Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

June 27, 2008 09:37 ET

Statement by the Honourable Chuck Strahl

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 27, 2008) - The following statement was issued today by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, regarding Bill C-34, the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act:

"Bill-34, the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act has received Royal Assent. This legislation, when given effect, will create Canada's first urban modern treaty and is the first treaty to be ratified under the British Columbia Treaty process.

This agreement is something we can all be proud of as it demonstrates what is accomplished when First Nations, provinces and Canada come to the table in a spirit of mutual respect and are determined to make progress. It is not only historic, but focussed on the future - a future of great opportunities and a new relationship between the Tsawwassen First Nation, British Columbians and all Canadians.

Kim Baird, Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation feels Royal Assent of this treaty signals the end of a long and arduous journey as well as a bright new beginning. She says under the treaty, Tsawwassen First Nation will become self-governing and self-sustaining.

Chief Kim Baird should be lauded for her strength and perseverance. Under her exceptional leadership, members of the Tsawwassen First Nation are taking an unprecedented step towards creating a brighter future for this community.


BACKGROUNDER

KEY COMPONENTS TO THE TSAWWASSEN FINAL AGREEMENT

Land

- The Final Agreement land package consists of approximately 724 hectares of treaty settlement land for Tsawwassen First Nation over which Tsawwassen government will have jurisdiction. This includes approximately 290 hectares of former Indian reserve and 372 hectares of former provincial Crown land. Tsawwassen First Nation will also own in fee simple(1) an additional 62 hectares of other land comprised of the Boundary Bay and Fraser River parcels, but this land will remain under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of Delta.

- Treaty settlement lands will be held in fee simple by Tsawwassen First Nation. Fee-simple ownership gives Tsawwassen First Nation the flexibility to manage its lands and generate long-term economic benefits.

- Tsawwassen First Nation will have rights of refusal for 80 years after the treaty takes effect to purchase approximately 278 hectares of lands north of Tsawwassen Lands (Brunswick Point lands) if the people currently leasing these lands choose not to buy them from British Columbia or decide to sell them later.

- If Tsawwassen First Nation purchases land within the Brunswick Point lands within 50 years after the effective date of the treaty, Tsawwassen First Nation may add these lands to its treaty settlement lands. Following this 50-year period, Tsawwassen First Nation can add land within its claimed traditional territory to its treaty settlement lands if it purchases the land from willing sellers, but the federal, provincial and municipal governments must consent to the addition.

- Federal and provincial laws, as well as Tsawwassen laws, will apply to treaty settlement lands, also referred to as Tsawwassen Lands. The provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) designation will not apply to the former Indian reserve lands but will apply to about half of the former provincial Crown land which will become Tsawwassen Lands. The ALR will apply to the Boundary Bay and Fraser River parcels.

Financial Components

- A capital transfer of $13.9 million in 2006 terms, paid over 10 years, less any outstanding negotiation loans.

- $2.0 million from Canada for the release of rights to the mines and minerals under previously surrendered reserve lands.

- One-time funding of $15.8 million to support start-up and transition costs, as well as treaty implementation.

- Ongoing annual funding of $2.8 million for programs and services, including implementation and governance activities.

Wildlife, Migratory Birds and Forest Resources

- Tsawwassen First Nation will have the right to harvest wildlife and migratory birds for food, social and ceremonial purposes within specified areas, subject to conservation, public health and public safety.

- The federal and provincial ministers will retain authority, within their respective jurisdictions, to manage wildlife and migratory birds and their habitats.

- Tsawwassen First Nation will manage designation and documentation of Tsawwassen First Nation hunters.

Fish

- Under the treaty, Tsawwassen First Nation will have the right to harvest fish and aquatic plants for food, social and ceremonial purposes, subject to conservation, public health and public safety.

- The Final Agreement provides for Tsawwassen First Nation's treaty allocations of salmon for food, social and ceremonial purposes.

- The Final Agreement leaves some species of fish and aquatic plants non-allocated, such as crab and intertidal bivalves. A process has been set out in the Final Agreement to establish allocations at the request of Tsawwassen First Nation, Canada or British Columbia.

- A harvest agreement, separate from the Final Agreement, provides for access to the commercial salmon fishery for the Tsawwassen First Nation. This access will be on the similar terms and conditions applicable to non-Aboriginal fishers.

- Tsawwassen First Nation has the right to trade and barter fish and aquatic plants harvested under its fishing right. This is allowed only among Tsawwassen members and with other Aboriginal people of Canada. Trade and barter does not include sale.

Culture and Heritage

- Tsawwassen First Nation can make laws to preserve, promote and develop culture and language, conserve and protect heritage resources on its lands, and deal with archaeological materials, sites and ancient human remains.

Governance

- With the exception of determining Indian status, after a transition period the Indian Act will no longer apply to Tsawwassen First Nation, its land or members. Instead, constitutionally-protected self-government provisions will enable Tsawwassen First Nation to make its own decisions on matters set out in the Final Agreement, including the preservation of its culture, the exercise of a full range of treaty rights and the operation of its government.

- The Final Agreement requires Tsawwassen First Nation to have a constitution that provides for government that is democratically elected and financially accountable to its members.

- Tsawwassen First Nation will provide non-members who are resident on Tsawwassen Lands an opportunity to participate in decision-making processes that significantly affect them.

- There will be non-member representation on any Tsawwassen public institution that makes decisions relating to matters that directly and significantly affect non-members, including taxation. The non-member representative will be selected by non-members and have the ability to participate in discussions and to vote on matters that directly and significantly affect non-members.

Taxation

- Tsawwassen First Nation government will have the ability to levy direct taxes on its members within treaty settlement lands, known as Tsawwassen Lands.

- Indian Act tax exemptions will be phased out. Tsawwassen members will pay transaction taxes after eight years and all other taxes after 12 years.

Local Government Relations

- Tsawwassen First Nation will become a member of Metro Vancouver (formerly the Greater Vancouver Regional District) and appoint a director to sit on the Metro Vancouver board.

- Tsawwassen First Nation will pay for core mandatory services, such as air quality, strategic planning, 911, regional parks and general government.

- Tsawwassen First Nation and the Greater Vancouver Water District may enter into a local water services agreement.

- Tsawwassen First Nation may enter into service agreements with other local governments.

The Tsawwassen Final Agreement is available online at:

- www.inac-ainc.gc.ca/bc/treapro/ston/nwdev/nwdev_e.html

Footnotes:

(1) A fee simple title is an estate of virtually infinite duration conveyed or granted absolutely to a person and his heirs indefinitely. The term fee simple means that a piece of property is individually owned. In simple terms the owner is entitled to the entire property with absolute power to make decisions about it during his life, as well as power to leave the property to his/her heir's when he/she dies.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Josee Bellemare
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160