Officials attend a signing ceremony on the reconciliation agreement between the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and British Columbia government in Victoria, on March 28. Cheslatta Chief Corinna Leween (third from left) stands with premier John Horgan and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad. (Submitted photo)

Cheslatta inks accord with BC over flooding of lands

The Cheslatta Carrier Nation has signed a settlement agreement and reconciliation agreement with the British Columbia government related to the flooding of traditional lands in the 1950s.

The signing on March 28 in Victoria followed a referendum the First Nation conducted with its membership, which endorsed the Cheslatta Community Trust and the progress of the negotiations with B.C.

“This historic agreement with the Province of B.C. will help address long-standing issues that have adversely impacted our traditional territory since the construction of the Kenney Dam and creation of the Nechako Reservoir,” Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief Corrina Leween said in a joint press release on April 17 from her First Nation and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

“For 67 years, the Cheslatta people have worked tirelessly to achieve resolution and reconciliation to this historic wrong. This agreement honours the justice our ancestors and previous leadership spent their lives fighting for. Now, we are positioned to begin the healing process and to advance the social and economic standing of our people for generations to come.”

“We’ve been in that [negotiations] process for about four and a half years now,” Leween told Lakes District News. “We have taken it upon ourselves as chief and council to create a comprehensive community plan and make direction on where to go in rebuilding our community and there’s a trust agreement to secure funds for future generations.”

LOOK BACK: Update given on Cheslatta compensation

Voting on the negotiations process took place in the Southside community and through mail-in ballot for off-reserve members.

“Then we had the count. One hundred per cent ratification out of 167. That’s unheard of to get 100 per cent,” Leween said.

According to the joint news release,”Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Cheslatta will propose certain lands for transfer and tenures. A period of extensive engagement with neighbouring First Nations and stakeholders will proceed before final land parcels can be determined.”

Under the settlement, the Cheslatta will receive payments over a 10-year period and a commitment from B.C. to future land transfers and tenures. It marks a “full and final settlement” of Cheslatta claims against the province related to effects of the Nechako Reservoir.

The financial details of the settlement will be confidential for one year.

In terms of land, the agreement “does not contain commitments to transfer or tenure specific parcels of Crown land. Cheslatta will identify lands for consideration, which will then be subject to detailed analysis and extensive engagement with neighbouring First Nations and stakeholders before any decisions are made by the Province.”

The Interim Reconciliation Agreement includes funding of $200,000 per year for 10 years for jointly agreed upon projects related to protected areas of fish and wildlife and watershed and heritage restoration in Cheslatta’s traditional territory.

It also includes a pledge to work together to support the First Nation’s cultural and language revitalization.

In 1952 Cheslatta lands and burial sites were damaged or submerged when the Nechako reservoir was filled as part of Alcan’s Kemano power project. The company is now known as Rio Tinto Alcan.

The Cheslatta people were given little notice of the flooding and were forced to relocate.

Rio Tinto was not part of the latest negotiations with the Cheslatta, but in 2012 the two parties signed an agreement that saw the return of 11,000 acres of traditional land to the First Nation.

READ MORE: Rio Tinto Alcan returns Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s traditional territory

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Just Posted

CN train derailment cleared between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment mid-way between… Continue reading

Trial finishes for suspect in Burns Lake man’s murder

Closing submissions concluded at the Supreme Court in Prince George on July… Continue reading

Lightning starts nine small fires on July 5-7

Several wildfires started in the Northwest Fire Centre region over the July… Continue reading

Mill blast safety measures review ends

The government is wrapping up a review on how industries and other… Continue reading

Magician wows Burns Lake children

Magician Leif David entertained dozens of children in the Burns Lake Public… Continue reading

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Most Read