British Columbia and Canada. Our people have long been leaders in treaty negotiations and we were the first to reach a Final Agreement in this way.
What is in it?
The Final Agreement sets out agreements that are legally binding. Among other things, it defines our rights to, and benefits from, our land. It provides more funding for programs and services and offers us a share of the wealth of British Columbia. It gives us the legal means to set up a new government, participate in managing our fisheries and other resources, and grow our economy for the future. If we approve it, all of the things in the Final Agreement will become protected in the Canadian Constitution. They cannot be taken away.
A Lheidli T’enneh government will be democratically elected, will have its own constitution (a set of rules for governing) and will be accountable to Lheidli T’enneh citizens. Under the Agreement, the Lheidli T’enneh government will have law-making abilities, the power to collect taxes and the ability to create its own sources of wealth.
We will own more than 4,300 hectares of land in and around Prince George. The Agreement also preserves rights within our much larger traditional territory. The Agreement defines and protects our fishing and hunting rights and gives us better tools to conserve and protect our culture and heritage.
The Final Agreement provides funding, which includes:
- A one-time lump sum settlement of more than $18 million to be paid over a 10 year period
- Enhanced annual block funding for programs and services like education and community health services under a side agreement that will be re-negotiated every five years
- $12.1 million one-time funding to help set up a new Lheidli T’enneh government, for treaty management and for land, resource and fisheries management
- The Lheidli T’enneh government will also share in the wealth from the resources of British Columbia through a fifty-year Resource Revenue Sharing agreement
Our relationship with the governments of Canada and British Columbia will change. The Agreement will mean we no longer are subject to the Indian Act. The Lheidli T’enneh will have a fully-empowered and recognized government under law and all three governments will provide services to members of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. Respectful relationships with other First Nations and local municipal governments will also be continued.
The Final Agreement offers many legal protections and confirms, in the Canadian Constitution, our rights to govern ourselves and to use, own, and manage our lands. The Final Agreement creates a clear reconciliation for the longstanding issues between us and the governments of Canada and British Columbia. The Agreement can only be changed if all three governments agree.
The Agreement will be protected in the Constitution of Canada, ensuring that anyone doing business in Lheidli T’enneh areas would have to respect its terms.