A landmark reconciliation agreement will see the Lake Babine Nation, receive millions of dollars in direct benefits including 20,000 hectares of land worth nearly $150 million.
The 20-year foundation agreement was signed virtually by Chief Gordon Alec, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Scott Fraser, and Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, on Friday, Sept. 18.
“They are an important reminder of why we have worked so hard over many years to get to this day,” Chief Alec said of Lake Babine Nation children and youth, thanking them for their opening prayer.
“This day is for them because it is our job to create a better future – a future where children and grandchildren may live their lives in self-determination with a benefit of their Aboriginal title and in health and a dignified relationship with British Columbia, Canada and their citizens.”
The B.C. government said the agreement provides immediate land and financial benefits totalling approximately $200 million, while setting the stage to negotiate further agreements such as self-government and Aboriginal title.
“The land provides a foundation for a new wealth and independence for Lake Babine Nation,” Alec said, noting the agreement also provides $43 million in funding over five years for economic development and program enhancement.
Comprised of five communities near Burns Lake including Old Fort, Tachet, Fort Babine, Woyenne and Donald’s Landing, the Babine Nation has over 2,500 members.
“We sign this agreement today without sacrificing our rights, our title and our future interests and the rest of our territory,” Alec said.
Through the agreement, the participation of Lake Babine Nation in the forestry sector, which is an economic pillar in B.C.’s northern central Interior, will increase.