Treaties have paved the way for growth and reconciliation for First Nations who have signed them.
That was the message presented Wednesday by B.C. treaty commission representatives in Campbell River talking with local businesses about treaties and how they can support reconciliation.
“The way I see tonight it is all about us being able to share with one another, our own experiences of how we can develop friendships, develop partnerships and develop arrangements so we are looking more forward than…where we came from,” said Frances Frank, commissioner for the BC Treaty Commission.
He continued by encouraging the people in the room to share their life experiences, mingle and learn.
Commissioner Tanya Corbet will be celebrating 10 years of a treaty with her community, the Tsawwassen First Nation, next year.
“The treaty was the reason and is the foundation for the success we are achieving at our nation,” she said. “It has provided certainty and transparency through our self governing powers. It has helped attract world class developers and partners.”
Corbet said they started the treaty implementation process by investing in infrastructure, including widening the highway, new water lines, a sewage treatment plant and investing in community spaces.
“Through this development we were a regional job creation source, creating thousands of jobs, not only in the construction but in the operation of all of these projects,” she said.
Through their successes they have become a participant in the regional economy. They have increased property values and now have a part in the dialogue for regional growth.
She quoted Chief Bryce Williams, to explain the goals of treaty.
“Let’s find a way to work together to make both of our communities sustainable, successful and prosperous. Let’s collaborate, work together, make things happen.
“We can jointly address and advocate to the different levels of government about our common concerns and issues of interest for our region.”
For Homalco Chief, Darren Blaney, who spoke at the event, reconciliation is about healing.
“I think reconciliation is healing, reconciliation means that our kids can have dreams, they can aspire to be something. Right now when they are fighting trauma it is not there,” he said. “All that trauma is basically stripped them of all their ambitions and all their goals.”
At the moment, the Laich-Kwil-Tach Council of Chiefs, comprised of the We Wai Kai, are in stage four of six in negotiating their treaty. The Wei Wai Kum/Kwiakah Treaty Society are in stage four of negotiations as are the Homalco and the Tlowitsis.