Vancouver Island band abandons key consultation process

Published in Windspeaker newspaper | April 26, 2013 | Circulation: 145,000


David-ClippingsKwakiutl Indian Band has rejected B.C. government attempts to negotiate a “new relationship” with First Nations, saying that talks had failed to respect its right to refuse consent to industrial development on their territories.

Only weeks before the launch of the provincial election campaign, Kwakiutl– located around Port Hardy near the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island–announced its abandonment of both a provincial Strategic Engagement Agreement (SEA), as well as its withdrawal from an alliance of several nations jointly negotiating with B.C., Nanwakolas Council.

“The consultation process established under the SEA framework agreement doesn’t promote accommodation or stopping of what Kwakiutl didn’t want to have happen within our territories,” Casey Larochelle, the band’s Economic Development manager, told Windspeaker. “Not just logging, anything. It could be an airport, mining, parks permits.

“Not one opposition response was ever taken seriously or resulted in anything. It does not promote shared decision-making of the Kwakiutl with their lands, the waters that belong within their territory. That goes against the ‘New Relationship’ here in B.C.”

The decision to publicly criticize the province’s approach could be a setback as the province heads towards a May 14 election, having been preceded by a raft of announcements about new agreements and negotiations with First Nations, hoping to shore up Aboriginal support.

The majority of B.C. is unceded, but Kwakiutl is one of only 14 nations that negotiated a series of agreements collectively known as the Douglas Treaties, because they were overseen by then-governor and fur trader James Douglas, known as the “father of British Columbia.”

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