Leaders of six Sto:lo communities from across the Fraser Valley signed an MOU agreement Saturday in the Leq’á:mel community with provincial and federal reps taking the next steps toward a final treaty. (Submitted)

Leaders of six Sto:lo communities from across the Fraser Valley signed an MOU agreement Saturday in the Leq’á:mel community with provincial and federal reps taking the next steps toward a final treaty. (Submitted)

Six Sto:lo chiefs sign MOU agreement affirming Indigenous rights

Moving to next phase of nation-to-nation negotiation in preparation for final treaty

It’s an agreement 20 years in the making.

Leaders from six Sto:lo communities across the Fraser Valley signed an MOU agreement Saturday with provincial and federal reps that was focused on inherent rights and paves the way to a final treaty settlement.

“Our goal has been to get out from under the Indian Act and to assert our lawmaking authority on S’ólh Téméxw, our land,” said Chief Terry Horne of Yakweakwioose First Nation.

“We do this today for our children tomorrow,” Chief Horne said about the agreement signed Oct. 13 in a ceremony in the Leq’á:mel community.

READ MORE: Six communities along the river

The six of 11 Sto:lo communities of Sto:lo Nation, have been involved in the stage 5 treaty process for years and “are pleased to now be entering into “final negotiations” for a ground-breaking treaty, Horne added. The MOU takes the place of an agreement-in-principle.

Ideally it would be within five years that they’d reach the final agreement, the chief said.

The signatories of the MOU agreed to develop a “core” treaty tackling the constitutional relationship, self-government, land ownership and jurisdiction.

Four of the six nations to sign are from the Chilliwack area.

The six chiefs of the Stó:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association (SXTA), along with senior government ministers, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) guided by the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

It’s being heralded as a “new and innovative” approach to modern treaty.

“This memorandum of understanding is the result of years of hard work on the part of the Stó:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association, with the governments of Canada and British Columbia,” said Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

READ MORE: Pilot project for Sto:lo

“This is a key milestone towards a treaty that is consistent with Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to the recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights.”

It’s recognition that those rights cannot be extinguished or surrendered, underlining the true significance when something is recognized as being on “unceded” territory. It also shifts from seeking a full and final treaty settlement and starts with the “core” elements.

“Instead, this new approach builds a collaborative and predictable ongoing government-to-government relationship that can adapt to changing circumstances over time, as policies evolve or new rights are established by the courts, for example,” according to the press release about the MOU.

The administrative and operational matters, like program delivery and government administration, would be included in subsequent agreements, which are more easily amended than current treaties.

Some aspects of the MOU may be finalized at a later date.

The treaty organization, SXTA represents six Stó:lo communities:

• Athélets/Aitchelitz, led by Skemi (Angie Bailey)

• Leq’á:mel, led by Mae’xe (Alice Thompson)

• Sq’ewá:lxw/Skawahlook, led by Shxwetélemel-elhót (Maureen Chapman)

• Sq’ewqéyl/Skowkale, led by Lexhalten (Mark Point)

• Ch’iyáqtel/Tzeachten, led by Welí’leq (Derek Epp)

• Yeqwyeqwí:ws/Yakweakwioose, led by Siyémches (Terry Horne)


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
Harrison woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

A nurse prepares to vaccinate healthcare workers at a COVID-19 drive-thru immunization site in Coquitlam in this image supplied to the media by Fraser Health on March 8, 2021. (Fraser Health)
OPINION: 97-year-old Chilliwack man gets his COVID vaccination appointment

Call centre inundated with 1.7 million calls while there are just 50,000 folks over 90 in B.C.

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Man dead after single vehicle collision in Surrey; speed possible factor

Police say vehicle collided with telephone pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Most Read