The Province of B.C. and McLeod Lake Indian Band have reached new agreements outlining how co-management and stewardship of the land and natural resources in the Nation’s territory will evolve.
“These agreements prioritize sustainability, fair distribution of benefits and Treaty Rights,” said Chief Harley Chingee, McLeod Lake Indian Band. “Not only will they benefit our present members, but they also ensure that future generations will inherit more prosperous and healthy land. We are committed to working collaboratively with Treaty 8 Nations and the Government of B.C.”
A letter of agreement and a revenue-sharing agreement were signed to guide joint work on assessing and managing the impacts of industrial development and creating a shared path forward for healing and restoring the land, while providing certainty to industry partners working with Nations in their territories.
“This is important work for all of us – it’s about leaving the land in a good way for future generations,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “Together with Chief Chingee and McLeod Lake Indian Band, we will make shared decisions on the land that ensure all Nation members can meaningfully exercise their Treaty Rights, while building a healthy and prosperous future for everyone.”
The agreements will bring new opportunities, including:
- a new revenue-sharing approach to support the priorities of McLeod Lake Indian Band;
- a multi-year shared restoration fund to help heal the land through restoration activities selected by the Nation;
- a new approach to wildlife co-management that promotes improved shared understanding and management of wildlife in areas of cultural importance to McLeod Lake;
- new land-use plans and protection measures;
- pilot projects to advance shared decision-making for planning and stewardship activities with other Treaty 8 Nations and the Province to address cumulative effects; and
- actions to promote education about Treaty 8 through collaborative promotion, anti-racism training and awareness building.
In January 2023, B.C. and four other Treaty 8 Nations signed similar agreements on a collaborative approach to land and resource planning, and to advance regional solutions to benefit everyone living in northeastern B.C. and Treaty 8 territory. The agreements follow a June 2021 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that determined that the constitutionally protected Treaty 8 rights of the Blueberry River First Nations were breached by the cumulative impacts of industrial development authorized by successive provincial governments over many years.
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“This work is about advancing our treaty relationship together. Through government-to-government collaboration and shared decision-making on the land, we will address the cumulative impacts of industrial development and bring forward collective solutions to benefit all those living in the northeast region of B.C.”
Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation –
“These agreements set up a new way for the Province of British Columbia and the McLeod Lake Indian Band to work together based on ongoing relationships, not one-off transactions. They set a collaborative table for both parties to discuss interests in revenue sharing, healing the land, development activities, economic opportunities and protection of Treaty Rights. This is the way of the future for natural-resource development in B.C. and for ongoing relationship-building with First Nations, and it will build greater predictability and stability across the landscape for British Columbians and industry.”
Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests –
“Agreements like this solidify our commitment to ensuring First Nations are partners in determining how resources on their territory are managed. Hearing from the people who live on this land is one of the best ways we can collaborate on the best stewardship practices for the region. The McLeod Lake Indian Band continues to be an important partner in the forestry sector as we work to protect Nations’ traditional rights.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“These agreements demonstrate how reconciliation, economic development and climate action can go forward hand-in-hand in our province. These agreements allow us to work together supporting industrial development in an environmentally responsible way. This will also mean substantial positive economic benefits and jobs for the McLeod Lake Indian Band.”
- McLeod Lake Indian Band adhered to Treaty 8 in 1999 and this was legally confirmed in 2000 with the Mcleod Lake Indian Band Treaty No. 8 Adhesion and Settlement Agreement Act: https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/00008_01
- Other Treaty 8 Nations that signed agreements with the Province in January 2023 include: Blueberry River, Fort Nelson, Saulteau, Halfway River and Doig River First Nations.