Peter Jones

Sts’ailes sign important document with government bodies

MOU will allow better economic opportunities for First Nation band

Sts’ailes First Nation leaders sat down with several provincial government officials on Tuesday afternoon, to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the stewardship of the Sts’ailes land and resources.

“We are starting to see the daylight,” Sts’ailes Chief Willie Charlie said before the ceremony. “We are starting to see the end of the tunnel.”

The MOU brings together numerous bodies within the government, including the ministry of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, the ministry transportation and infrastructure, the ministry forest lands and natural resource operations and the ministry of children and family development.

No ministers were on hand for the signing, however, Charlie said it was important to see the people who worked with the Sts’ailes band on a day-to-day basis, making the MOU a reality.

One of those “on the ground” representatives was Allan Johnsrude, district manager of the Chilliwack Resource District, a body of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“This is an important event,” Johnsrude said. “It furthers a relationship we started with the First Nation (about five years ago). We’ve really developed a level of respect for each other.”

One of the changes that have been over the past year include a name change of the band, from Chehalis to the traditional name Sts’ailes. Very soon, the name of Harrison West Road will officially be changed to Sts’ailes Forest Service Road.

It’s a small but significant change, as the road bi-sects their traditional territory, Johnsrude said.

He acknowledged that in the past, it has been very difficult for those outside the government to communicate properly with people within the government. The MOU is one way to make those communications easier.

The MOU has started a process in which the Sts’ailes can work alongside the province, businesses, aboriginal and non-aboriginal neighbours, while continuing to exercise the rights to their traditional land.

Chief Charlie was the lead negotiator for the Sts’ailes, said the MOU “should provide certainty for us, certainty for the Province, and certainty for businesses wishing to work in our territory, all through a streamlined process.”

While Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliations was not at the ceremony, a press release stated her thoughts on the MOU.

“(It) creates a strategy for collaboration that will allow the Sts’ailes to take advantage of economic opportunities in the Fraser Valley, while providing more certainty over the use of land and natural resources. Chief Charlie has long demonstrated his commitment to addressing the health, social and economic needs of his community. I commend the negotiators from both Sts’ailes and the Province for taking this innovative approach.”

This MOU includes diverse initiatives such as forestry opportunities, road trespass, land exchanges, hydroelectric projects, tourism, conservation, coordinated consultation, child and family services, and health care—all of which form the basis for future government-to-government agreements.

“Sts’ailes Chief and Council has created a long range vision for the people of Sts’ailes that will not only contribute to the health, well being and prosperity of our people and land but will be mutually beneficial to our neighbours,” Charlie said.

news@ahobserver.com

 

 

 

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

Just Posted

Chilliwack to remember D-Day veterans on 76th anniversary of Normandy landing

Thousands died June 6, 1944, coming ashore on beaches in France while facing heavy German resistance

Road washout affecting section of Highway No. 3 near Manning Park

Road maintenance crews are on the scene, with an almost two kilometre long stretch impacted

Column: Patience and persistence required with green technology

Solar panels and wind farms aren’t yet where we need them to be, but does that mean we give up?

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Caretakers say goodbye to Gwynne Vaughan heritage house in Chilliwack after 17 years

Larry and Vicky Graitson have seen a lot of changes at the community park over the years

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Abbotsford’s UFV gym now without a sponsor

Partnership with Envision Financial ends, school seeking new organizations to partner with

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Most Read