The Northern Shuswap Tribal Council and its affiliated NStQ Treaty Group have received a mandate to move forward in the BC treaty process after a referendum vote held Thursday.
Community members of Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem First Nation (Dog Creek/Canoe Creek), Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Indian Band), Xats’ūll (Soda Creek Indian Band, and T’exelc (Williams Lake Indian Band) voted on the following ballot question:
“Do you support the recommendation of the NStQ Leadership Council to proceed to Final Agreement Negotiations?”
Results of the referendum released by NStQ Friday stated at Canim Lake Band of 458 eligible voters, 125 voted yes and 84 voted no.
At Soda Creek of 336 eligible voters, 90 voted yes and 48 voted no.
At Canoe Creek and Dog Creek of the 582 eligible voters, 113 voted yes and 72 voted no.
“As Chief of the SXFN, I welcome the positive results of our AIP vote and congratulate Stswecem’c Xgattem membership for voting,” stated Chief Patrick Harry, Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. “We have chosen to continue to the final stage of negotiation in the BC Treaty process. With this mandate, SXFN will return to the table with greater determination to negotiate a final agreement that will see more of our traditional SXFN territory returned.”
Harry said community leaders remain resolute in their desire to secure a governance role over land use, environmental protection, economic development and the stewardship of all resources.
“It is our right and responsibility,” Harry stated. “SXFN leadership commits to world-class engagement with all of our citizens to ensure that the final agreement reflects the vision and values of all of our membership.”
No numbers were released from the vote at Williams Lake Indian Band because mid-way through voting day Thursday, the polling station was closed due to an aggressive protestor who smashed a ballot box and another who ripped up some ballots.
A revote has been scheduled for WLIB members on April 28, 2106.
WLIB members will, once again, have the opportunity to cast their votes on the same ballot question asked its sister NStQ communities:
“Do you support the recommendation of the NStQ Leadership Council to proceed to Final Agreement Negotiations?” After much deliberation, the seventy-day notice period was determined by the WLIB Council as providing an adequate amount of time for all eligible WLIB members, (locally, regionally and internationally) to receive and be able to re-cast their vote in person or by mail-in ballot.
WLIB members, 18years and older, are encouraged to contact their band office as soon as possible to confirm their current contact information (address, phone, email, etc.) is up-to-date. For information regarding “Ballot Mail-out”, please contact Marg Casey (NStQ Referendum Officer) at phone number 250-392-7361 ext. 208.
The vote was not on the NStQ Treaty itself, a process which the NStQ has been involved in since 1994, the NStQ said in a press release.
“This referendum determines whether the NStQ membership wish to continue into the final negotiations stage (Stage Five) of the six-stage made-in-BC Treaty Process. If membership votes “yes” to moving forward into Stage Five, that process can take anywhere from three to five years to complete,” the press release stated, noting once a final agreement is negotiated, NStQ membership will conduct a final vote whether to accept the negotiated treaty, before its implementation or stage six can begin.