Snuneymuxw First Nation has signed a new memorandum of understanding with both the federal and provincial governments that sets out priorities including “near-term land reconciliation.”
Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin and federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett signed the MOU during a virtual meeting, according to a press release from the province.
The B.C. ministry says the tripartite MOU formalizes a new negotiations table involving the federal, provincial and Snuneymuxw governments, and sets out priority items for resolution including the 1854 treaty and land. The release notes that the First Nation is pursuing a series of specific land claims, “which have been accepted for negotiation or require resolution to advance meaningful reconciliation.”
Wyse said in the release that the new memorandum of understanding represents a step in a long journey for Snuneymuxw chiefs and leaders.
“Snuneymuxw is encouraged by the conclusion of this agreement with Canada and British Columbia,” Wyse said. “It is historic and path-breaking in that it provides acknowledgment and a way forward to address historical issues pertaining to our traditional territories and impacts to our rights and practices. We now feel governments will be paddling the same path with us to uphold the treaty and ensure it is implemented as intended.”
The release noted that Snuneymuxw and the Government of Canada continue to work toward the transfer of the former Camp Nanaimo property to the First Nation. The province added that agreements such as the just-announced MOU “address the historical impacts of colonialism through the return of traditional lands and a strengthening of Indigenous-led stewardship and protection of traditional territories and marine areas.”
Bennett called the MOU a “significant milestone” and said supporting Indigenous nations in fulfilling their visions of self-determination is critical to advancing reconciliation. Rankin said Snuneymuxw and the federal and provincial governments are working collaboratively “to support reconciliation and resolve long-standing and often challenging issues.”