Today marks the start of Year Zero for Archie Patrick.
“We got some resources from (the province),” the Stellat’en First Nation Chief told a packed Uda Dune Baiyoh (House of Ancestors) gathering Wednesday. “And over the next three to five years we’re going to use it to bring back what we used to be.”
Those resources come in the form of a historic, $175 million agreement between the province and seven Carrier Sekani First Nations. Dubbed the Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement, the deal provides revenue sharing and processes for collaborative decision-making to the seven Carrier Sekani First Nations in four main areas: economic development, socio-cultural programming, governance and environmental stewardship.
Premier John Horgan; Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development; Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee; Carrier Sekani Tribal Chief Mina Holmes; and chiefs from Stellat’en First Nation, Nadleh Whut’en, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation, Saik’uz First Nation, Nak’azdli Whut’en, Takla Nation and Tl’azt’en Nation were all on hand for the signing.
“This historic partnership with the Carrier Sekani First Nations will help lift people up and make life better for communities throughout the Omineca region,” said Premier John Horgan. “We are taking important steps together to make sure Carrier Sekani communities and all Indigenous communities benefit from economic development and nation building into the future.”
The agreement is the result of work between the seven Nations and the provincial government since 2014, and commits to bringing the federal government to the negotiations going forward. Priorities for continued negotiation of a long-term agreement include lands, forest tenure opportunities and implementation of rights and title.
“The Pathways Forward Agreement is founded on the principles of unity, equity, capacity and economic sustainability,” said Holmes. “These principles will strengthen the existing relationship between our Nations and neighbouring communities as we are all here to stay. We are committed to continuing to improve these relationships to forge regional sustainability for our people, our land and our governance.”
Measures in the agreement include:
* an economic development fund to support business development, partnerships with neighbouring communities and joint ventures that will benefit the economy of the region as a whole ($70 million over five years);
* a wealth fund that will be invested to generate ongoing revenues to support growth and development in CSFN communities ($15 million in 2020-21);
* funding for socio-cultural programs to revitalize Carrier and Sekani languages and culture ($12.5 million over five years);
* provisions for CSFNs to build on governance processes and structures, with a goal of full self-government ($12.5 million over five years);
* accommodation for impacts on the land from forest and range activities in the territory, which will create certainty and predictability for the forest sector in the region ($40 million over five years); and
* capacity funding for implementing the agreement and continuing negotiations on a long-term, comprehensive reconciliation agreement between CSFNs and the provincial and federal governments ($25 million over five years).