Who are the people of the Squamish Nation?
We are a group of Coast Salish people who, since time immemorial, have lived in villages in Greater Vancouver, Howe Sound and the Squamish River watershed. After contact with European settlers, 16 tribes united as the Squamish Band on July 23, 1923.
What is the size of the Squamish Nation?
Traditional Squamish territory measures 6,732 square kilometers.
How many people are members of the Squamish Nation?
Currently, we have more than 3,600 official members. More than 60% of our Membership live on Squamish Nation reserves. The others live elsewhere in Canada and around the world.
What is the Omnibus Trust Action?
In 1977, the Squamish Nation filed the Omnibus Trust Action in order to settle all its outstanding claims – those areas of reserve lands wrongfully taken from the Squamish Nation.
What is the state of Squamish Nation’s treaty negotiations?
In 1993, under the British Columbia Treaty process, the Squamish Nation officially began to negotiate aboriginal title to those lands and waters that constitute Squamish Nation traditional territory, rights to the resources of Squamish Nation traditional lands and waters, and the Squamish Nation inherent right to self-determination. The claim is currently at Stage Three of a Six Stage process. The late Squamish Chief Joe Mathias described the pace of these negotiations as “glacial’”.
What are Treaties?
Treaties are constitutionally protected, government-to-government agreements creating long-term, mutually binding commitments. Treaties negotiated through the BC treaty process will identify, define and implement a range of rights and obligations, including existing and future interests in land, sea and resources, structures and authorities of governments, regulatory processes, amending processes, dispute resolution, financial compensation and fiscal relations.
What programs and services are available to Squamish Nation Members?
The Squamish Nation delivers more than 150 programs and services to Squamish Nation membership through the Squamish Nation Administration and 13 Departments, such as: Ayas Men Men Child and Family Services, Education, Employment and Training, Health Services, Housing and Capital Projects, Registry (Land & Membership), Recreation, Community Operations and Band Manager Services.
Many of these service areas receive very little or no outside funding and therefore the Nation funds 100% of the program costs from own source revenue. More than 60% of every dollar we spend is generated by our own source revenue, including leasing and our businesses, which alsocreate employment for many nation members.
What is the Squamish Nation position regarding the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (Bill C-27)?
The Act applies standards to First Nation governments that surpass those for elected officials in many other jurisdictions. The Act will not support First Nations’ accountability, but instead will increase already onerous reporting requirements. The Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council oppose the unilateral imposition of such a law by the federal government. The federal government has not consulted with the Squamish Nation and this is a serious violation of our rights and jurisdiction.
However, we must point out that the Squamish Nation has not waited for such a law to be enacted. We are committed to having the most informed membership in the country, and exceed requirements related to financial disclosure.
What actions does the Squamish Nation take to inform Membership about Squamish Nation Finances?
We are a careful and responsible government. We carefully manage our financial and human resources and always make decisions in the interest of the collective. Further, we are committed to accountability and transparency, and to having the most informed First Nations membership in the country. As a result, we provide significant financial information to our membership on a regular basis. For example, we hold between 50-100 information meetings annually for our members, including meetings specifically focused on financial management.
We distribute our audited consolidated financial statements to our members every year. The statements, along with a comprehensive report on Nation activities are mailed to all adult members, on- and off-reserve. We hold Community Information Meetings regarding the financial statements on an annual basis, where we explain the statements and take questions from Membership.
Further, we hold annual Community Information Sessions between all Squamish Nation Departments and Membership. The Squamish approach to accountability allows departments of the nation to engage membership one on one. We respond in writing to questions posed in emails and at the Membership meetings, and share the questions and answers with all of our Membership through the distribution of Membership updates – to ensure that all members have the benefit of hearing directly from leadership.
What is the Squamish Nation position regarding Bill C-38 and C-45 (the Federal Omnibus Budget Bills)?
The current Conservative federal government, under Prime Minister Harper, recently used its majority in the House of Commons to push through the Bills, which affect approximately 90 pieces of legislation on a broad range of issues. Once fully in effect, these laws would:
- Weaken federal environmental protection laws, in particular the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
- Modify the Fisheries Act to reduce protection of fish habitat and without adequate consideration of our inherent and traditional right to fish;
- Change the Navigable Waters Protection Act to reduce the number of protected waterways and water bodies in Squamish Territory; and
- Reduce opportunities for the public and First Nations to have their say about major industrial projects that could threaten the air, water, soil and natural ecosystems.
We have serious concerns with the impact of this legislation on our Aboriginal rights and title, our culture, and the health of our lands and resources. The long term health and safety of Squamish Nation members and all Canadians may be in jeopardy. The federal government has not consulted with the Squamish Nation regarding these changes, and this is a serious violation of our rights and jurisdiction.
The Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council are committed to protecting the civil, political, cultural, social, inherent and economic rights of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw, and we rely upon our cultural teachings and traditions to defend these rights.