First I would like to acknowledge the Tsawwassen First Nation as well as thank the committee for the invitation for the treaty commission to come and briefly present this morning from a modern treaty perspective.
The key point I would like to raise is that the treaty commission is the independent body that oversees negotiations for the reconciliation of indigenous rights through modern treaties. The evolution of case law in Canada and, internationally, the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples have further clarified that treaty negotiations are a constitutional imperative mandated by section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. As such, the treaty commission's role is critically important in assisting the three parties, Canada, British Columbia, and indigenous nations, to live up to this constitutional and legal imperative. A new era of recognition of indigenous rights is at hand, and the B.C. treaty negotiations process is well placed to embrace this change and leave the country in reconciliation. Reconciling must not only include the sharing of land and resources but also the sharing the jurisdiction, the sharing of sovereignty.
True self-determination for indigenous peoples, as mandated by section 35 of our Constitution and the UN declaration, cannot happen without it. I understand the importance of your committee's work and the questions that you're trying to answer when it comes to nationhood, nation to nation, as well as proper title and rights holders.
For starters, the recognition of indigenous rights must be a lasting nation-to-nation relationship through treaty negotiations, which requires the recognition of indigenous rights, not extinguishment. The notion of extinguishment has been rejected outright by indigenous peoples participating in negotiations and has no place in modern-day treaties. The treaty commission recommends continuing to support the ongoing work of rights recognition because this is a fundamental component of reconciliation. The rights recognition mandate must be at treaty negotiation tables, and at the heart of nationhood is the thorny issue of overlap and shared territory.
Overlap disputes between indigenous peoples interfere with the implementation of the declaration by disrupting negotiations and slowing the advancement and implementation of treaties and reconciliations in general. These issues are made more complicated by the fracturing of indigenous peoples by colonialism and the creation of colonial and neo-colonial indigenous entities.
Indigenous peoples are best placed to resolve overlapping and shared territory issues amongst themselves. These issues and their resolution have been a part of traditional indigenous governance for thousands of years. It's an essential function for self-determination and self-governance. The treaty commission has been involved in this type of work, supporting nations and engaging with nations to resolve their territory and overlap issues. We have some examples, and I would be more than happy to discuss this issue later on. We also covered it in our previous annual report that looked at shared territory and overlap issues, which are best resolved amongst indigenous nations. That's why one of our recommendations to the Government of Canada is that there be dedicated funding to support first nations' or indigenous nations' efforts to resolve shared territory and overlap issues.
I'll provide a brief update as to where the status of treaty negotiations are in British Columbia. We have 14 first nations in advanced negotiations with seven nations in final agreement stages. We have seven nations in advanced AIP negotiations. Five of these are multi-community with several Indian Act bands coming together to build their vision of nationhood.
These efforts must be supported and are Canada's best opportunities to advance reconciliation in their nation-to-nation relationship. The completion of several of these advanced negotiations is possible within the next two years. To accomplish this, political will is needed from all parties. From the federal government, this political will must mean that the current efforts and energy devoted to reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationships as expressed in the 10 principles must find their way to these advanced treaty negotiations.
Another way to advance these negotiations is with a recommendation that the treaty commission puts forward, around loan funding. The required borrowing provisions in the comprehensive claims policy must be eliminated for given loans that are currently outstanding to communities that have been engaged in treaty negotiations. There is, I know, a lot of work happening at the federal level to address this issue. To the extent that any community has repaid any portion of its loans, that community should be reimbursed for those funds.
Reconciliation is a shared prosperity, and from the treaty commission's perspective, reconciliation means a true sharing of prosperity: of lands; of resources; of economic, social, and cultural as well as governmental space. Nowhere does the sharing of prosperity become more of a reality than at the community, local, and regional levels. Understanding that shared prosperity has the ability to advance reconciliation significantly in British Columbia and in Canada. When a first nation prospers, the entire region prospers—the theme of our 2017 annual report. My understanding is that a copy of our 2017 annual report has been provided to the committee.
The treaty commission has long held the view that modern treaties, when fairly negotiated and honourably implemented, are a successful mechanism for the protection and reconciliation of indigenous rights and can generate significant economic benefits for indigenous peoples as well as for the local, regional, provincial, and Canadian governments and their communities.
If we're going to maximize the full potential that treaties bring to advancing reconciliation, then consideration needs to be given to addressing some of the recommendations the treaty commission has provided in both our verbal as well as our written submission.
I will turn briefly to my colleague Tom, who will share his perspective on implementing a modern treaty within his community.
Hay ce:p qa’.
Thank you, Madam Chief Commissioner.
First of all I want to bring your attention to the annual report. On the front cover is a photo from the Tsawwassen First Nation, who are implementing their treaty. You'll note that the very first section is about the Tsawwassen First Nation's treaty. I just want you to have a look at that.
Several years ago, a big wind storm blew trees down in Stanley Park here in Vancouver. We have a beautiful campground setting right on our beach, Pachena Bay, and it also blew some trees down there. We were still under the Indian Act. It took us seven months to get permission from the minister in Ottawa just to move those trees from the campground to a playing field in the middle of our village. Then we had to get permission to sell them. Luckily, we have a really great relationship with the forest company, and they purchase all the wood that our Huu-ay-aht forestry company produces. We sold the trees, and the money went into our trust account in Ottawa. That's when, through proposals to the minister, we were able to beg for access to that money. The money was still in the hands of the Minister of Indian Affairs in Ottawa.
I spent 20 years at the Maa-nulth Final Agreement negotiations. We concluded our treaty, and our implementation date was April 1, 2011. We're six years into implementation now. We are close to the community of Bamfield. The West Coast Trail ends up in our village. We now own the local store, the local restaurant, the local motel, the local pub, two fishing charter resorts, the airport, and we have our campground, our forest company, and fishing licences. We are free from the shackles of the Indian Act and are now just blossoming into nationhood.
I wanted to share that story with you.
[Witness speaks in Ktunaxa
First of all, I acknowledge Tsawwassen First Nation for allowing us to do this important business on their territory.
Also, thank you for the opportunity to make a presentation to you in your study on specific claims and comprehensive land claims agreements.
We have prepared a kit for you with a USB that includes my speaking points; the summit's submission to the federal working group of ministers on the review of laws and policies related to indigenous peoples and a list of recommendations that form part of that report; the national treaty loan amounts described for you; principles of a new first nations-crown fiscal relationship, a stand-alone document; a copy of the British Columbia Claims Task Force report; and copies of the British Columbia Treaty Commission Act and the Treaty Commission Act, B.C.
As a bit of background on the First Nations Summit, we were established in 1993 to support first nations' engagement in the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework. The First Nations Summit is one of the three principals, along with Canada and British Columbia.
Our mandate arises from the tripartite 1991 B.C. Claims Task Force report, which was jointly developed by first nations, Canada, and B.C.; the 1992 agreement to set up the B.C. Treaty Commission as the independent body to facilitate treaty negotiations; and subsequent federal and provincial legislation and the First Nations Summit chiefs' resolutions.
The summit is the only body with the exclusive mandate to support first nations in conducting their own direct treaty negotiations with Canada and B.C. A critical element of the summit's efforts includes the identification of concrete, actionable steps to overcome negotiation barriers. In first nations-crown treaty negotiations with B.C., we are facing a number of process and substantive issues that pose significant challenges in treaty negotiations and must be overcome in order to reach treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements.
Addressing process and substantive negotiation issues and barriers must be undertaken in the context of implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Any review and redesign of the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework or any federal or provincial initiative that might impact the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework, including review and revision of Canada's comprehensive claims policy and related laws and policies, must include the summit from the outset and be consistent with the United Nations declaration and existing case law.
As to some key federal and provincial commitments, the summit acknowledges that we are currently discussing these important issues with the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in a new political and legal environment that has important implications on these discussions. The summit welcomes the federal and provincial governments' unequivocal commitment to implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and parallel reviews of federal and provincial legislation. Further, B.C. has made the welcome and necessary commitment to implement the historic Tsilhqot'in Nation decision regarding aboriginal title and rights issues.
We collectively have a historic opportunity to positively and dramatically transform the relationship between all levels of government and first nations government. There is absolutely nothing to fear in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action and in the human rights standards in the United Nations declaration. We must put our minds together and combine our collective best efforts for constructive and long-lasting solutions.
Yesterday, during the reconciliation walk, the Attorney General of Canada, , once again reaffirmed and recommitted that in order to have a positive crown-indigenous relationship, we must do it together.
In terms of our path forward and opportunities for collaboration, the summit takes this opportunity to highlight that full and effective collaboration from the outset of undertaking this important work is consistent with key international instruments and documents as outlined in the 46 articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the outcome document of the September 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, all three of which Canada has agreed to.
As we move forward, what is required to accomplish transformation of barriers and challenges is new attitudes and tone in leadership and in the bureaucracy as a whole.
This work requires strong, bold leadership from all levels of government, including those bodies monitoring government initiatives. In this regard, the summit is optimistic about the perceptible shift in leadership at the federal level, with Canada's new 10 principles guiding its relationship with indigenous peoples, as well as the recent dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of the two new ministries: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Indigenous Services. These are a hopeful sign that Canada is serious about decolonizing its approach to indigenous issues, and to building a new relationship from a more appropriate foundation.
In reflecting on Canada's commitment to achieving reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change, we stress the recognition of aboriginal rights, especially through mechanisms such as modern-day treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements.
The summit has prepared a 50-page submission, which sets out key perspectives on the status of treaty negotiations in B.C. and key challenges and barriers. Further, it contains 30 recommendations to transform first nations-crown treaty negotiations in B.C., as well as highlighting key intersections between treaty negotiations and the new federal framework for reconciliation, including the reform of Canada's laws and policies.
In 1991, the B.C. claims task force reported, and the subsequent made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework was established in response to the profound failures of the federal government's comprehensive claims policies, which required first nations to prove their connection to their lands through a cumbersome and inappropriate process. The task force report provided a blueprint for a new and different made-in-B.C. negotiations framework. The policy-set direction in the task force report has over time been displaced by Canada's increasing reliance on its pre-existing, outdated, and unacceptable comprehensive claims policy. The intrastate negotiations have become position-based, as government bureaucrats are assigned to oversee the process, and in many cases, negotiate treaties. This is not helpful or conducive to reconciliation.
The summit continues to remain mindful of the Supreme Court of Canada's statements at paragraphs 20 and 38 of the Haida Nation v. British Columbia judgment, which provide that “Treaties serve to reconcile pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty with assumed Crown sovereignty” and also that “negotiations, the preferred process for achieving ultimate reconciliation”.
The BCTC, established in 1992 by agreements among the principles, which are summit, Canada, and B.C., started its operations in 1993. Its role is set out in the B.C. Treaty Commission Agreement, and in ratifying legislation and resolution of the principles. The BCTC's independence is a fundamental component of the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework. Among other responsibilities, the BCTC facilitates negotiations in B.C., a role that could be expanded to include dispute resolutions.
At various points in time since the inception of the BCTC, concern has been raised that Canada and B.C. have encroached too closely on the independence of the treaty commission. The summit continues to advocate that Canada and B.C. must meaningfully commit to fully respecting the independence of the B.C. Treaty Commission's allocation of negotiation support funding, and the principles that no one party should have unilateral control over first nations-crown treaty negotiations in B.C., and no party should have its expenditures reviewed by another party to the negotiations.
To provide important context about the importance of the made-in-B.C. treaty negotiations framework, it should be noted that 57 of the 99—or 58%—of the comprehensive land claim and self-government negotiating tables are in British Columbia.
This is all about relationships. We seek Canada's and B.C.'s commitment to take a leadership role in working toward reconciliation with first nations in B.C., including the negotiations of viable, fair, workable, and equitable treaties, agreements, and other constructive arrangements. It is not always about full comprehensive treaties; it can be a number of arrangements. Further in this regard, we are seeking Canada's commitment to a process that will ensure the decisions of the courts relating to lands, territories, and resources are fully implemented. We also seek Canada's commitment to finding creative solutions and working toward reconciliation and moving beyond dialogue regarding barriers to negotiations, and to the implementation of agreed concrete commitments, and to implementing steps to overcome challenges. We can see 30 recommendations in our submission related to that.
Governments must provide space for engaging bodies, such as the First Nations Summit, the first nations governments, and other key parties in developing instructions concerning the scope and content of the mandate.
The last point I wanted to make is about our negotiation support funding. Very quickly, that support funding is a hindrance to first nations in the negotiation process. There needs to be serious consideration given to the forgiveness of all existing treaty loans. To date, they total $528 million across Canada. We know that mounting debt is deducted from the final capital transfer payment, which erodes the net value of the treaty. There is also tremendous uncertainty regarding what happens to the debt if the parties are unable to reach a treaty.
. I am Chief Judy Wilson from the Neskonlith Indian Band. I'm the secretary-treasurer for the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, who represent over 100 first nations in B.C., largely those outside of the B.C. treaty process.
The union has supported and advanced the rights, title, and self-determination of our indigenous nations since its inception. Our mandate is to work towards the implementation, exercise, and recognition of our inherent title rights and treaty rights to protect our land and waters, through the exercise and implementation of our own laws and jurisdictions.
I'd like to thank the [Inaudible—Editor] people, on whose ancestral lands and territory we're meeting today, Madam Chair, with the standing committee on claims. We have provided some speaking notes, and we also have a formal submission that will be forthcoming.
Basically, we included some recommendations based on the recognition of title rights and four basic principles that we put forward.
The first is that all claims are human rights issues. This is articulated through international frameworks such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Organization of American States American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The second is that indigenous nations are rights holders. Canada cannot assume underlying title and then issue a new proprietary interest. This assumption reflects the colonial doctrine of discovery, which meant the British crown could unilaterally declare sovereignty over our territories. Instead, the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous nations is required in the development of any of our land.
The third principle is that structural and systemic changes are needed. Canada must shift its idea of sovereignty and federalism to one that is inclusive of our indigenous legal orders, title rights, and treaty rights.
Fourth, all policies and processes must include joint development, reviews, and oversight. We can't say that's happening today, Madam Chair. It's been more unilateral, and continues to be, and we need that change. We need to be full and equal partners in any processes of legislative reform and ongoing oversight.
One exercise I looked at last year for myself was to look at all the reserve lands in Canada, and to find that actually they can fit almost onto Vancouver Island. Our lands and territories in Canada are vast. To take those lands and put us on tiny reserves is a violation of our human rights and displaces our people. That's a very small percentage of the lands that we hold now, and the rest are assumed crown lands. I just wanted to make that illustration.
In 1973, as you are aware, Canada made a unilateral decision to formulate these policies, but also to split comprehensive and specific claims—no one's mentioned that to date—into two separate processes. This created a lot of different barriers for our people. While the claims drag on, our territorial lands and resources are being taken. Trillions of dollars are being removed from our lands as these processes drag on. Our lands are being taken up, destroyed, and degraded.
Canada needs to understand these urgent issues for our indigenous nations. Early in August, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called Canada out on its discriminatory practices of violating the land rights of indigenous peoples. The committee called upon Canada to reform its policies. I was one of the delegate members who travelled over to Geneva to make those presentations, along with other indigenous nations from across Canada.
With its unilateral development and release of its 10 principles, Canada again failed to recognize the independent standing of indigenous peoples in international law.
I wanted to shed a bit of light on B.C. and how our issues are distinct. There's a small number of historical treaties signed in B.C. that are uniquely affected by the failure of the comprehensive and specific claims policies and procedures. The result is the crown governments' wide-scale denial of indigenous title to our territories. Canada still demands that we extinguish our inherent rights, but we cannot disassociate ourselves from the land. We are tied to the land. We are part of the land.
We also have hundreds of historical reserve claims, many of which are stuck in, or rejected by, the current process. Jody would have more statistics on that, and it's a large number here in B.C. As a result of all these injustices, B.C. nations have been at the forefront of land rights policy for decades. We know what would work for claims reforms. We struck a B.C. specific claims working group in 2013 at the union to work for a fair and just resolution to specific claims.
I'll talk a little bit about the comprehensive claims now.
The current policy still continues to demand termination agreements that result in de facto extinguishment of our indigenous title. The policy doesn't reflect the legal and political realities of the landscape. My colleagues mentioned Chilcotin and the UNDRIP and CERD and also the nation-to-nation relationship, but those are still bases for doctrine discovery.
We have several recommendations on the comprehensive claims; they are in your package. These include to work collaboratively with nations and to work collaboratively on any forums or policy to enable the agreement, other than the current process. Another recommendation is to create a nation-to-nation decision-making process.
I'll jump right to specific claims now. I am halfway through my remarks.
The background on the specific claims is as follows. Through UNDRIP we have the right to redress in cases of our lands being taken, used, or damaged without our free, prior, informed consent. The specific claims process must be the mechanism for this redress, but the indigenous nations face barriers at every turn. The process has been plagued with systemic biases and conflict of interest; a number of recent reviews and studies have shown that. Failures of the process affect B.C. nations disproportionately. Also, half of all claims come from B.C., and 53% of rejected claims come from B.C. as well.
I'll skip right to the recommendations.
Recommendation number one is to work collaboratively with indigenous nations to develop a truly independent process. The root of all the biases and barriers has been the conflict of interest mentioned earlier. Canada adjudicates all claims against itself. I can't see anywhere a place where that would ever be fair.
Real reform must begin with the creation of an independent process for claims adjudication, including the initial assessment of how a claim is validated. This needs to change; this is what all of our nations have been calling for, for decades. All previous policies have failed because they have not addressed Canada's conflict of interest.
I want to point out that optionally, the tribunal could play a larger role in assessing and adjudicating claims; however, the final form that this independent process takes needs to be decided collaboratively, with indigenous nations as equal partners. As you know, many of the tribunal decisions have been appealed, and that is a process that shouldn't happen that way.
Recommendation number two is to work collaboratively with indigenous nations to create structures of joint decision-making and oversight.
Recommendation number three is to provide sustainable research funding for this.
There is some summary that we have in our brief. I'll skip that and go right to the questions to the committee.
What is the overall objective and what are the expected outcomes for the study?
Can you provide more specific guidelines for the written submission and the types of evidence that would be most helpful for the study?
How will the findings shape current reform processes? Also, we want to know how the AFN-INAC joint technical working group review of specific claims and the working group of ministers on the review of laws and policies related to indigenous peoples will work together.
Canada has publicly announced that it's working towards this new relationship. How will Canada address the concerns of indigenous nations that the 10 principles continue to perpetuate colonialist doctrines and attitudes?
Those are the questions that we thought would help in moving our formal submission to you, along with some of the dialogue that we'll hear here today. These are all outstanding.
I appreciate the committee's time and effort in bringing this together so that we can start to have a real dialogue on what Canada is doing with all its policies and legislation, on how we're going to move towards a true nation-to-nation relationship based on recognition of the title rights of our people, and on how we can move into the way we will take to reform this and co-exist, as our ancestors said in 1910. We already had a framework laid out on fifty-fifty sharing and also on how we would work together to be great and good in this country.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Further to what my colleague, Chief Wilson, mentioned in terms of the leadership council, the executives of the First Nations Summit, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations make up what is called the leadership council. It is not a legal entity. It's just an initiative that brought everyone together, recognizing that it made more sense to work with each other in order to advance first nations issues collectively.
One of the main areas that we have full agreement on in terms of reconciliation is based on four principles that we developed as a collective of all chiefs in British Columbia. We've been using those to advance our issues around recognition and rights. You will find them in my presentation, on page 5, number 29, where it talks about the four principles.
First is acknowledgement that all our relationships are based on recognition and implementation of the existence of indigenous people, inherent title and rights pre-Confederation, and historic and modern treaties throughout B.C.
Second is acknowledgement that indigenous systems of governance and laws are essential to the regulation of land and resources throughout B.C.
Third is acknowledgement of the mutual responsibility that all of our government systems should shift to relationships, negotiations, and agreements based on recognition.
Finally, we must immediately move to consent-based decision-making and title-based fiscal relations, including revenue-sharing, in our relationship negotiations and agreements.
Those are the principles that move us forward in the work we do as the leadership council.
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Sto:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association. Our chief negotiator, Jean Teillet, and I are grateful to have this opportunity and are here on behalf of our six chiefs in leadership: Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Angie Bailey, Chief Derek Epp, Chief Mark Point, Chief Alice Thompson, and Chief Terry Horne, who is also a member of our treaty negotiating team.
I'm going to run through primarily 11 points we've put together that we want to bring to your attention with regard to issues around the comprehensive claims process, specifically, though, as it relates to the B.C. treaty process, with which we're engaged.
I also want to acknowledge being here on Tsawwassen lands in the Tsawwassen treaty nation area.
The content we're providing in this presentation is based on experiences of the Sto:lo Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association in comprehensive land claims negotiations and in participating in the B.C. treaty process since 1995—for the past 22 years. We're currently approaching the conclusion of stage four—agreement in principle—out of the six steps of that process.
This presentation, as I say, focuses on 11 key points and recommendations that are drawn from our experience over those past 22 years. We'll also be providing a written submission in a follow-up as this is a pretty high-level bullet-point type of presentation to begin with. We do need the time and more substantial space to add the detail that we feel we need to inform these points more fully.
First, I'll speak to certainty provisions with regard to rights recognition, as opposed to extinguishment. Second, we'll speak to core treaties and the need to review and transform the process of treaty as it links to the rights recognition basis and to the implementation of UNDRIP. The third part substantially is the introduction of shared decision-making over land and resources off treaty settlement lands.
Fourth is the area of jurisdiction and law-making. Fifth, we'll speak to fee simple land acquisition. Sixth, we'll speak to treaty settlement land status and administration. Seventh is negotiation funding, debt forgiveness, and grants. Eighth is community well-being catch-up and the need for fiscal reform to allow for that catch-up to happen.
Ninth is community well-being social reform and the need for social policy reform, specifically around indigenous children and families. Tenth, we'll talk to stage four in the B.C. treaty process as a barrier to treaty-making. Finally, on point 11, I'll talk to public education and reconciliation and the need for more substantial public education and understanding of reconciliation.
I'll go fairly quickly through these points with a bit of detail.
The first point is with regard to the need to change certainty provisions. We need to do that, and our recommendation is to immediately move towards the implementation of a rights recognition model and language consistent with UNDRIP and a human rights foundation to treaty-making fundamental to reconciliation, and not pursuing and eliminating altogether any aspect of extinguishment as a factor of treaty-making and the core to what treaty-making is. Again, that also moves us away from the current language. It still embodies to some extent extinguishment when we're talking about modification in non-assertion models. We need clear language that is specifically and explicitly based on rights recognition and non-extinguishment.
Extinguishment is a non-starter for many of our community members and fosters an ongoing critique of treaties. When we move into rights recognition, it opens the door to a wider range of support . Also, this moves us into the next point here, which is a wider range of options for treaty-making that are not full and final, where the rights are not nailed down in the four corners of the treaty, as is all too often the objective of treaty-making at this point in time.
The second point is on core treaties and the need to review and transform the process of treaty-making. We see core treaties as the foundation for developing relationships across the spectrum of rights, based on the principles of the Tsilhqot'in decision and the implementation of UNDRIP. That includes authority, management, access and use to be implemented, revisited and revised, and updated as a matter of creating a living treaty model, the evergreen living tree model.
Core treaties can contain elements of but not necessarily all the rights that exist. We don't need these to be considered full and final, because we don't want them to be considered a full and final agreement but rather a treaty. In the SXTA, we've resisted the idea of this being a final agreement. We've insisted on it being called a treaty, an agreement establishing relationships between nation and nation—again, consistent with UNDRIP and with Canada's 10 principles—and have said that these relationships in these documents and these treaties can be and should be reviewed every few years in an orderly process for change.
Tied to recognition, core treaties, and treaty-making is the aspect of shared decision-making as something we're putting forward as, again, substantial, and that needs to be developed, implemented, and recognized within treaty-making. The sharing of decisions, based on the recognition of title that indigenous peoples are owners of the land and the resources and therefore have a say in how those lands and resources are used and managed, is substantial. It is also an element of the fiscal policy that we mentioned before. Fiscal policy is an element of the resources that are being extracted, and where, when, and how that happens needs to be a factor of the decision-making by indigenous peoples, but also, the revenues resulting from that extraction need to be understood as part of the revenues of the indigenous peoples themselves.
There's a Halkomelem saying that will be challenging for the interpreters. [Witness speaks in Halkomelem] It means: “This is our land. We have to take care of everything that belongs to us.” Very simply put, it expresses that idea: the concept of ownership, title, and the need to take care of and steward the land. Shared decision-making off treaty settlement lands is a significant factor of the process to be reformed.
On what we'll call jurisdiction and law-making, we want to say simply that there's currently too much bureaucratic detail, particularly as included by B.C., in treaty documentation and treaty text. Treaties should simply set up prophecies for relationships. Implementation should allow for and provide mechanisms to be worked out, developed, and changed as needed, through orderly process, much of which could be done as side agreements to trim down what is central to the treaty itself.
On fee simple land acquisition, in many cases crown land is limited, particularly in southwestern British Columbia. It's also a critical need. There is a critical need that exists for fee simple lands to be included in a substantial quantity as treaty settlement lands. Mechanisms for fee simple land acquisition under a framework of willing seller-willing buyer should accommodate the need for incremental acquisition over an extended period of time. This shouldn't be constrained by relationships with local municipalities. This should be something that can be done over time without interference from local governments.
Treaty settlement land status needs to be a unique status, not a subsection 91(24) status or provincial fee simple status, and something that recognizes indigenous title apart from the lands set out under the Indian Act or otherwise set out as provincial grants. That motivates a need for an indigenous title land registry system that can be taken care of affordably and in an available way for treaty and other first nations to administer.
On negotiation funding and debt forgiveness, debt accumulated through loans to first nations supporting comprehensive land claims processes needs to be forgiven. The debt issue is a huge disincentive to treaty participants and critics both. Capacity funding support needs to be granted and loans need to be forgiven.
As I said, we'll be submitting a written version of this in more detail.
What I want to say is basically around the need to reform fiscal and social policies and the ability to govern and have direct participation in taking care of children and families. We've received resistance to that, but when we're looking at the need as an outcome or an element of treaties that's substantial in order to deal with this catch-up period, to bring the status of health and well-being in indigenous communities up to a common level and standard, that motivates the need for reform in fiscal relationships, taxation, OSR, and involvement in jurisdiction on the fundamental elements of society, such as children and families.
Next, stage four is a barrier to treaty-making. Simply, it takes too long, it's too complex, there are too many hurdles, and what we hear from the communities is why is it taking so long? Why don't we see any results? We need the revision of stage four to provide earlier and greater access to a more substantial tool kit, and pre-treaty land transfers, protections, and benefits. We need to substantially look at how stage four is taken care of.
I'll end with education and reconciliation. The government needs to develop meaningful public processes filling the gaps between truth and reconciliation, so the public can better understand why these processes are in place, what we're trying to do here, what the needs are for supporting the treaty process and comprehensive claims.
Thank you very much.
I'd like to acknowledge that we are on the territory of the Tsawwassen First Nation.
The Te'mexw Treaty Association, which I act for, represents five indigenous nations on southern Vancouver Island that are in modern-day treaty negotiations. They each are signatories to the historic Douglas treaties, so they are somewhat different from many of the first nations. Their treaty negotiations are largely defined by the fact that they are in urban—for example, Songhees is in Victoria, for all intents and purposes—or suburban first nations, and much of their land is under fee simple title, either in cities, or under the E & N Railway grant. Despite these challenges, we've signed an agreement in principle, and are moving aggressively towards reaching a final treaty agreement, but we do face some significant obstacles, including the continued shortage of land, and the lack of a federal mandate around fisheries.
The uncomfortable question that many of these first nations ask, and which comes to the mental block we've been talking about today, is, if Canada and B.C. could not honour the historic treaties that Canada has signed, or the imperial government signed, how is it that we can expect that the governments of Canada and British Columbia will honour modern treaties? When we talk about moving away from the Indian Act, there is more to that than just saying, presto, the Indian Act disappears. For these first nations, they need to know that they are going to secure the core resources that they need, the core jurisdiction that they need, to ensure that they can continue to maintain their nations as living integral communities within Canada, with their own systems of government, able to support themselves, able to maintain their cultures, and able to keep themselves together. That is the thing we are struggling with in the treaty negotiations, how to secure that given the peculiar history of Canada.
There are really two points I wanted to make to you. I'm largely addressing this to you as the federal leadership. The first is that there has to be real leadership in committing to what you've heard from several speakers today in terms of moving away from the concept of treaties being full and final. There has to be a different concept that sees a relationship that can evolve, that allows for things to be tried out to develop the stronger relationships between first nations that respects their existing rights, respects their existing cultures, and does not insist that they draw a line on the past and move on.
The second point I want to make is about how the federal government works. The federal government has to practically address the reality that it does not have an effective mandate process. It does not have a process that allows it to act creatively, that allows first nations to explore ideas. It is constantly behind, it constantly causes delay, and this reflects the way in which the government departments work in a very siloed fashion, without core leadership.
Let me speak to my first point. The modern treaties have constantly faced this question of certainty. There have been various terms used over the years to achieve this: extinguishment, cede, release, surrender, modification. Some people even have contentions about the non-assertion model. At its core is this idea that the modern treaties are supposed to be full and final settlements of all the issues of the first nation. When you're down in the community talking to the community about this.... I have go out as a non-indigenous lawyer to talk to rooms full of people who aren't going to talk about this in a legal way, but they're going to ask me, how it can be that we can be asked to draw a line on the past and say, okay, the rights that we had, the culture that we had, the history that we had, the grievances that we had, and the concerns that we had are now in the past? Now, we have a shiny new document with many, many, many more words, most of which nobody can understand, except a few lawyers and perhaps a few judges, and that we are now moving forward with that being our government, those being our rights, that being our means of expressing our culture.
What many first nations see is that the modern treaty process, in many ways, has become a way for Canada to draw a line on its colonial past, and to ask for forgiveness—and in fact, insist upon forgiveness—before first nations are able to move forward.
First nations see this being done in a context in which they don't even get a chance to test drive the relationship. In many ways, first nations look at this relationship as one in which for 150 years, one bad thing after another has happened to first nations. They are hearing Canada and British Columbia say to them, “It will be different this time.” Needless to say, a lot of ordinary people in these communities, and a lot of leadership in these communities, look at me and say, “Why should we believe you?” From our point of view, I actually think the answer is to stop asking this. Instead, look at the modern treaty negotiations as a chance to negotiate arrangements that recognize that first nations are coming to the table with existing cultures, coming to the table with existing rights, and coming to the table with grievances that don't have easy answers. The modern treaties are a chance to create a framework in which those problems can be managed, where, over time, people can see if these solutions are working. They can evaluate how the treaties are working and adapt them to changing circumstances—or adapt them because they fail, adapt them because they haven't achieved the ends that everybody hopes they will achieve, whether it's social ends, fiscal ends, or the maintenance of culture.
In Quebec, the Quebec government worked out arrangements with the Cree that, for example, really worked on a time-limited basis. In a sense, some people joke, it's “renting” certainty. The federal government has been dead set against this approach historically, although there has been a recent openness at the civil service level to exploring new approaches. In order for those approaches to stick, the political leadership is going to have to fall behind in the same position.
With that, I'll move to the second point, which is about the reality of the way in which the federal negotiators carry on their work. Each department has its mandate. Each department has its objectives. Each department has its goals. The only department that really has reconciliation as one of its goals is the Department of Indian Affairs—or Indigenous Affairs, or Aboriginal Affairs; the name may change from time to time. The reality is that the federal negotiators largely come to the table and say, “This is what this department needs. That is what this department needs.” Largely, since they don't have the land, they don't have the money, they don't have the taxation power, and they in fact play very little in the way of an active role in negotiation, leaving it to the province to really lead the way.
The process of actually getting any mandate change from the federal government is painfully slow, largely because the federal negotiators have to walk as water carriers, going back to each agency, trying to convince each agency to change their position when they have the time to think about it. Then somewhere down the road we'll hear back from the INAC people, saying, “Oh, here's what DND, Finance, taxation, CIPO...or whoever has the say.” That has to change. We need to see the custodial agencies engage when they have land. If we're going to talk about recognizing indigenous intellectual property, then CIPO, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, has to be engaged. It can't just be a messenger. The taxation people can't just drop around once in a while to let us know what the tax regime is going to be. They have to be actively involved in dealing with individual nations on what's happening there.
With that, I'll make a final comment on what I think could be something that's great or something that's a disaster. The proposal that's on the table now to divide Indian Affairs or Indigenous Affairs into two departments is a danger and an opportunity. It's an opportunity if the new ministry to lead negotiations is given a real mandate and real power to lead across departments, to bring the idea of reconciliation out across the government, and to create a whole-of-government approach to reconciliation, not just to consultations. The danger, I fear, is that we could end up with yet another silo, except one that now doesn't even have access to the programs and services that Indigenous Affairs presently has, and is yet another supplicant having to work around each of the departments, trying to get a mandate. This is just not a way to run treaty negotiations in this day and age.
First, the new department has to be given sufficient resources to run the negotiations. One of the practical realities that you see on the ground is that there aren't the resources in terms of personnel, policy, etc., to really advance negotiations. Many of these files are run off the side of peoples' desks, to be blunt about it.
Second, and I don't know how to do this—I don't know the mechanics of government well enough—but whenever you deal with any ministry, they live in fear of Treasury Board. You never hear of anybody saying, oh, we'd like to do this and we don't have to check with Treasury Board. Everybody knows that Treasury Board has this overarching mandate, which everyone lives in terror of and that everyone wants to appease.
To some extent, the system has been put in place, particularly for the agencies that deal with indigenous people, to have the new department thought of that way. When the Department of National Defence is making decisions about disposing of land, for instance, they think they have to check in with the new department directed to reconciliation and negotiations. The people in Finance have to think they're not just running their own little negotiations, but they have to be integrated with the larger mission being designed by the new department.
As always, the power of departments to some extent depends on their ministers and on all kinds of political circumstances that are beyond anyone's control. However, there has to be a real mission delivered to it, which probably should be reflected in the letters to all the ministers that give them a chance to run reconciliation across the country. I don't know exactly how you do that, but I think that with the tools that are available, whether in mandate letters or the legislation creating the ministry, the creation of policy documents has to be addressed.
Let me tell you this first. We started off with 19 bands in treaty. Along the way, because of the length of time and the absolute intransigence on the part of the federal mandate to move anything other than throwing something down on the table and not negotiating.... For a lot of these things, there are no negotiations going on. A lot of bands left in frustration, and the whole thing collapsed in 2005. Then six wanted to come back, and Canada insisted that the six had to assume the debt of all the other 13 bands that left or they wouldn't let us come back into the treaty process. We have about a $13-million debt, and it's not even ours, but there is an insistence that we're supposed to pay that. I regard that as highway robbery and absolutely inappropriate behaviour on Canada's part to insist on that. That's the debt load.
Just to tie the debt load into the previous question from Mr. Harvey about the stages, part of the problem is that the stages started out.... I've been in the treaty process for a long time. I started out on the Yukon treaties, then the Northwest Territories treaties, and now in B.C. I've been at this since 1992, through three totally separate treaty processes. I've watched these stages move from ideas. You go to sort of an idea of a framework agreement, and then you move into agreement in principle where the agreement in principle is about 12 pages long. Now they are imbedded in cement. There are like 25-foot walls around each stage. The agreement in principle is no longer an agreement in principle. It is a final agreement. They are not principles anymore, it's the whole agreement in there.
The problem is this: there are different tools, money, and options that are available to you at each stage. As stage four got bigger and became the whole ship, the tools that you can get in stage five become less available to you. This is the rigidity that has sunk into the process. That's why it's damaging. The fact is, that's where the money is all accumulating, because of this instance on virtually getting final agreement in the AIP process so that the final stage, where there's more money available to you to do all the kinds of work that you need to do, where there are possibilities of early transfer of land so you can get some economic development going, is held off until the last stage. None of this is helpful. All of it just creates more debt load. It creates more bureaucratic mess, and it leaves you in this long period of time.
We're in a position where even our Canada negotiator says that our table has been put through more than any other treaty table in this country. They still won't give us an AIP. They keep moving the markers. We have to do this; we have to do that. They're making it virtually impossible for us to get an AIP. This is not fair negotiating, and it's Canada doing it, not B.C.
The idea of the full and final agreement I think is a non-starter these days.
The problem is that Canada is looking to be risk averse. You want a bulletproof vest around you so that no aboriginal people can come after you ever again. That was the whole idea of the treaties. That's what extinguishment was about. You were getting rid of the people. You were getting rid of their rights to the land. You wanted it so that they were gone, just gone out of your lives, except for what was in the four corners of that agreement.
With this whole idea of chasing what I call the unicorn of certainty—it is a unicorn, an idea—nobody's ever seen it. It doesn't exist, and the chasing of it is a waste of time. So just drop it and move on to the idea of relationships.
Aboriginal people need jurisdiction, their own jurisdiction. However, there are three things that underlie the changes that need to happen. Number one is that you have to have an acknowledgement that up until now, Canada has been built on the idea that you own all the lands and resources, that you get all the decision-making about the lands and resources—or it's split between you and the provinces—and you get all the benefits from them. Government gets all of that.
The idea that has to change and that the treaties should be changing, and not under the name of certainty or full and final, is that for aboriginal people, title means they have ownership of that land. Tsilhqot'in and Delgamuukw both said that has an inescapable economic component to it. They get ownership, co-ownership of the land, they get shared decision-making on the lands and resources and what happens to them, and then you should get shared benefits from them.
When I say benefits, I don't mean just 2% of the revenue resource, I mean equity deals here, where you are a co-owner in that. Then you get part of the decision-making about how your lands are resourced. That's what I think should be in the treaties, and that's what this whole country should be all about. That is what this new move forward should be.
So drop extinguishment, drop certainty, share jurisdiction, share decision-making, share the lands with the people. I think that's what will move us forward. If we go forward with that and a relationship based on that, whether you call that a treaty or not—UNDRIP calls it “treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements”—that's what we should be looking at.
I think those are the answers to how we move forward.
I agree with everything that Jean has said, but I would also add to it.
The Supreme Court of Canada, in Haida, has given us a framework, predating UNDRIP, to start addressing this. They've said that arrangements around the management of crown lands don't have to wait for treaties or court cases.
While it's been bogged down, and I've probably helped to bog it down in lots of legal niceties and such like that, in the context of treaty-making, even in British Columbia, there was open discussion at the beginning about interim measures to protect resources. Those interim measures, for example, in the case of the people I work with, could involve acquiring lands. They could involve actively making decisions not to dispose of crown lands.
In larger areas, for example, it could be “Look, one of the things we're going to commit to is that with the lands that you've identified as potential treaty lands, we're not going to let things develop without your consent or a reasonable effort to enter into an impact benefit agreement.”
These things are well-developed ideas now.
Partly what happens is that there's a real imbalance of power in many of these negotiations. If you're not a first nation that has a lot of money to fight the company, you're out of luck.
It would make a huge difference if the governments were getting behind the first nations that are in the process and saying that these areas are identified for treaty negotiations and we can't let them go out.
Thanks to all of you for your testimony here today. My mind is reeling with all kinds of different directions that I want to go in with this.
A lot of what you've talked about is the whole-of-government approach, a focused nation-to-nation relationship, and the fluid nature that has to come into play through that relationship. As my colleague MP said earlier, an extinguishment of rights doesn't even really jibe with our Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, right? I think he's right that it probably wouldn't stand up in a court of law if it went to the Supreme Court, so I agree with you.
In looking at that, do you agree with splitting up INAC into the nation-to-nation whole-of-government approach of one minister and the services approach of another? Mr. Janes, you mentioned this. You agree that this is the right direction to go in, but only if the mandate letters of all of the ministers and all the other departments that have to interact or have to be a part of a negotiation are at the table....
The reason I completely agree with where you're coming from on this is that last year, as part of our environment committee, I had the benefit of visiting with the Salish nation and also with the Haida people. They had issues, with the biggest one being, once again, that there's just no land that is affordable to buy now amongst the islands that exist off Vancouver Island, and, with the Haida people, getting all of the different departments together to sit down and finally hammer out and negotiate an agreement. You might get Parks Canada and the to the table, but then have a hard time getting Fisheries to the table to establish....
Do you agree, though, that if we can get a minister to break down those silos and take a whole-of-government approach, that is absolutely what is necessary to move this process forward?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a quick aside and then I want to get into my questions. It's unfortunate we have so little time with each group because I think there's a wealth of information.
I want to quickly pick up on that Treasury Board divestiture process. If you have recommendations in terms of how that process should be looked at, not only in areas where a treaty is being undergone, but in areas where there are specific claims.... I had an example in my area, and I was quite stunned to see what the actual process was, so I welcome recommendations in terms of that piece.
I'm going to go to David.
I want to pick up on two points you made, and I think in some ways they're interconnected. One, you talked about the purchase of fee simple and we did hear that in many communities, especially in urban areas, it's a big issue, but it is also, believe it or not, an issue in the more rural communities. For example, the NStQ is in its final stages. It also relates to the public education piece and the inclusion of third parties as part of the way to some better solutions.
You have a rancher who wants to sell his land, and you have others who perhaps, with the decisions that are getting made, are losing some sort of key ability to move their cattle from summer to winter ranch land, and those solitudes aren't working. I guess I would talk about the purchase of fee simple, i.e., a willing rancher, a nice opportunity that is not taken advantage of, and the ability of the third parties to say, “I think we live in the valley together”. They've lived in the valleys together, and I think we've moved away from having some good conversations with other people in the community.
You have a short time for a complicated issue.
I'm Grand Chief Robert Pasco, and with me is the executive director of our tribal council, Debbie Abbott.
I want to acknowledge the homeland of the Tsawwassen people. I also want to say Ya dk shin wen wen, which is good morning to you all.
I'm hear to speak to our experiences with the specific claims process. One of the things right off the bat is that the terminology “specific claims” is the wrong one. We're really not claiming anything. We're trying to correct something that someone else made incorrectly. That's one of the reasons why we have such a problem. It's the language. Just like “comprehensive claims” which I heard this morning; we're not claiming anything. We're just trying to correct things to the way they should be.
I want to start out by giving you a layout of where we're from. I'm cognizant of the time. Our nation is in the Fraser Canyon. There is a transport corridor through the canyon. We have two railroads that go through there and a high-tension transmission line. We also have the Trans-Canada. The Fraser is also a famous river for salmon as you all know, but it hasn't been very good for salmon this year. It has been one of the worst years we've ever had.
Some of you have probably heard of Hells Gate. That's right within our homeland. I'm not sure who named it, but that's not our name for it. It's a rough passage area. When our reserves were set out, a lot of them were set out as fishing stations. As time went on, the railroad came in, and it took a chunk. Everybody has taken a chunk until we're left with very little. Whenever they wanted to take a piece of land, they just enacted something. They put forth a reason and legalized it in whatever way they thought was right without any consultation with us. Ever since the reserves were formed, we've been living with that problem.
I want to present a situation where I really became involved, and where we became involved. It was back in the early 80s when the federal and provincial governments, the CN railroad, and all governing agencies agreed there should be double tracking. They agreed it was going to go ahead, they signed off on everything, and then they established a federal environmental review panel. I was asked to sit on the this panel.
As we went around the countryside going through our hearing, indigenous people would get up and say, “Look, here's the problem we have.” As time went on, more and more of these things came forward. Our chairman at that time was Bob Connelly. He was in Ottawa. He was head of the federal environmental review panel. He stated that it wasn't in our mandate. We would go into our committee meetings after our session. Then the day came when we were writing the final report. There were all of these excuses that we didn't have a mandate to deal with indigenous issues. All of us told the committee that we were going to run into trouble. We were ignoring something here. The government had approved it to go ahead. Now we were just nickel-and-diming this thing.
To make a long story short, just when we were writing the final report, I got a phone call from Lloyd Hostland who was the head engineer at CN. He said to me, “Chief Pasco, we're going to start double tracking at your place.” I said, “Oh, yeah?” They were going to go 100 and some feet into the river there, and they were going to double track.
Anyway, I had to resign from the panel, and a lot of things happened.
Eventually, we got an injunction and it's a long-standing injunction that's going today. David Crombie was the minister at that time and John Fraser was the minister of fisheries. Anyway, they all came out. They could see the dilemma we were in. We went down a railroad track and we showed David Crombie some of the communities and some of the issues of the communities. There were a lot of them. He went back and said, “Okay, we're going to develop an accelerated process"—I'm going to run out of time. We got into the specific claims process, an accelerated process, and that was 30-some years go. I had no grey hair.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Robert Pasco: My hair was black. I weigh about the same because I've been very active trying to pursue this. It hasn't worked and that's the bottom line.
I can tell you more, but I'm going to leave it up to Debbie to tell you the rest because I took a lot of her time.
I want to cut right to the chase and I'm mindful of the time. I have five recommendations I'd like to bring forward. We will make a full submission in time for the mid-October deadline.
First, I want to mention that we need to adopt the recommendations of the B.C. specific claims working group, and we need to continue to engage with first nations in B.C. directly. B.C. is so very different from the rest of Canada.
I have recommendations specific to dealing with our Nlaka'pamux claims.
The first is to visit our homeland. We need to ensure that any government official involved in claim negotiations and/or assessment visits the lands at issue in a claim with the leadership and community members advancing the claim. Many claims from our region arose out of circumstances where the government failed to show up to protect our interests. Resolving these grievances requires engagement on the ground.
The second is to consistently fund the work of resolving these grievances. Multi-year funding for research units would ensure efficiencies and work planning and execution. Fund our communities to participate fully in negotiations. Finally, fund whatever government department or independent body will be party to the process at adequate levels.
The third is to communicate with our nation directly. There are opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings for these transportation corridor claims. We have ideas on how to move these forward. Appropriate government representatives with decision-making authority need to engage with us directly.
The fourth is that joint oversight ensures government emissaries act in a principled and disciplined manner in keeping with the honour of the crown and UNDRIP. Joint oversight is the only way to keep the government accountable for its actions or inactions.
Finally, the last recommendation is to create fundamental systemic change, which provides for jurisdiction of the Nlaka'pamux and other indigenous nations.
I have one point. We've heard so many committees in the past. I have a question for you. After all of our efforts to inform the Government of Canada about specific claims and after all the reports and studies and commissions that have happened since 1948, what is the purpose of this study that you have undertaken now?
Madam Chair, members of the committee, I will begin by expressing our appreciation to the committee for inviting us here to speak with you on the subject of the Nisga'a treaty. With me are two fellow officers, Secretary-Treasurer Corinne McKay and CEO Collier Azak, and Ms. Marg Rosling, one of the members of our general counsel. Our chairperson, Brian Tait, sends his regrets.
First, modern treaties are different. As most of you are no doubt aware, the modern treaty process, also known as the comprehensive land claims process, commenced in 1973 as a direct result of a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Nisga'a case known as Calder v. Attorney-General of British Columbia. The federal government of the day, under the leadership of the first Prime Minister Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, then minister of Indian and northern affairs, agreed that it was preferable to negotiate a “just and equitable settlement of the land question”, as it was referred to by the Nisga'a Nation, than to continue to go to court over our differences. Shortly afterwards, in 1975, as our friend and your vice-chair Romeo Saganash knows so well, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement was entered into, thereby becoming the first of the modern treaties.
Nisga'a negotiations began in 1976, but the road was not easy, largely because of the ongoing refusal of the provincial government to participate. The Nisga'a people and our leaders persevered. We participated in the constitutional process of the 1980s. We played an important role. We not only persuaded the Government of Canada and the provinces to include subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act of 1982, which recognizes and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights, but we also successfully participated in obtaining subsection 35(3) a few years later, ensuring that the rights in land claims agreements are treaty rights.
Our comprehensive land claims table thereby became a constitutional negotiating table, as we negotiated the constitutional relationship to exist between the Nisga'a Nation and the crown. British Columbia finally joined our negotiations in 1990. An agreement in principle was reached in 1996, and the Nisga'a Final Agreement was completed in 1998. The Nisga'a treaty was the first treaty with indigenous people in Canada, and perhaps in the world, to fully set out and constitutionally protect our right to self-government and authority to make laws. This was controversial at the time, and led to a lengthy ratification process. Our people ratified the treaty in November 1998. The provincial legislature and Parliament each passed settlement legislation in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
Our treaty came into force on May 11, 2000. That was a historic day for the Nisga'a people. It marked the end of a 113-year journey and the first steps to a new direction. On that day, the Indian Act ceased to apply to us, and for the first time the Nisga'a Nation had the recognized legal and constitutional authority to conduct its own affairs. The Nisga'a treaty ended the uncertainty with respect to land ownership as well as hunting, fishing, and other rights throughout our traditional territory. It opened the door to joint economic initiatives in the development of our natural resources. Like other modern treaties, our treaty benefits all Canadians.
As the committee knows, there is a variety of different arrangements with indigenous peoples in different parts of Canada. Unfortunately, this has led to many people in offices in government failing to bear these important distinctions in mind.
For example, modern treaties are very different from specific claims agreements. Comprehensive land claims agreements deal with most or all of the entire range of rights and relationships between the crown and indigenous people. Specific claims, on the other hand, address particular breaches of past treaty or other obligations in restrictive matters such as Indian reserve creation or law. Comprehensive land claims agreements receive constitutional protection; specific agreements do not.
Similarly, there are first nations such as our friends from Westbank and Sechelt who have entered into self-government agreements that have eliminated most or all of the Indian Act from their governing arrangement but that do not deal with a great range of subject matter that makes up the content of modern treaties. Moreover, like specific claims agreements, those self-government agreements, while of vital importance to their parties, are not given constitutional recognition and affirmation under section 35 of the Constitution Act.
While we fully respect and acknowledge the efforts that all of those nations and other groups have taken to pursue their aspirations, members of the committee must not make the mistake of treating us all alike.
There have also been legal developments as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada rulings that, even where an indigenous people have not entered into a treaty or proven its aboriginal rights, the crown has a duty to consult with them about potential infringement or adverse effects on their asserted rights. Unfortunately, in our experience, government officials are now treating these asserted rights as being equivalent to the defined treaty rights that our people established only after years of struggle and compromise. I repeat, modern treaties, such as the Nisga'a treaty are unique in their content and constitutional character.
Unlike asserted rights or rights set out in specific claims or stand-alone self-government agreements, they have three essential aspects. One, they are solemn contracts, enforceable between the parties. Two, they are given the statutory force of law and are thereby enforceable against everyone and must inform officials' administration of other laws. Three, they are a list of constitutionally protected rights defining the relationship at the highest level known to law. For these reasons, modern treaties such as the Nisga'a treaty must be considered on their own without confusing or lumping them together with asserted rights, specific claims agreements, or a self-government agreement that has been negotiated without a comprehensive land claim agreement.
Implementation remains a challenge. Even though it has been more than 17 years since the effective date of the Nisga'a treaty, we continue to face ongoing challenges with its implementation. Too often, it has seemed as though as soon as the ink is dry on a modern treaty, all government officials forget about their solemn obligations and move on to other things.
This shared frustration led to a meeting in 2003 of all indigenous modern treaty signatories. We agreed to work together as the Land Claims Agreements Coalition in order to try to persuade the federal government to adopt a new modern treaty implementation policy based on four fundamental principles.
One, there should be a recognition that the crown in right of Canada, not the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, is party to our land claims agreement and associated self-government agreement. Two, there must be a federal commitment to achieve the broad objectives of the land claims agreements and self-government agreements within the context of the new relationship, as opposed to mere technical compliance. Three, implementation must be handled by appropriate senior-level federal officials representing the entire Canadian government. Four, there must be an independent implementation and review body separate from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. This could be the Auditor General's department.
I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to be here today. My name is Chris Derickson. I am a councillor with Westbank First Nation.
I was a bit perplexed when we were asked to come and present, because this was on specific claims and we don't have any specific claims or land claims before Canada right now. But I can give a perspective to the committee of something different, something like what the Nisga'a party just alluded to.
We are a self-governing first nation, one of the few self-governing first nations in Canada. I think we stand as a model that self-government in Canada can work, not just for our members, but for Canadians. If you've ever been to Westbank—I see some heads nodding—the transition between the local municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna is seamless. You cannot tell when you are on WFN lands.
In fact, I heard a story once of an INAC official, or somebody, who was on our reserve lands and was talking to somebody about Westbank First Nation. He looked out over our reserve lands, which included a golf course, hotels, and residential development, and said, “You know, I've heard about this Westbank First Nation. I'd really like to go visit them and see their land someday. Where are they located?” Everyone in the room laughed, because they were standing on our land.
I am an example of somebody who has grown up, for the most part, outside of the Indian Act. I've grown up in a community, and I've seen changes in our community to the point where, while I've studied the Indian Act in school, I do not know the Indian Act in practice. We have members coming up who don't even remember the poverty that used to exist. Now, we have not come to the point where we've solved all of our social issues. Things aren't perfect, but we are managing a new type of challenge, and that's what I want to share with the committee today, and hopefully bring to the forefront of Canada's mind that you can't forget about these other agreements that exist, like the Nisga'a treaty and the Westbank First Nation Self-Government Agreement.
If you were to see our lands and the development, I think it would be very clear and you'd be able to figure out very quickly that there has been a lot of change in 10 years. The rate of change is absolutely astronomical. Our economy has grown at a rate about 20 times faster than the B.C. economy. This includes the downturn in 2008. When everything else was crashing, we continued to grow. We just had a population increase last year of 27%. That's non-member residents on our lands. If we were a municipality, we would be the fastest growing municipality in Canada by far. We've outpaced the growth of the district of Lake Country, the city of West Kelowna, and the city of Kelowna. We've done this all under our model of self-government, which includes a WFN constitution, a comprehensive community plan, and several laws, all of which have been developed by our members. This brings a level of certainty and predictability to our governing structure that allows investors to come in, and not just investors—non-member, non-indigenous residents moving in by the hundreds every year, and continuing to move in.
Of course, the growth we are experiencing is not sustainable. In fact, I would argue that we are coming to the end of what's sustainable under the current agreement we have with Canada, in particular the fiscal relationship we have with Canada. With all the commerce taking place on our land, we've contributed about half a billion dollars in GDP to the Canadian economy since 2014. We have also raised taxation revenues for Canada, just through the commerce that exists on our land. About half a billion dollars in select taxes, tax revenues have been collected by Canada from our lands. In the province of B.C., I think that number is up around $367 million in taxation revenues collected.
Yet, we still exist under this archaic FTA process with Canada, where we negotiate for a financial transfer from Canada just to cover the basic services that we provide to our members. Meanwhile, we see all the revenues coming into our lands that we don't have access to. We think that if we are going to move forward beyond self-government, if we want self-government in this country to be successful, then we need a fiscal relationship that will support that success in the long term, and we need to see a more progressive and modern approach to that fiscal relationship.
Now we are in negotiations with the other first nations across Canada that are self-governing to redraft a new fiscal policy, but we would urge this committee, we would urge the government, to fast-track that because we, at the basic level, cannot provide the same level of municipal services to our residents that a municipality can. We don't have access to the gas tax, to all these infrastructure grants. We're doing it where can by working with the local municipality and regional district, and we're also doing it by strong and prudent financial management. We collect about $12 million in property taxes from our member residents, and we know over the long term with the growth we're experiencing we need to continue to find new ways to raise revenues and to generate new revenues for Westbank First Nation.
If I can just switch gears, because we're also involved in another table with the Okanagan Nation called [Inaudible—Editor], the reconciliation table. We're one of the six members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. We're currently negotiating with Canada how Canada can deal with the nations, and the nation rebuilding that has to take place for aboriginal title to be recognized in the province of B.C. Under the new Chilcotin regime, we know that aboriginal title rests with the nation and not with the individual communities, so we see Canada having to take a tandem approach to rebuilding nations at the nation level, while still offering first nations the opportunity to become self-governing at the community level. There is an opportunity cost. It took 15 to 18 years to negotiate self-government. I think about Chief Pasco next to me. He said he was young in an expedited claims policy process. We have done a good job of creating an economy based around negotiations. If these negotiations are fast-tracked or if there's an easier mechanism for first nations to enter into, think of how far ahead these other first nations could be. We know WFN's not unique. Plenty of first nations around this country are in urban, semi-urban, or even rural communities, where self-government would only benefit their people. As I said, not just our people, but Canada benefits from these agreements as you can tell from the revenues we've raised, the jobs that are available on our land—400 businesses—but we need that tandem approach.
I would also like to encourage Canada to continue down the path of pursuing these reconciliation tables and ensuring that they're properly funded, ensuring that they have a proper mandate to negotiate with the proper rights holders and to ensure they're supported by the proper policies.
have three recommendations that we'd like to leave with the committee.
The first, which I just finished speaking about, is strengthening the importance of the rights recognition and self-determination table between the Okanagan people and Canada.
The second is to replace the various comprehensive land claims policies, and the Government of Canada's approach to implementation inherent in the negotiation of aboriginal self-government, with a new recognition policy that's consistent with UNDRIP, the 10 principles recently released by Canada, and the direction from the courts.
Finally—and this is something I want to stress—priority needs to be placed on ensuring that Canada's approach to financing self-governments is modernized and keeps pace with the growth, especially first nations like Westbank. I can't say we're barely keeping up, but we're on a very steep learning curve. It's important that these self-governments are provided with the revenues required to support the ongoing implementation of self-government.
With that, thank you for your time.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to start by answering Ms. Abbott's question as well as I can. I am from New Brunswick and I grew up in large-scale agriculture, but very much a family farm. The connection that I feel to the land in New Brunswick, given my personal life circumstances growing up, is really strong. I've spent the last 15 years advocating for the rights of agricultural producers across the country, specifically young farmers, because that is the demographic of people that I fit into.
Since getting elected and having not had very much relationship with first nations or indigenous communities in my riding, I've cherished the working relationship that I've garnered with the two indigenous communities there. It has become one of the most important relationships to me, and I would consider the chiefs in both of those communities to be among my best friends. Having had the opportunity to sit on the natural resources committee for the last two years, I think it's important that we recognize that these should not be silos. The environment, natural resources, health, and indigenous issues should all work collaboratively together. I don't like the four-quadrant approach. I like more of a model that's based on something like the rings around a star, where the centre is the centre of the conversation and each of the issues spin around the centre simultaneously. I think that better reflects where we should be trying to go as a nation.
That's my best shot at answering your question.
The second statement I would like to make is to Chief Pasco. In New Brunswick we have a saying, and given your speech earlier.... I don't have any questions for you, but I think you're good people and I appreciate your comments.
Mr. Derickson, my questions have to do with the comments you made about self-governance, especially taking into account the overarching success you've had on some levels as a first nation community since you became self-governing. You talked about the economic challenges that come from managing growth under a rigid process. Could you elaborate on how you think the process could be re-evaluated or changed to better reflect the growth in GDP or economic activity, and numbers of people who live there, to keep pace with your growing community? How could that model be used for other communities that wish to do the same thing, or that wish to govern using a different model?
This is the continuation of hearings by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. We are here on a study pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) of specific claims and comprehensive land claim agreements.
I want to recognize that we are here on Tsawwassen traditional territory, and we're starting our process across Canada here in British Columbia.
You will have 10 minutes to present, then we'll go into rounds of questions, and you'll have an opportunity to answer.
We will be working on the report for the next couple of months, if you wish to submit something more robust. As long as it comes in by the middle of October, it should be able to supplement our study, help us produce a report that we're all proud of, and make some positive changes for Canada and, of course, for the nations that are involved in this trying process.
I want to welcome you here.
We have Havlik Metcs Limited, Morgan Chapman. We also have First Nations of the Maa-Nulth Treaty Society. Sioux Valley Dakota Nation from my home province is not here.
I will begin with you, Morgan.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My name is Morgan Chapman. I'm here presenting on behalf of Havlik Metcs Limited. We're based in Vancouver, Calgary, and Victoria and we're here representing over 15 first nations in Alberta and British Columbia, namely the Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council's treaty and aboriginal rights research program, and the Treaty 8 Tribal Association's TARR program. We also service several independent first nations that are not members of consolidated claims research units in British Columbia.
What I'm going to lead with today is something that you might not find in the material I provided a bit earlier, but is a theme that's come up in the prior presentations this morning. That's about the implementation of treaties. Our Treaty 8 first nations that we serve in Alberta and British Columbia signed their historical treaty in 1899. There are still numerous components of that treaty that have yet to be implemented. Those are the types of claims that we bring forward to Canada through the specific claims process.
As a firm, we've endorsed the 2012 National Claims Research Directors' joint submission, Justice at Last, with the main title “In Bad Faith”. Once Justice at Last came into effect under the specific claims process, we lost a number of categories of claims that were specifically rooted in those of an ongoing and variable nature or were breaches of treaty promise. We can no longer bring those categories of claims forward.
That is a unilateral policy change that was implemented by the government without consultation with the members of first nations communities who were taking advantage of the previous process and continue to take part in the process going forward. Claims today that we can bring forward are based on lands or assets promised under the treaty or issues of fraud on behalf of government agents. Those are three really big categories that we can still deal with. The Specific Claims Tribunal Act in that capacity has been used to strangle the specific claims process and the claims brought forward by first nations communities.
Changes to the act are needed in order to prevent that continued strangling of claims brought forward by first nations. As was also mentioned by Chief Judy Wilson this morning, the government itself wrote the rules to suit itself. It's always the judge, banker, jury, and executioner on the claims that are brought forward against itself. Court is seldom a desirable option because of the high cost, and the crown resorts to technical defences such as statutes of limitations.
On the funding side for specific claims, between 2010 and 2015, our personal clients received up to a 57% cut to the funding used to research and submit those claims to the government. Our colleagues on the other side of the table at Indigenous and Northern Affairs did not receive a cut. We were asked during that same time period to address workloads and changes implemented via unilateral policy implementation, namely the minimum standard, and we identified that as creating a 35% increase in our workload as a firm. That impact has cost us literally thousands of researcher hours just within our own firm. It has stalled the submission of claims, and it has been done by using make-work projects such as transcriptions for documents that are relatively clear, requiring clearer copies for documents that were photocopied askew or had highlighter marks on them but were still legible, and these are often things that do not impact the validity of the claim brought forward by the nation.
Other issues that we've experienced were cuts to other institutions such as Library and Archives Canada, and the inability of those institutions to provide us with records also strangled our progress on any claim research or submission.
One of the other big changes coming into Justice at Last was this idea of black-box processing of claims. Our firm used to have quite a high level of engagement with our analyst compatriots on the department side, and under the first few years of Justice at Last, namely the last 10, we lost that ability to collaborate with the analysts and have any sort of discussion. Counter-research reports used to be issued and submitted to the first nation that identified Canada's acceptance of a claim, on what grounds, or a denial of a claim. Evidence given to the first nation to explain those types of things are no longer received.
Members of the committee have not yet had an opportunity to read and review the 2016 Office of the Auditor General report. I would strongly suggest that document form part of your research into the issues around specific claims. Many, many, of the issues brought forward by first nations communities and by my colleagues in other claims research units from British Columbia—and I'm sure you'll hear from across Canada—have been bringing these claims forward for a number of years.
The Auditor General's report that was released last year solidified those claims as having evidence. So any issue that we've brought forward, the Auditor General found evidence of that issue being brought forward. There was proof, and it's undeniable. I would strongly recommend that you take that report into consideration.
We have seen some positive changes since the release of the report. We have been able to reach out to analysts. We have had some of those collaborative opportunity approaches come forward, and we've also seen a return to at least some information-sharing from the department when it comes to a reasoning for a claim being accepted. We haven't yet quite got to the point of a claim being accepted as valid after this period of change. But we are seeing some positive hints. Our biggest thing is we'd like to see those changes entrenched in the legislation because right now, it's at the whim of the director of the department or the head of INAC or the now-split department. Until those types of changes are solidified in legislation, there's no guarantee that this type of behaviour and that level of engagement with the first nations communities and the CRUs doing this work is going to be continued.
When we talk about the resolution of claims and the negotiation process, one of the biggest entitlements that you've heard today is this full and final release. The problem when it comes to the specific claim side is the government was willing to acknowledge partial acceptances, so they would find one of a number of allegations made in a file's specific claim to be valid but not find an outstanding legal obligation for the other allegations made by the first nation.
When it came time to negotiate those claims, if the claim was found to be a value large enough to determine that negotiations were possible, to agree to negotiate the first nation would have to agree to give up any right to pursue the other aspects of the claim where Canada didn't find an outstanding legal obligation. The way one of my directors has put it is Canada agrees to negotiate as long as the first nation agrees not to.
Another thing you see lots of is the elimination of the claim backlog. Again, this is a large part of the idea of partial acceptances, of getting a part of your claim recognized. That ends up pulling the claim back out of that process. It lands back in our CRU's lap. We end up splitting and resubmitting these claims, which doubles or triples workload for an issue that had it ended up at a negotiation table, Canada might have found a legal obligation or might have been willing to discuss those issues and resolve the concerns of the community.
As we've all identified, 10 minutes today is not a lot of time to go through all these issues, so as many others have said, a more fulsome report will be coming from our firm, we hope.
A couple of quick things, I didn't quite catch the time, but I'll keep going.
Change in federal negotiators; you've heard about that today. I can give you a few more concrete examples. We have one community that's now on its ninth federal negotiator. If you do that over the term of the negotiation, nine federal negotiator changes and a year uptake on each of those negotiators to come to the table, and again you've heard this morning, many of them come without a mandate. They come without the ability to offer anything more than an update on Canada's decision-making and are not able to make a decision.
I'm going to flip quickly into my recommendations and hope that I can get through most of them in my remaining time today. Obviously, there are many more but the Specific Claims Tribunal's power and authority need to be expanded and enhanced, particularly with respect to mediation and negotiations case management. We asked at one point for mediation with Canada and we were denied because to participate in mediation, both parties have to agree, and Canada refused to agree to mediate.
First nations must have the right to invoke the Specific Claims Tribunal's intervention without Canada's consent at any point in the process and not just after three years of collapse within the negotiations framework.
An independent specific claims funding allocation body should be established to fund all aspects of resolving outstanding claims. The Specific Claims Tribunal Act should be amended to eliminate restrictions on the types of claims. Any breach should be valid.
The Specific Claims Tribunal Act should be able to award non-pecuniary damages for breaches of solemn and sacred treaty promises where the honour of the crown is at stake.
The Specific Claims Tribunal Act should have the authority to hear claims before three years have elapsed if Canada has been stalling or impeding negotiations.
The Specific Claims Tribunal should have the authority to reduce or eliminate outstanding negotiation loans incurred as a result of the federal foot-dragging, policy flip-flops, or bad-faith negotiations.
And finally, we need to eliminate the early review submission process by the specific claims branch so the claim should start with a finding of validity by the Specific Claims Tribunal.
Our hope is that this process will encourage Canada to honour the four pillars outlined in Justice At Last.
In summary, all of Canada's practices in an effort to save funding and reduce costs at the specific claims branch have ended up frustrating first nations to the point where they are driven out of the process entirely and wind up in court or at the tribunal, which are both a more costly endeavour than if Canada were to have honourably negotiated fair settlements for these claims from the start.
First of all, I want to thank the Tsawwassen people for allowing us to take care of this important business on their traditional lands.
The Maa-nulth first nations treaty society represents the five first nations signatories to the Maa-nulth treaty. Specifically, we are the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations, the Toquaht Nation, the Uchucklesaht Tribe and Ucluelet First Nation.
The Maa-nulth Treaty came into effect in April of 2011 and is currently the only modern treaty concluded with multiple nations. The fact that it took our five communities a decade and a half to negotiate and ratify this instrument speaks to the complexity and the difficulty of treaty-making and the process for reconciliation within Canada.
Treaty-making is complex, expensive, and politically difficult. As a result, any submission and short presentation intended to provide an analysis of Canada’s policy on modern day treaty-making can only scratch the surface. Because of time and resource constraints, we will limit this submission to a few observations and recommendations.
However, speaking as parties who have completed a modern treaty, we have paid the price for making a treaty and have learned a great many lessons. We have a deep understanding of what is required to negotiate a treaty, how a first nation transitions out of the Indian Act into treaty structures and self-government, and how to function as governments and economic entities in a post-treaty world.
Each of the Maa-nulth first nations can now point to their governments that are founded on community-approved constitutions, comprehensive self-made legislation, and a respect for the rule of law. Each of our communities can now point to significant economic success stories, and each of our communities can now identify instances of cultural rejuvenation and reconciliation with our neighbours. These general successes cannot and should not be seen as a completed undertaking. They are merely the first step in a long and complicated journey to reconciliation.
What we will suggest in this submission are simply a few observations and recommendations on how to make that journey easier for everyone. We've limited our presentation to identifying three areas.
First, on modern treaties and reconciliation, from our experience, modern treaties should be seen, not as an end in themselves but as a constructive tool in successfully terminating the historic colonial relationship that has characterized our experience with non-aboriginal governments and societies. A modern treaty is a tool that enables us to define our own institutions of government and to empower those governments to better meet the needs of our citizens. While these are tools that make immediate changes in the structure of our relationship, the success in the use of this tool can only be measured over time. True reconciliation can only happen over time.
Neither reconciliation nor treaties should be viewed as a single event at fixed point in time. Reconciliation should be viewed as an ongoing process, and treaties as a living expression of a relationship. Moreover, the ability to confidently conclude that success has occurred, and that reconciliation is taking place, requires an ability to be informed by facts and data. In turn, future steps to enhance reconciliation must be shaped by the factual and statistical data accumulated over time in the post-treaty experiences of first nations. Laws and policies in the future will be better served by a sound statistical base.
Second, on modern treaties and statistical data, based on our experience in negotiations over many years, it is our view that the treaty process as currently administered is seriously deficient in its ability to contemplate a post-treaty relationship between our governments.
During our negotiations, the Maa-nulth chiefs introduced the proposition that treaties were living documents and, as such, had to be revised on a regular basis in order to determine the health of the relationship.
While we were successful in persuading Canada and British Columbia to incorporate the concept of a periodic review of the treaty every 15 years, we were not able to find wording to give precise guidance on how this review would take place. It is our understanding that the governments at that time were afraid we were simply looking for an opportunity to renegotiate the treaty at a later date. In fact, this was very much not the case. While we had no desire to renegotiate our treaty, we felt it was imperative we build a degree of flexibility to allow future generations to make economic, legal, and policy decisions that ensured that the objectives of the treaty were met. We felt, and still feel, it is critical to know which aspects of our treaty are working and which are not.
While the provisions in our treaty are not specific in this regard, it is our view that the periodic review process should be informed to the greatest degree possible by a statistical baseline of information. We therefore strongly urge Canada and British Columbia to adopt policies to foster data collection in post-treaty first nations; as well, to use various generally accepted criteria of social, economic, and policy indicators in this process; to work directly with first nations in this data collection and to invest the necessary resources in this data collection. It is our view that this information will allow for better governance and will benefit both the Maa-nulth and the federal and provincial governments. More importantly, we believe this information can be of immense assistance in bringing about true reconciliation.
On modern treaties and loan funding, in addition to acknowledging that modern treaties are living documents by which reconciliation is achieved over time, the Maa-nulth treaty nations strongly believe that the process itself must be fair and equitable. To the extent the current federal policy requires first nations to borrow money in order to participate in treaty negotiations, we believe that the process is inherently inequitable. First nations should not be required to pay to solve a problem they did not create, a problem that has had profound adverse effects upon our communities for generations. We agreed to this policy approach and to borrow a great deal of money because we felt we had no alternative if we were going to bring about an end to the historic colonial relationship.
However, the existence of these loans has proved to be both a political and an economic hardship. If Canada truly wants reconciliation with first nations, we urge you to, first, eliminate the required borrowing provisions in the comprehensive claims policy; second, forgive the loans that are currently outstanding for communities that have been engaged in treaty negotiations; and third, to the extent that any community has repaid any portion of their loans, those communities should be reimbursed for those funds.
With that, we thank you for the opportunity to express our views on these matters. It should be noted, however, that there are a great many more aspects to the claims policy about which we have views and recommendations.
Given the magnitude of the task you have taken on and the limited time we had to prepare and present our perspective, we would like to recommend that the standing committee allow Maa-nulth communities further time to prepare a more comprehensive analysis of your policy. If this were to be the case, we would be most willing to appear before you a second time and to speak to your recommendations.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity.