Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

April 09, 2009 13:19 ET

Maa-nulth, Canada and BC Take Important Step Toward Maa-nuulth Treaty on Vancouver Island

PORT ALBERNI, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 9, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, and the Honourable Michael de Jong, BC's Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation today joined the five Maa-nulth First Nations (http://www.maanulth.ca/) to complete the signing of the Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement. This is the third Final Agreement in BC to be signed by Canada, British Columbia and First Nations.

"There is no question of the importance that this landmark final agreement will play in Maa-Nuulth's future," said Minister Strahl. "This important step provides the basis for the Maa-nulth First Nations to build a new future for and bring new economic opportunities to their communities, as well as to the regions along the west coast of Vancouver Island. It also clearly shows what can be accomplished when partners commit to finding solutions to complex issues through dialogue."

"The occasion of this historic signing marks another major milestone along the path of reconciliation between the Maa-nulth First Nations, BC and Canada," said Minister de Jong. "I know the parties will now bring the same spirit of cooperation and persistence to preparing for the day in the near future when the Maa-nulth Agreement takes effect."

Today's signing of this Final Agreement (http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/scr/bc/trts/agrmts/mna/index-eng.asp) by Canada and Huu-ay-aht First Nations allows the federal government to formally proceed with introducing legislation to ratify the Agreement in Parliament. The leaders of the four other Maa-nulth First Nations -Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Ucluelet - who had earlier signed the agreement, joined in the ceremony.

Treaty negotiations with the five Maa-nulth First Nations concluded in December 2006. In July and October 2007, Maa-nulth community members ratified the Agreement, with 80 percent of voting members voting in favour. Subsequently, in November 2007, the Province of British Columbia introduced, and subsequently passed, settlement legislation to ratify this Final Agreement. In July 2008, British Columbia and leaders of four of the Maa-nulth First Nations, other than Huu-ay-aht First Nations signed the Final Agreement.

"The Hawiih and the people of Ka:'yu':'k't'h'/Che:ktles7et'h' First Nations are extremely pleased on this historic occasion that the Government of Canada is ratifying this important Treaty so that our nations may embark on this journey of Self-governance and Self sufficiency. We can once again take our rightful place as Stewards of our lands and resources," said Chief Councillor Therese Smith of the Ka:'yu':'k't'h'/Che:ktles7et'h' First Nation.

"We are one step closer to the visions of our ancestors for the future of our children and generations to come," said Chief Bert Mack of the Toquaht Nation.

"It is the greatest day in our history as we once again will be able to practice our Nation's independence. We have a very bright and productive future in front of us, thanks to co-operation by all three parties working together to finalize this chapter of our lives, we can now move forward and live in co-existence recognizing each others' governments," said Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes Sr., of the Uchucklesaht Tribe.

"I am glad this day has arrived - now, we as UFN can move forward in the goals we have set, to be ready for Effective Date," said Chief Councillor Violet Mundy of the Ucluelet First Nations.

"Let us call to mind and remember Chief Arthur Peters and Chief Spencer Peters, two great chiefs who built into this treaty the tools necessary to realize our goals for the future of our great nation. This treaty will assist us in our historic project to add to our rich history, recovery of our ancestral language and create new economic opportunities for our people. The Huu-ay-aht, one step at a time will work with Canada and BC to make this treaty work for the benefit of all our people," said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the five Maa-nulth First Nations belong to the Nuu-chah-nulth linguistic group. The Maa-nulth communities are comprised of approximately 2,000 people. The Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement includes roughly 24,550 hectares of land, and a capital transfer of $73.1 million for the five First Nations provided over a 10 year period. The costs will be shared by provincial and federal governments. The Final Agreement defines the Maa-nulth First Nations' rights regarding self-government and the ownership and management of lands and resources, including rights with respect to the harvest of fish and wildlife.

The Maa-nulth Final Agreement is available at: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/scr/bc/trts/agrmts/mna/index-eng.asp

This release is also available on the Internet at http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/

Contact Information

  • Minister's Office
    Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Nina Chiarelli
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160
    or
    Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
    Maria Wilkie
    Director of Communications
    250-888-8793 (cell)
    or
    Maa-nulth First Nation
    Trudy Warner
    250-724-1802