The New GNN Website is here!
Here is our opportunity to provide information to help you better understand the status of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations (GNN) Treaty Process.
This updated GNN website has been a long time coming. The upgraded site will give us new communication tools with information to help each member be fully aware of activities that are planned as well as reports about work done in the treaty process (see TRMs and studies carried out that will be soon linked here). The tools used to communicate with you will be written, adding photographs, audio recordings, audio visual recordings and other documents such as newly produced GNN Brochures. Our film, How a People Live, will also be linked for easy access.
Communication is Key to understanding the Treaty Process
At community meetings hosted by the GNN Treaty Office over the years, we talked about and heard of the need for improved communication between GNN Treaty and GNN members. This new GNN Website will assist in this way, in addition it can be supplemented by Facebook and Instagram activity for those who search news and information through social media sources.
Communication Since Covid-19
Conference Call and Zoom Meetings are the new way meetings are held since the Covid-19 Pandemic appeared. With social distancing and meeting restrictions, this website is a way to report out to community on plans, agendas, reports and schedules for meetings. Also, here you can provide feedback and opinion on matters through Q and A sections, future surveys, discussion groups and live meetings that can be shared on this website for you to attend in person or to review later.
What is Happening with Treaty Negotiations?
Currently the Treaty Team, (please see list and photos of members on the treaty team included here), attend Conference and Zoom meetings on a weekly basis, the main sessions are the Main Table Negotiation Conference and Zoom/Skype calls between our GNN Negotiation team, the Federal and Provincial negotiation teams. During these once per month three-day sessions, we deal with topics related to the following: lands; natural resources such as fish and forests, shellfish, plants and wildlife; rebuilding in the Homelands; remediation of the homelands where contamination has occurred; GNN laws – GNN traditional and modern governance, GNN jurisdiction in the territories; fiscal/taxation issues; return and repatriation of artefacts and cultural objects held by museums; parks; and infrastructure such as Tsulquate Bridge repair as well as our planned Gukwdzi (Bighouse). At the Main Table Sessions we help to facilitate in areas such as Children and Family Jurisdiction by bringing Government representatives to the ‘table’ to work with our Staff to help seek resolution to issues. We work closely with GNN Chief and Council, the Band Manager and departments to achieve goals.
Recognition of Rights and Title and Loan Forgiveness
Why have treaty negotiations taken so long? For too long the GNN were mandated and prepared to negotiate a GNN treaty but we faced the roadblock of federal and provincial governments without a mandate to make progress, the biggest impediment was lack of recognition of GNN Title and Rights to our GNN territories in Smith Inlet, Seymour Inlet and out-lying islands. Another block was what is referred to as “certainty”, the governments argued that certainty of who had title and rights needed to be final, as set out in a final agreement. The word extinguishment was used to characterize the lands at the end of negotiations. To make matters worse, our Nations were required to take out a loan to negotiate with governments who held tight to their ‘positions’. Our political leaders united together with concerns about this process of negotiations. Eventually through the BC Treaty Commission, the First Nations Summit, several ground-breaking court cases and an international recognition of basic rights, (Tsilquotin Court Case, Delgamuukw Court Case, UNDRIP), the governments changed their positions.
Recently, at the Main Table Negotiation session in July, the federal negotiator presented new federal law that is based on Recognition of Rights and Title. Also we received a letter from Minister Carolyn Bennet saying all past and present negotiation loans are forgiven. And there will be no additional negotiation loans in the future.
What is next for Treaty?
We continue with the Tripartite Negotiations – the GNN Treaty Team which includes Chief, Council, Hereditary Chiefs, legal/technical advisors and staff meet to carry out work plans that have been developed. We align ourselves with a schedule that lists dates for meeting to take place a full year in advance. In addition to the regularly scheduled negotiation sessions, the Treaty Team prepares proposals to fund negotiations as well as other projects such as the following current and past TRM’s: “Tsulquate Land Study for Housing”, “Warner Bay Contamination and Remediation Plan”, “Restoring Traditional Knowledge for Land and Resource Management”, “Conservancy Management in GNN Territories” “Comprehensive Community Plan Development for 2020-21” “Archaeological Studies in GNN Village Sites” “Communications Strategy” “Historical Traditions and Modern Governance” and “2019 GNN Land Use Plan” to name just a few of the activities. The reports provide data and detail required to strengthen our negotiations, and they will be available for GNN Members to access on this new GNN website.
Treaty and Covid-19
Treaty negotiations and activities have not been impacted by Covid-19, some say the frequency of meetings and activities have increased over the last 6 months. An example of recent progress is when our treaty team along with our lands and resources office worked with the Province, who assisted with funds and Canada, who stepped forward to help with a clean-up, of one of our ancient village sites in ‘Nakwaxda’xw Territory, called, Warner Bay. This is one example of many situations and activities that will be regularly written about in the Treaty Updates to appear here on our new GNN website.
Gratitude and Acknowledgements
Thank you for this new site goes to the GNN Web designers Kelsey Wood, the band manager, the GNN departments, the GNN treaty team, especially contractor Sharlene Frank, for completing details required for this website, it has taken a period of a year to get this done and here we are!
Thank you Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw folks for your continued support as we progress through these times. There are many challenges to be faced but we know with the strength of your support, the strength of our leaders and staff/contractors as well as the wisdom of our elders, the life ways that our children and future generations deserve here in Tsulquate and in the Homelands will be achieved.
Chief Negotiator, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations