RIGHTS AND TITLE
Working with Other Nations
Over the past two years the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Squamish Nations have been working closely together on a collaborative approach to governmental negotiations. Approved by all three nation councils, the negotiations group seeks to maximize the results of negotiation discussions with the provincial and federal governments. This collaborative approach is an historic development in advancing self-government rights, and the recognition of rights and title for all nationsnegotiating land issues outside the treaty process within their traditional territories.
Tsilhqot’in Case regarding Aboriginal Title – In 2012, the Court of Appeal ruled on an Aboriginal title claim put forth by the Tsilhqot’in. The court held that nations could not have sufficiently occupied a traditional territory as determined in previous court cases but only had a limited presence in a broad territory. From this ruling Nations would be required to prove that Aboriginal title existed in site specific areas in which they had regular and intensive use with reasonable boundaries capable of being defined by the court or government of the day. Site specific areas would be: village sites, spiritual sites, hunting and fishing areas, or other areas as defined for traditional gathering uses. The court felt that this new approach would better reconcile the rights and interests of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
For the Squamish Nation, the court decision will have implications on future consultation and accommodation matters on crown land. However, due to the proactive work that has been done over the past 15 years: to define areas of use within the traditional territory, the extensive interviews and traditional use studies that have been completed, and the signing of the Strategy Land Use Agreement with the Province of British Columbia, the impacts of the Tsilhqot’in Case will be minimized.
It is the goal of Intergovernmental Relations to complete phase two studies of our traditional territory to ensure that as case law changes, the strength and sovereign nature of the Squamish Nation is not diminished.
Whistler Traditional Use Studies
Over the past year the negotiation group has been working with the Lil’wat Nation to define the areas of use within the boundaries of Whistler Blackcomb. These traditional use studies will help determine the impacts that have occurred since the implementation of the resort and ski hill in that area.
Burnco Aggregate Mine, Sunshine Coast
The Nation was approached on a crown land consultation regarding the proposed Burnco Aggregate gravel mine on the Sunshine Coast. The Nation will be meeting with the Province to determine how the process of environmental assessment will take place. The ultimate goal is to ensure that crown land use does not alienate or infringe on the traditional use of the area.
Federal Properties – Disposition of Land and Buildings, Metro Vancouver
The Squamish Nation is working in collaboration with Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam on the disposition of four federally-owned properties within Metro Vancouver. The negotiation group has meet with Assistant Deputy Ministers and will continue negotiations on federal properties that are within the traditional territory of our nations.
Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish
After consultation with membership, Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council approved the crown land consultation request that was received from the Sea to Sky Gondola Corporation. This proposal will see a gondola located near the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, with a lookout and eating area at the top of the gondola area. The agreement will provide jobs, economic opportunity to members, royalties, and future development opportunities to the Nation.
Park Conservation, Squamish
On February 16, 2012 the Nation hosted a signing ceremony between the Province of British Columbia and the Squamish Nation. The signing ceremony symbolized the completion of a conservancy management plan for Este-tilwilh/Sigurd Creek, Brackendale Eagles Park, Baynes Island Ecological Reserve and Tantalus Park. The Agreement will protect 13,000 hectares of land within the traditional territory ensuring co-management and protection of our lands for smenhems (those that follow). This work builds on the vision of the Squamish people to develop land use plans that protect our territories, and our sacred and Wild Spirit Places.
Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline
W, the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations held a canoe gathering on September 1, 2012, and the Squamish Nation co-hosted a concert on September 2, 2012. The events were to demonstrate the importance of the Salish Sea and the traditional use of those waterways and land areas since time immemorial. After consultation with membership, Chiefs & Council agreed to work closely with other nations to bring an end to the use of our waterways and land for heavy industrial purposes, such as oil tanker traffic .
Run of River Independent Power Project
There are six independent power projects within the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation. In December 2011, the Squamish Nation signed an Impact Benefit Agreement with Run of River Power Inc. (ROR) to develop the Skookum Creek Power Project (the “Project”). This agreement means that the Nation will have the ability to partner in the project to create revenue generation, jobs and sub-contract opportunities for Squamish Nation members and businesses.
This past July, ROR received the necessary government approvals to commence construction of the project, which is located approximately 12 kilometres east of Squamish. Once completed, the Project will produce 25 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity – enough power to for about 8,300 homes.
Preparation of the Mamquam Forest Service road for safe access to the construction site began in July. In August, tree clearing was completed along the penstock route as well as restoration of the decommissioned Skookum Creek Forest Service road. Excavation of the powerhouse site and penstock route began in September. Tree clearing for the Project’s transmission line right-of-way will begin later this year.
We have leased an area to the project for a construction material laydown yard and are providing site security, construction machinery and skilled trades workers. The project is actively seeking to hire Squamish Nation members and they encourage any interested members or businesses to contact Eric Baker at the Squamish Nation Employment Office at 604-314-2172.