Tla'amin the eighth modern treaty for B.C.
VICTORIA – Youthful members of the Tla'amin First Nation fought back tears Thursday as they joined elders and provincial officials to celebrate the end of a long road to a treaty with B.C. and Canada.
The Tla'amin treaty was introduced in the B.C. legislature for consideration Thursday after a narrowly approved ratification vote by Tla'amin members in the community north of Powell River last summer.
The Tla'amin (formerly Sliammon) treaty is the eighth modern-day agreement reached in B.C., most of which was left with treaties unresolved when agreements covering the rest of the country east of the Rocky Mountains were signed in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Tla'amin Chief Clint Williams noted that he was part of the treaty society that began negotiations under the new B.C. Treaty Commission process in 1994. Adoption of a new constitution means the 1000-member band's name will formally change from Sliammon to Tla'amin, dispensing with the historical name assigned to the community by federal officials long ago.
"The Sliammon people will be allowed to prosper now, will not be held down by the shackles of the dreaded Indian Act," Williams said. "The only way is up from here for the Tla'amin people."
The final agreement calls for a capital transfer of $29.7 million, economic development funding totalling $6.9 million and more than 8,000 hectares of treaty land transferred in fee simple title. The land includes 1,900 hectares of former Tla'amin reserve land and 6,405 hectares of provincial Crown land. Cash payments are provided by the federal government.
Since the Nisga'a treaty was established in 2000 outside the B.C. process, the B.C. Treaty Commission has produced treaties with five communities negotiating jointly as the Maa-Nulth First Nations on Vancouver Island, the Tsawwassen First Nation in the Lower Mainland and the Yale First Nation in the Fraser Canyon.
The Yale treaty is still awaiting approval by the federal parliament.