April 18, 2023
UBCIC Celebrates Historic Settlement of Treaty 8Treaty Land Entitlement Specific Claim
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – April 18, 2023) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs extends our warmest congratulations to the Blueberry River, Doig River, Halfway River, Saulteau, and West Moberly First Nations on finally achieving justice for their Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) specific claim after decades of negotiations with the federal and provincial governments to honour their historical land treaty.
UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip expressed relief and jublilation at the announcement, stating, “This is a momentous turning point in the settlement of specific claims. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Elders and leadership of the Blueberry River, Doig River, Halfway River, Salteau, and West Moberly First Nations who have demonstrated integrity and incredible perseverance in holding the Government of Canada accountable for breaking its treaty promises, and maintaining pressure on the provincial government to accept responsibility for the dispossession of Treaty 8 Nations’ lands and resources. Redress for these historical violations through compensation and land return sets a new bar for the many First Nations throughout BC with unresolved specific claims. I send my heartfelt congratulations to Treaty 8 communities.”
The unprecendented settlement agreement was announced at a press conference on April 15, 2023. Canada will pay over $800 million in financial compensation to the five First Nations for breaching its lawful obligations and violating the terms of Treaty 8. The historical treaty, signed in 1899, promised the First Nations access to their traditional hunting grounds and the ability to benefit economically from the land. However, for over 100 years the provincial government continued to allow settlers to develop and extract resources from the land, without the consent of Treaty 8 Nations. After decades of adamant refusal, the Province of British Columbia now acknowledges its role in wrongfully denying Treaty 8 First Nations the ability to use and benefit from their own lands. The province will transfer 109,385 acres of what it currently deems Crown land to the five First Nations, marking the first time the provincial government has agreed to the return of land as part of a specific claim settlement.
UBCIC Vice President Chief Don Tom stated, “I extend my best wishes to the members of Treaty 8 who have struggled for decades to see justice done regarding their outstanding land claim. This very positive outcome is a testament to the strength of Treaty 8 First Nations and their commitment to seek justice, despite years of federal and provincial intransigence. The federal and provincial governments’ decisions to right their past wrongs and uphold their legal obligations under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provide a reason to be optimistic about the resolution of specific claims from this point forward.”
UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer Chief Marilyn Slett echoed those sentiments: “I offer my profound congratulations to the Treaty 8 Nations. Now is the time to convey our deep respect for the Elders who began this fight, and to raise up our hands to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who can now focus on creating the new opportunities that this settlement makes possible.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca