3. Aboriginal Issues in British Columbia

Modern Treaties and Claims

There are two types of claims relevant to treaty making: comprehensive claims and specific claims. Comprehensive claims involve unfinished treaty making in Canada where Aboriginal rights are not covered by past treaties. Specific claims are meant to deal with past grievances of First Nations related to historic treaties or management of First Nations resources.

Most modern treaty negotiations in BC occur within the British Columbia Treaty Process (BCTP), although there have been some successful negotiation processes outside of BCTP. The BCTP is a voluntary process, and not all First Nations are interested in participating.

In 1999-2000, both the McLeod Lake Indian Band Treaty No. 8 Adhesion and Settlement Agreement and the Nisga’a Final Agreement were ratified and went into effect. The McLeod Lake agreement rectified the exclusion of the McLeod Lake Indian Band from Treaty 8 by transferring 19,810 hectares of Crown land to the band. It received unanimous support in the BC Legislature. The Nisga’a agreement was hailed as the BC’s first modern-day land treaty. It is a comprehensive agreement that includes surface and subsurface rights, removal of Indian Act application, cash compensation, agreements around wildlife and fisheries, and self-government provisions.

Within the BCTP, 60 First Nations are participating in 49 sets of negotiations, representing about two-thirds of all First Nations people in BC. As a process, the BCTP includes the six stages [1] as outlined in the table.

Table 3.2 6 Stages of Treaty Negotiations
Stage Number Stage Name Description
Stage 1 Statement of Intent to Negotiate A First Nation submits a statement of intent (SOI) stating, among other things, who is claiming, proof that the negotiating party is supported by the community and where the claim will be made.
Stage 2 Readiness to Negotiate Within 45 days of submitting the SOI the parties must sit down and show that all parties have the will and resources to negotiate a treaty.
Stage 3 Negotiation of a Framework Agreement This is basically the “table of contents” of a comprehensive treaty. The three parties agree on the subjects to be negotiated and an estimated time frame for Stage 4 agreement-in-principle negotiations.
Stage 4 Negotiation of an Agreement In Principle The negotiating parties examine in detail the elements outlined in their framework agreement with the goal of solving all the problems and creating a working treaty.
Stage 5 Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty The treaty for all intents and purposes is finished at this stage, but it has to be approved by all parties of the negotiating team.
Stage 6 Implementation of the Treaty The final stage: applying and running the First Nation as set out by the treaty.

As of 2014, a few treaties have been completed, including the Maa-nulth First Nations Treaty and the Tsawwassen First Nation Treaty. Other treaties are pending final ratification by the Canadian government, such as the Tla’amin Nation Treaty and Yale First Nation Treaty.  The large majority of First Nations involved in BCTP are in Stage 4.

The status of BC treaty negotiations is outlined on this map [2] from the BC Treaty website.


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British Columbia in a Global Context Copyright © 2014 by Geography Open Textbook Collective is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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