For years the Lheidli T’enneh have worked to define and affirm our rights as a people. The Final Agreement gives us the power and authority to govern our own affairs. It also gives us clear rights to and ownership of land. Together, these give us tremendous opportunities to grow our economic prosperity in the future. If we vote to accept the Final Agreement, we will own land and be able to buy more. The Agreement expands the area that we now control. At the same time, we will keep our traditional hunting and fishing rights within our larger harvest areas, even though we won’t own all that land.
Owning land means the Lheidli T’enneh can earn income from that land; we can collect taxes from people who live on that land; we can collect payments from people who set up resource industries on the land; and we can earn money from that land by developing or harvesting the resources ourselves.
These lands also provide us opportunities to finance projects without necessarily taking on a burden of debt.
Land will help the Lheidli T’enneh government put in place economic development initiatives that create jobs and prosperity for our people.
How much land will we own?
We will own our reserve land plus more than 3,600 hectares of new land in and around Prince George. The new Lheidli T’enneh government will have the power to make laws over all of these lands. While representing a small percentage of our traditional territory, these are valuable parcels of land that include forest, agricultural, residential and commercial land.
Are we limited to hunting, fishing and gathering on these lands?
We are not limited to hunting, fishing and gathering only on the lands we own. We will also keep our rights to hunt, fish and gather throughout our defined traditional 4.5 million hectare harvest area.
Will we own all the resources on our lands?
Under the Final Agreement, the Lheidli T’enneh will have rights to all the resources on and under the land we own, whether it is a resource on the surface such as timber, or underground like minerals, oil, and gas.
Lheidli T’enneh will own all the timber on Lheidli T’enneh lands, except for four parcels in the Shelley area. On these four parcels, British Columbia will own the timber for about 10 years and its harvest will continue to be managed under a separate agreement. Eventually, we will own all forest resources on these four parcels as well.
Minerals, oil, and gas
Lheidli T’enneh will own all resources below the surface of its lands, including any minerals, oil, and gas. The Lheidli T’enneh may also charge others who want to develop or extract these resources.
These rights apply to all Lheidli T’enneh land except for existing mineral claims identified in the appendices of the Final Agreement as well as a parcel of about 55 hectares of private land where we will not own the sub-surface rights or be able to make laws.
Some of the Lheidli T’enneh Lands, about 322 hectares, are listed as agricultural land reserve and cannot be used for incompatible purposes unless it is approved.
Can we buy more land?
We can add to our land by buying more. Some lands will be put aside for us by the government of British Columbia for five years. During that time, we can negotiate to buy those lands. As well, the Lheidli T’enneh government may choose one or two other areas of provincial Crown land for future economic development. If the governments of Canada and BC agree, Lheidli T'enneh law-making and tax authorities would apply on the lands added.
How will we work with our neighbours?
Almost a quarter of Lheidli T’enneh Land will be located within the city of Prince George. A relationship already exists among Lheidli T’enneh, the City of Prince George and the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. The Lheidli T’enneh will receive taxes from people who live on our land. A separate agreement will guide how development and management of these lands will be harmonized with the City and Regional District.
Owning land is very important. As we walk this path toward self-government, we recognize that it is a very powerful tool for the Lheidli T’enneh, a tool that can offer us tremendous opportunity, increase our independence and create economic prosperity for the future.
Just as we have the right to hunt and fish on other’s lands, the Final Agreement requires us to ensure there is reasonable access for the public on Lheidli T’enneh lands for hiking, canoeing, and other recreational activities. We can, however, regulate and limit hunting and fishing on Lheidli T’enneh Lands.
Leases and licences to other users of Lheidli T’enneh Lands will also remain in force after the Agreement comes into effect.