Chilliwack MP Mark Strahl supports Yale treaty

Federal MP weighs in on treaty dispute between Yale and Sto:lo First Nations

The dispute between the Sto:lo and Yale First Nations over a treaty that’s now at the federal government for final ratification can be resolved peacefully, says Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl.

“I hope both sides will take a step back and continue to participate in the process in a peaceful manner,” he said.

Last week, leaders of the Sto:lo Nation and Sto:lo Tribal Council put aside their political differences and joined forces to demonstrate their mutual dissatisfaction with the Yale treaty at a meeting of the First Nations Summit attended by BC Treaty Commissioners.

Strahl, who has met with leaders from both sides of the dispute, said he supports the Yale treaty “in principle.”

He said there is “unprecedented” language in the treaty that guarantees the Sto:lo “reasonable access” to traditional fishing sites in the Fraser Canyon and to their sacred cultural sites, which are at the centre of the dispute.

“It’s unprecedented that a First Nation negotiated a treaty and then modified it in favour of another group,” he said. “The Yale cannot deny reasonable access to the Sto:lo or to any other group.”

Linda Duncan, NDP aboriginal affairs critic, said she has also met with the Sto:lo and Yale leaders, but she wouldn’t give her opinion of the treaty, which hasn’t yet come before MPs in Ottawa.

“I’m not going to state any opinion,” she said, “but what’s becoming clear is the government should be stepping up to the plate to find a neutral mechanism” to resolve the dispute.

“The sad thing is it looks like the government has this pattern … where they just sort of abandon First Nations with overlapping claims,” she said. “This (Yale/Sto:lo dispute) isn’t the only one we’re seeing.”

The Sto:lo also dispute Yale’s claim to be a separate and distinct tribal group, and should therefore have no right to make treaty that involves Sto:lo aboriginal rights and title in their traditional territory.

Particularly stinging to the Sto:lo is the apparent permission they need to get from the Yale chief to access sacred cultural sites and family fishing spots.

The level of mistrust between the two sides is palpable and has led to violent confrontations in the past at dry rack fishing sites and at a Sto:lo cemetery.

BC Treaty Commission spokesman Brian Mitchell said “several efforts” have been made to bring the two sides together “without any real success to date,” but those efforts will continue.

The commission has used other means of resolving overlapping claims, he said, including funding “experts” to mediate agreements and in some cases asking native elders to resolve differences using traditional laws and protocols.

But he said the commission won’t hold back a First Nation that’s on the verge of finalizing a treaty. The Yale have been in treaty talks for 18 years.

Duncan said it’s her “impression” that the federal government has an obligation to First Nations to ensure that any overlapping claims are settled before a draft treaty is concluded.

“That would be my impression,” she said.

But the “bigger issue” is the federal government is “not living up to the treaties they’ve already signed,” she charged.

According to the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, the federal government is “fulfilling neither its agreements in full under these (treaty) agreements, nor their spirit and intent.”

The Inuit of Nunavut is suing the federal government for $1 billion related to “failures to implement fully the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement,” the coalition said.

Related Stories:

Yale treaty sets stage for conflict: Sto:lo

Yale treaty is B.C.’s toughest test yet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Chilliwack hopes to re-start public consultation

A new survey asks residents if they’re ready to discuss projects not related to COVID-19

UPDATE: Missing girl in Chilliwack’s Promontory neighborhood found

A 13-year-old child was missing from early Monday morning to 4:30 in the afternoon

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Most Read