Treaty Talks in British Columbia: Negotiating a Mutually Beneficial Future

Treaty Talks in British Columbia: Negotiating a Mutually Beneficial Future

Treaty Talks in British Columbia: Negotiating a Mutually Beneficial Future

Treaty Talks in British Columbia: Negotiating a Mutually Beneficial Future

Synopsis

In this book, Christopher McKee traces the origins and development of treaty negotiations in British Columbia. Through examination of Native peoples'concerns, such as their role in natural resource development and the issue of compensation for lands and resources lost to industry and urban development, he analyzes conflicting points of view on the treaty-making process and suggests alternatives for a consensus.

Excerpt

With the announcement by Premier Vander Zalm of the provincial government's intention to negotiate with First Nations, the First Nations Congress (later named the First Nations Summit) responded by organizing two meetings with officials from both federal and provincial levels of government. One meeting was held with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the other with Premier Vander Zalm. Representatives of all First Nations in the province were invited to attend. the meetings were conducted in a spirit of cooperation, and new approaches toward resolving the land question were discussed. Mulroney was willing to change the present federal comprehensive claims process so that more than one claim could be addressed concurrently. However, the First Nation representatives were somewhat guarded. Except for some of the Nisga'a representatives, none of the First Nations had previous experience in treaty negotiations with the federal or British Columbia governments. None wished to be caught without a thoughtful, strategic position, or put into a position where they could be outflanked by more skilled government negotiators. Therefore the First Nations Congress suggested the creation of a tripartite task force to recommend appropriate procedures and principles on which to base the negotiations. Both governments agreed to the suggestion. On 3 December 1990, the British Columbia Claims Task Force was established.

The task force consisted of appointees from all three parties. the federal government appointed two representatives. One appointee was Murray Coolican, a consultant and the former chairman of an earlier federal task force designed to review Ottawa's land claims policy. Coolican was also an expert on treaties. the other federal appointee was Audrey Stewart, an official with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with considerable experience in negotiating specific claims. British Columbia also made two appointments to the task force. Tony Sheridan was the deputy minister of Native affairs and had been with the provincial . . .

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