For the handful of B.C. Indigenous communities that have completed modern-day treaties with the federal and provincial governments, the next stage of self-government involves police service agreements, co-management of fisheries and resources and revenue sharing with the Crown.
Those are priorities for the Tsawwassen First Nation, Tla’amin Nation on the Sunshine Coast and the five Maa-Nulth Nations on southwestern Vancouver Island as they form the Alliance of B.C. Modern Treaty Nations. It mirrors the Canada-wide group of modern treaty governments that works with the federal government.
“Many of the issues we’re facing as modern treaty nations today are the result of developments that none of the parties anticipated during treaty negotiations,” said Chief Charlie Cootes of the Maa-Nulth Treaty Society.
Tsawwassen’s progress has been most noticeable since it signed an agreement converting its negotiated territory into fee-simple ownership of land around the B.C. Ferries terminal and Roberts Bank coal port. The community has attracted more than $1 billion in investment, opening the Tsawwassen Mills shopping mall.
The Maa-nulth treaty, ratified by the B.C. legislature in 2007, cedes more than 24,000 hectares of land to the 2,000 aboriginal people in the areas of Bamfield, Ucluelet, Alberni Inlet and Kyuquot Sound. Financial components include $73 million in capital transfers over 10 years, minus loans taken out by the five communities to pay for 15 years of negotiations, and revenue sharing payments totaling $1.2 million a year.
Tla’amin’s settlement took effect in 2016, transferring Crown and reserve land in the Powell River area, in a traditional territory that includes Lasqueti, Texada and Cortes Islands as well as Comox on Vancouver Island.
It transferred 6,405 hectares of former provincial Crown land, including forest and mineral rights, plus a $33.9 million capital transfer and a $7.9 million economic development fund. Since the agreement was signed, the Tla’amin have endorsed a constitution that Chief Clint Williams said ensures transparent and accountable government.