2021 Year In Review
Innovations in Negotiations
Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, negotiating tables have continued to make progress and significant innovations were achieved over the last year. Four innovative tripartite agreements were reached in 2021: Tlowitsis Nation Transition to Stage 5 Memorandum of Understanding, Snuneymuxw Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding, Gitanyow Governance Accord, and the Haida GayGahlda “Changing Tide” Framework for Reconciliation.
These four agreements, signed between First Nations, Canada, and BC, emphasize key negotiation principles such as: recognition of Indigenous title and rights; recognition and support of self-determination and self-government; treaties and agreements as flexible, living documents; and treaties and agreements as mechanisms to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
For summaries of these innovative agreements, read the BC Treaty Commission’s 2021 Annual Report.
Public Information and Education
Each year, the BC Treaty Commission undertakes a variety of initiatives, engagements, and presentations to support public awareness. This year, educational campaigns were run across social media channels and in collaboration with other organizations. September 30 marked the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The Treaty Commission joined the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation for its national Truth and Reconciliation Week to raise awareness and have important conversations on reconciliation, residential schools and treaties. Throughout the year, the Chief Commissioner, Commissioners, and staff delivered a variety of virtual and in-person presentations to gatherings of First Nations, government, industry, youth, and legal professionals. Presentations were made to Legal Aid BC, Deloitte, Metro Vancouver, the University of British Columbia, Massey College, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and other organizations.
The BC Treaty Commission also hosted two virtual roundtable forums for First Nations in the treaty process. These brought together First Nations, subject experts, and government officials to discuss the enforcement of Indigenous laws, and section 87 tax exemptions. The BC Treaty Commission is planning to host more forums in the upcoming year.
In 2020, the BC Treaty Commission partnered with the Gordon Foundation and other partners to create the Understanding Our Treaties. This website aims to engage emerging leaders to learn about treaties through interactive, hands-on learning experiences. Further developing this partnership, the BC Treaty Commission collaborated with Gordon Foundation and the Land Claims Agreement Coalition to host the third National Treaty Negotiation and Implementation Simulation in March 2021. This virtual four-day simulation provided 16 young Indigenous leaders the opportunity to work together with expert advisors from across Canada, to engage in hands-on learning about treaty negotiation and implementation.
The BC Treaty Commission will continue to develop and deliver treaty simulation materials and BC-specific programming in the upcoming year.
Policy and Legislation
In June, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPA), signifying an important step forward in implementation the UN Declaration in Canada. The Act affirms and upholds the rights of Indigenous peoples as recognized by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the UN Declaration. It commits the Government of Canada to, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, to taking “all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the [UN Declaration].” The federal government will develop a national action plan to ensure this commitment is fulfilled. UNDRIPA further emphasizes that “all relations with Indigenous peoples must be based on the recognition and implementation of the inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government” in its preamble.
In BC, negotiations tables are already integrating the UN Declaration into negotiations, further supported through the Province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and the Recognition and Reconciliation of Rights Policy for Treaty Negotiations in British Columbia.
The BC Treaty Commission recognizes both governments for their work in passing these integral pieces of legislation, both of which will uphold the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration and whose action plans will support the advancement of meaningful reconciliation.
For more information about treaty negotiations and the work of the BC Treaty Commission, see our 2021 Annual Report.