photo by Nicole Trigg/The Echo (l-r) Federal chief negotiator Bryan Smith

Ktunaxa agreement-in-principle presented to public

The Ktunaxa Nation is one of nine First Nations in B.C. in the advanced stage of treaty negotiations.

The Ktunaxa Nation is one of nine First Nations in B.C. in the advanced stage of treaty negotiations with the governments of Canada and British Columbia. On October 1, a series of public information sessions to present the most up-to-date information to the public in the Kootenay and Columbia River regions began in Invermere.

“The purpose of this set of public information sessions is actually a consultation being conducted by Canada and B.C.,” Ktunaxa Nation chair Kathryn Teneese told The Valley Echo. “Canada and B.C. made an offer to us and we’ve conditionally accepted it, which means now that they are involved in a consultation process with their constituents.”

After more than a decade of negotiations, the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council (KKTC) accepted a land and cash offer by the provincial and federal governments in October 2010 as the basis for continued negotiations in February 2012.

“They ( the land parcels) are part of the land available that we worked together to determine that could be included in the offer,” said Teneese, adding that the parcels were characterized as available Crown land.

“The agreement, what I’ve always said, is not a real estate deal, there’s much more to it than just dealing with the parcels,” she said. “Agreement on the parcels doesn’t mean that we have an agreement on all of the aspects; there’s a number of other issues that we’re working on at the table to try and come to some  conclusion about.”

Information on the land parcels is currently limited to the series of consultation sessions and will not be publicly available until such time that an agreement in principle is complete.

District of Invermere councillor Spring Hawes, who attended the Invermere session, said that after viewing maps of the specific parcels, she was a little surprised to discover there wasn’t more.

“You hear a lot of rumours around and people are afraid I think, and I was expecting that there would be a lot more land being discussed,” she said. “It seemed like they went to great lengths to choose, to find parcels that wouldn’t affect any private interests at all and they protected the access across them.

“Nothing that they showed seemed like it should cause problems for anyone.”

According to the BC Treaty Commission 2012 Annual Report released on October 10, two First Nations in B.C. have implemented treaty agreements, six are in varying advanced stages after completing agreements-in-principle, nine — including Ktunaxa Nation — are in advanced agreement-in-principle negotiations, while 23 are engaged in active treaty negotiations.

“What we’ve been hearing from people is that because we’re at the stage we’re at — we’ve been reporting on these things all the years that we’ve been involved in the process — a lot of people are saying we’re comfortable with the direction that’s being taken,” Teenese said. “The expectation is that the treaty is a framework for our ongoing relationship far into the future.”

The public consultation sessions for the KKTC treaty negotiations end on Thursday (October 25) at the Heritage Inn Ballroom in Cranbrook. Doors will  be open from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and the presentation starts at 7 p.m.

For the complete BC Treaty Commission 2012 Annual Report, visit www.bctreaty.net.