As we consider the Final Agreement as a path to selfgovernment, we are talking about our choices. In doing so, we know that there are neighbouring First Nations who claim rights within parts of our traditional territory.
The Final Agreement foresees these challenges and will help us deal with these matters. The Agreement also protects our Treaty rights if another First Nation’s Final Agreement affects us.
What are shared territories?
First Nations’ traditional territories can and often do overlap in British Columbia. These refer to situations in which more than one First Nation asserts Aboriginal rights to the same (or a part of the same) area.
What does the Final Agreement say about shared territories?
As the Final Agreement defines our rights, including those to hunt, fish, and gather throughout our traditional 4.5 million hectare harvest area and fish area, it also talks about other First Nations whose rights may be affected. The BC Treaty Process encourages First Nations to work out overlap issues between themselves. So the first step is that we will talk in good faith with our neighbouring First Nations and will continue to work to resolve remaining issues. The Agreement also contains protections for our Treaty rights if another First Nation’s Final Agreement affects them.
How are we dealing with these issues?
We already have formal shared territory arrangements with some of our neighbouring First Nations and will continue to develop others with those who are willing. We have also been careful to not select treaty settlement lands in remote areas that have unresolved competing claims. If a court finds that our Treaty negatively affects another First Nation’s Aboriginal or Treaty rights, the Final Agreement sets out that both sets of rights will be provided for where possible, and if not possible, that we will make our best effort to change the Final Agreement to resolve the issue fairly.
Are talks planned with our neighbours?
Yes. With the coming vote, the governments of Canada and British Columbia have restarted talks with neighboring First Nations about how the Final Agreement may affect them. In the past, some made unsuccessful legal attempts to stop or delay our vote, at great expense to all.
Who may have overlapping interests?
First Nations that also assert Aboriginal rights in parts of Lheidli T’enneh’s harvest area and fish area include McLeod Lake, Lhtako Dene, Nak’azdli, Saik’uz, Simpcw, Treaty 8 Tribal Council and others.
May others fish and hunt in our traditional territory?
Yes. Lheidli T’enneh harvesting rights set out in the Final Agreement are not exclusive, and other First Nations and the public may fish and hunt there as they do now on provincial Crown land. They will still have to follow rules within federal and provincial conservation and safety legislation. Lheidli T’enneh will have a larger role in the management of hunting and fishing when we choose to become involved.