* MEDIA RELEASE *
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Leadership Optimistic in Lead up to Vote on Advancing Treaty Process
February 4, 2016 - NORTHERN SECWEPEMC TERRITORY - The Board of Directors of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTC), which represents four Northern Shuswap communities including Canim Lake Indian Band (Tsq’escen’), Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc), Soda Creek Indian Band (Xats’ūll) and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek / Dog Creek Indian Bands) is encouraging all members to ensure they are informed and ready to get out and vote February 11, 2016 on whether the communities should advance from stage 4 to stage 5 of the BC Treaty Process.
Northern Secwepemc communities have been engaged in the BC Treaty process as a group since 1994, and are now at the end of Stage 4, Agreement-in-Principle. The steps of the BC Treaty Process are as follows: Stage 1-Statement of Intent to Negotiate. Stage 2-Readiness to Negotiate. Stage 3-Negotiation of the Framework Agreement. Stage 4-Agreement in Principle. Stage 5-Final Agreement Negotiations. Stage 6-Implementation of Treaty
In the Agreement-in-Principle stage of treaty, communities map out and finalize many of the topics that will be included in the final treaty, including things like lands, governance, taxes and process. To move forward from stage 4 into stage 5 which will allow Northern Secwepemc communities to negotiate and finalize the treaty agreement, leadership has determined that a mandate or vote from community members is needed in support of continuing the process. If communities agree to move forward into stage 5 (final negotiations), another vote would be held once final negotiations are completed – before entering stage 6, which is the ‘implementation’ of the final treaty and all the changes and benefits that come with it.
“We are very proud as leadership to be able to offer community members the opportunity to vote on whether to move forward in the treaty process, as many other communities around BC who have been involved in treaty negotiations in the past have not asked for a vote at this step,” said NSTC Board Chair and Soda Creek Indian Band Chief, Donna Dixon. “We felt it was important to ensure that our members were engaged in this way and have spent the past eight months speaking directly to communities to ensure they understand all of the benefits and changes that would come with treaty so they can make an informed choice.”
Dixon added: “The treaty process is important because it provides our communities with the ability to act as our own government and interact with other governments with respected authority, it recognizes and allows for the preservation, protection, and enhancement of our peoples’ heritage, language and culture and also ensures our ability to own and make decisions about our lands. We have been telling our members that this is about using their voice, to express their choice about their future – it’s critical that they turn out to vote.”
There will be five polling stations across the four communities open from 9am to 8pm on February 11, 2016. Details of locations and other logistics will be shared with members early next week. Results from the vote will be available February 12, 2016.
For more information about the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, the treaty process or to arrange a media interview, contact:
o Donna Dixon, Chair, NSTC Board of Directors