Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor of the Metlakatla First Nation and Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations sign the transition agreement. (Contributed photo)

Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor of the Metlakatla First Nation and Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations sign the transition agreement. (Contributed photo)

Metlakatla transitions treaty negotiations to Stage 5

Indigenous nation near Prince Rupert moves closer to self-governance agreement with province

Metlakatla First Nation has signed an agreement with the federal and provincial governments that has advanced its treaty negotiations to the next transition.

On Feb. 28, the agreement to “build a collaborative government-to-government relationship” was announced stating that the parties will finalize Stage 5 within two years. Within that time, outstanding issues will be renegotiated. There are six stages in the treaty negotiation process.

“This Transition Agreement and the strong foundation that it sets for our treaty is a positive step towards reconciliation. We look forward to working with both levels of government to realize their commitments to recognition and reconciliation. We will bring to our members a document that will allow our Nation to protect our rights, our territory and our culture for generations to come,” said Harold Leighton, Chief Councillor of the Metlakatla First Nation, in the press release.

In the next two years, the parties will move toward a “core” approach to the treaty. The three parties will look into self-governance, resources, land ownership, and law, all of which would go into a “constitutionally protected core treaty”.

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Some flexibility will be considered through supplementary agreements, according to the press release.

“Treaties are one of the key paths to comprehensive reconciliation with First Nations, so I’m glad to see this collaborative work reach such an important milestone… Like our relationships, this agreement is flexible and will grow and evolve over time, working for all parties into the future,” said Scott Fraser, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Leighton, along with Fraser and Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations all signed the Metlakatla Transition to Stage Five and Treaty Revitalization Agreement.

Metlakatla are one of the seven Tsimshian First Nations on the north coast of B.C., and their community is based on the Tsimshian Peninsula near Prince Rupert.

For full text of the agreement visit www.metlakatla.ca

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Shannon Lough | Editor
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