The federal and British Columbia governments and the Lake Babine First Nation have signed a three-way agreement on reconciliation, according to a news release on Dec. 14 from the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
Lake Babine Chief Gordon Alec, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, and B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser signed the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding to Guide Rights Implementation and Reconciliation Negotiations.
The accord “frames negotiations for a long-term agreement to progressively implement Lake Babine Nation’s inherent title and rights, including the inherent right of self-government” and promotes regional economic growth and community well-being.
This new Foundation Agreement seeks to change the relationship between Lake Babine and the Crown by setting out new goals to complete over a 25-year period.
The main issues under negotiation are land, natural resource decision-making, forestry, Lake Babine governance, child and family well-being, justice, and education and language.
“This negotiation is about how to implement Lake Babine’s inherent rights in true partnership with the Crown,” said Gordon Alec, Chief of Lake Babine First Nation.
“My Nation is pleased to finally be negotiating towards an agreement with both B.C. and Canada that would honour our rights and title, help us heal from the legacies of colonialism and allow us to take a leadership role in growing the regional economy. This work is urgent and of the highest priority for Lake Babine.”
The three governments have expressed common interest in cooperating, building strong government-to-government relationships, and ensuring their efforts are in harmony with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and case law, including the Tsilhqot’in Aboriginal title decision.
Alec was elected chief of Lake Babine in July.