If members of the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) treaty group ratify their treaty Agreement-in-Principle on Feb. 11 they will receive land transfers from the province.
The Nations in the Cariboo region of British Columbia are negotiating a treaty with the province and Canada, but under incremental treaty agreements with B.C., 3,760 hectares of Crown land will go to Tsq'escen' First Nation (Canim Lake), Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek), Xat'sull First Nation (Soda Creek) and T'exelc First Nation (Williams Lake) in advance of a final treaty.
The agreements also include funding for construction of fencing to address the interests of cattle ranchers affected by the agreements.
The transfers will occur in two phases. Phase One is initiated when the NStQ communities “successfully” ratify their treaty Agreement-in-Principle next week and move to Final Agreement negotiations. Phase two would happen after British Columbia, Canada and NStQ conclude a Final Agreement.
Phase one land transfers include 105.4 ha in two parcels for Tsq'escen' First Nation; 551.6 ha in two parcels from Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem First Nation; 137.8 ha in two parcels to Xat'sull First Nation; 1,178.4 ha in one parcel to T'exelc First Nation.
Phase two land transfers includes 648 ha in two parcels to Tsq'escen' First Nation; Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem First Nation will receive two parcels selected from three options, up to a maximum of 827.2 ha; 78.9 ha in two parcels to Xat'sull First Nation; and 230.8 ha in one parcel to T'exelc First Nation.
“The lands identified by the community have historical and cultural importance for Xat'sull (Soda Creek),” said Chief Donna Dixon of Xat'sull First Nation. “The signing of the incremental treaty agreement is an opportunity to immediately reclaim lands that we have been isolated from for many years. These lands were identified for the purpose of supporting job creation, future planning and development, and give us renewed access to lands that had supported our community for generations. We are encouraged by the fact that we can begin to move toward positive progress now, prior to a final treaty agreement.”
The Nations will own their respective incremental treaty agreement lands in fee-simple, and the lands will be included as treaty settlement lands in a final treaty.
“This is a step to realizing the Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem vision of an economically and self-sustaining community. And we look forward to the Phase two transfers to provide further significant benefits. We also want to see this as a demonstration of British Columbia's good faith in upcoming negotiations on the Final Agreement,” Chief Patrick Harry of Stswecem'c/Xgat'tem First Nation (Canoe/Dog Creek).