A historic new agreement, between the Council of the Haida Nation and both federal and provincial governments, has been signed as a framework agreement setting the stage to reconciliation negotiations, a combined media announcement stated, on Aug 13.
The agreement, signed by the Haida Nation, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, as well as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, recognizes the Haida Nation’s inherent Title and Rights with respect to the geographic area.
The GayG̱ahlda agreement which means “Changing Tide”, also includes the intrinsic right of the Haida to self-govern.
“GayG̱ahlda represents an important opportunity to begin the process of Tll Yahda ‘making things right’ between the Crown governments and the Haida Nation,” Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, president of the Haida Nation, said. “The [agreement] framework is a historic move forward for both the federal and provincial governments by recognizing Haida Title and Rights on Haida Gwaii.”
“By shifting away from the denial politics of the past and moving to a place of truth through acknowledgment of inherent Haida title, a strong foundation for negotiations is established,” he said. “Together we have set the k’yuu ‘pathway’ to realize peaceful co-existence between the people of Haida Gwaii and between governments without compromise to the objectives of the Haida Nation.”
Discussions will be founded on the understanding that Haida inherent title exists, rather than having to be proven. The agreement also commits to negotiations in good faith to reconcile interests, including laws and management of resources, in the marine area of Haida Gwaii, the written announcement outlined.
The parties collectively stated that the negotiation agenda includes priority and long-term topics for reconciliation that will redefine the relationship between the Haida Nation, Canada and the Province. The agreement also commits to a series of good-faith measures as a starting point, which may include forestry measures, resources for governance capacity, social and cultural measures, business opportunities and fisheries and marine matters. It also describes a path forward based on a series of agreements that build on each other over time to implement Title and Rights.
“This framework is a path for the Council of the Haida Nation and all levels of government to work together in designing a future that will support a healthy environment and create a sustainable island economy,” Dluujuu Kris Olsen, mayor of the Village of Queen Charlotte, and director of the North Coast Regional District said.
One of the principles for the negotiations is that private land and the operation of municipal governments will remain under provincial jurisdiction. Any acquisition of private lands by the Haida Nation will be on a willing seller-willing buyer basis.
“This unique and groundbreaking GayG̱ahlda agreement addresses matters of First Nations Title and Rights through negotiating as equal partners, ” Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast, said. “The Haida have always been at the forefront of Title and Rights and we are proud to be moving forward together with them, the federal government and all Haida Gwaii.”
The announcement addresses the relationship between negotiations and the legal title case filed by the Haida Nation which is described in the agreement. The parties have agreed that negotiations and litigation can continue concurrently. However, the parties will not go to trial while negotiations proceed in good faith.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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