The provincial government and Tsilhqot’in Nation announced Friday they’ve reached some interim agreements while they continue to work through the process of transferring Aboriginal title lands to Tsilhqot’in management following the Supreme Court of Canada decision on Aboriginal title last June.
“It’s kind of been a hurry up and wait situation,” Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William told the Tribune Friday. “Our community members do feel things from the ground are moving slowly, but I think a lot of the agreements we’re working on are coming from the community. And many local operators have been calling me to find out where things are at.”
William said the agreements are interim because the Tsilhqot’in are looking not only at the title land but at the entire Tsilhqot’in territory.
“We want to make sure things are consistent throughout the territory, rather than one “island” where everything is different,” he explained. “We are making these little agreements so we can keep moving forward with that in mind.”
So far the two sides have agreed in 2015, that road maintenance, emergency and wildfire response will continue to be under provincial and federal government jurisdiction.
As reported in the Tribune last month, the Tsilhqot’in Nation and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government have authorized the extension of existing guide outfitter licences for one year to provide those businesses with certainty for the upcoming season.
“The agreement stipulates there will be no increase to guiding quotas compared to the 2013-14 year,” both sides noted in a joint press release.
All fees associated with guide outfitting in the title area will be paid to the Province and remitted to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation and Xeni Gwet’in have not authorized other hunting activities within the Title lands.
B.C.’s Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad said the “complex” reconciliation process is a profound opportunity to build a stronger relationship and develop a renewed vision with the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
“I am confident we are going in the right direction to build stable economic, political and community partnerships with the Tsilhqot’in people,” Rustad stated.
Other interim agreements are in the works, however, William said it’s too early to say what they will be.
In the meantime the Tsilhqot’in are hoping to develop some new interpretive signage incorporating Tsilhqot’in names and English names for places within the region.
“We want to show our history both for our people, the people of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, B.C., Canada, and visitors to our area,” William explained.
In its June 26, 2014 ruling the Supreme Court of Canada granted Aboriginal Title to the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
Aboriginal Title includes the right to exclusive use and occupation of the land, the right to the economic benefits of the land, and the ability to determine how the land is used.
The ruling was the first in Canada designating Aboriginal Title to a large tract of land outside of a reserve.