by Gaven Crites
100 Mile Free Press
In an effort to settle centuries-old land claims in British Columbia’s central Interior, the Canim Lake Band near 100 Mile House is one of four Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) te Qelmucw (NStQ) bands in the midst of wrapping up one of the final stages of a historic treaty negotiation with the federal and provincial governments.
The treaty, which has been in negotiation since 1993, involves millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of acres of territory. It covers a wide range of land, wildlife, governance, economic and fiscal issues, while implicating the interests of private companies, the public and First Nations.
The NStQ comprises some 2,500 members in four First Nation bands – Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake), Stswecem’c / Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek), Xats’ull/Cmetem’ (Soda Creek) and T’exelc (Williams Lake).
A vote by NStQ members to approve what the NStQ Treaty Group has negotiated to date and move into final negotiations (from Stage 4 to Stage 5) has been scheduled for Feb. 11, 2016.
The vote in February to move from draft treaty to final negotiations was originally slated this October, but the NStQ decided it needed more time to consult with members and delayed the vote by five months.
Treaties are constitutionally protected agreements between governments that create long-term and mutually binding commitments with respect to governance of lands and resources. Unlike most of Canada, in many parts of B.C. treaties were never signed with Aboriginal Peoples.