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NESDAY | JUNE 4 | 2008

Wednesday.April 13.2016 Powell River Peak »


Recognizing self-governance

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Tla’amin Nation embraces and celebrates self-governance

First nation ushers in new era and relationships with neighbours

JANET MAY Peak contributor

This is not the first time Tla’amin Nation has had self-governance; it just had a break of about 150 years. Today’s generation has the work of retooling its nation under completely different circumstances; a tremendous task, but they are not alone. Tla’amin elders advised their community about past resources and traditional ways; some of them passed away before Tla’amin realized self-government. Tla’amin hegus Clint Williams recognizes the elders and also acknowledges the assistance of other first nations that have achieved self-governance in BC. In addition, Tla’amin’s recent relationships with City of Powell River and Powell River Regional District have built trust and capacity for all parties. A nation is defined as a tight-knit group of people who share a common culture. Tla’amin has always been a nation, but now it is a self-governing nation within the country of Canada. Many of the laws that govern Tla’amin are the same as for the rest of Canada, but some specific laws are newly written. In these specific areas Tla’amin people will have different rights and responsibilities than other Canadians. We will find out how that affects them and their neighbours. Evan Adams and Jan Padgett’s 2003 documentary film Klah Ah Men, about the treaty process, includes consultation interviews with elders, which emphasize the connection between

Congratulations to Tla’amin Nation We wish you the best

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Congratulations to Tla’amin Nation I am honoured to witness this historical event and see the results of all your hard work over the years I look forward to the many changes that will help you grow and thrive in the years to come – Warren Behan

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7100 Alberni Street 604.485.9811 nesses evolve on Tla’amin lands.” Economic development on Tla’amin land will influence the neighbouring communities as well. Neighbour relationships are an important part of Tla’amin Nation’s future. A 2007 pilot study for the BC Treaty Commission identified a legacy of cooperation around community and land-use planning issues

between Tla’amin and local governments. Since then, relationships between Tla’amin, the city and the regional district have matured, and mutual respect has developed between leaders. We are entering a new phase in those relationships. Francis is optimistic. “We are good neighbours and we believe a gain for Tla’amin is a gain for the whole region,”

he said. “The better we do, the better the region surrounding us does as well. We are partners.” Success is not a certainty, however. There are challenges ahead, and one of the greatest is from within. The treaty-ratification vote in 2012 was a very close race, and there are still dissenting voices among Tla’amin people. Williams has said pub»B4


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Congratulations Congratulations on the formation of self-governance We recognize the importance of this landmark occasion

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Tla’amin people and the land that sustains them. The land component of the treaty settlement is a direct result of the elders’ input. Tla’amin’s traditional territory includes land around and within Powell River. Tla’amin people have treaty rights to hunt, gather, and fish in their traditional territory. About 2.6 per cent of traditional territory (8,322 hectares) is specified in the final treaty agreement as Tla’amin Nation land. Not only does the Tla’amin government have ownership of the lands, it also has lawmaking authority over it. This combination is a very significant change from the situation under the Indian Act, where Tla’amin people occupied reserve lands that were controlled and owned by the Canadian government. Tla’amin chief treaty negotiator Roy Francis sees this as an amazing improvement. “I see it as a reconnection to the land and the lawmaking authority we had prior to the Indian Act being imposed across the nation,” said Francis. “In practical terms, Tla’amin’s lawmaking authority gives us the ability to manage what sort of busi-

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Nation to treat all Tla’amin equally B3« TLA’AMIN licly that everyone will be treated the same by the Tla’amin government, whether they voted in favour of treaty or not. Some who questioned the treaty now accept that the journey has begun and there are new conditions to adapt to. It is uncertain what will happen after the first self-government elections in September 2016 and how the direction set by the first elected leadership will affect all of our communities. Another outcome from the treaty process is increased local recognition and respect for Tla’amin traditions. A recent celebration of elder Elsie Paul brought people together to acknowledge the contribution she has made to native and non-native communities. Paul herself remembers the poison of prejudice between people in our communities. Today, Paul witnesses the benefits of growing pride in her community, especially among the youth. “It is really important to acknowledge young people for what they are doing, but to always remind them of their heritage and where their ancestors came from,” said Paul, “whether you are a first nations person, or German, or Chinese or whatever.” School District 47 and Tla’amin have worked together for decades to include Tla’amin teachings in Powell River schools, for indigenous and non-indigenous students. First nations coordinator Gail Blaney and her predecessor Betty Wilson regularly invite grade four classes to Sliammon Hatchery in the fall. Students are told stories, shown basket weaving and carving, share in dancing and music,

and taste toasted salmon and fish-egg soup. James Thomson Elementary School has embedded Tla’amin language and cultural teaching in its daily life. Over the years many programs have been designed for Tla’amin students as well. Tla’amin language is taught at Brooks Secondary School and is accepted as a second language for entry into two BC universities. On National Aboriginal Day, June 21, schools will participate in a first nations celebration at Willingdon Beach. Students will also see a rehearsal of a new staged reading based on Paul’s book, Written as I Remember It: Teachings (ʔəms taʔaw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder, at Max Cameron Theatre; the play will be performed for the public at 7 pm that evening. It would be hard to overstate the significance of the changes happening in Tla’amin these days. A minute before midnight on April 4, 2016, about 100 witnesses counted down the final seconds of the Indian Act’s power over Tla’amin. At midnight, in the lofty atrium of Tla’amin Governance House, chief and council became hegus and legislative assembly, then the first modern Tla’amin laws were signed. Eugene Louie asked everyone in attendance to be witnesses to the historic events. Drumming, singing, dancing and food were shared. As always, Tla’amin welcomed its neighbours with generosity. It has been a long journey for Tla’amin Nation and Powell River. Our futures are connected. Whatever will come, now is the time to say congratulations to Tla’amin. We are proud to be your neighbours.

Your future is strong and bright Congratulations

Congratulations to Tla’amin Nation

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Interview with Tla’amin Nation hegus Clint Williams Just days after Tla’amin Nation’s historic transition to selfgovernment, the Peak sat down with Tla’amin hegus Clint Williams to capture his thoughts on the transition, how the nation’s new government is structured, provisions of the treaty and what it ultimately will mean for his people CHRIS BOLSTER

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Vancouver Island University staff, faculty and students congratulate Tla’amin on having forged a new relationship with Canada, the province of British Columbia and the people who are residing on traditional lands of the Tla’amin Nation. May your people and nation continue to grow and prosper as you transition into selfgovernance and may we all be inspired as we collaborate and partner in new and good ways. With gratitude, VIU - Powell River Campus Powell River Campus 100-7085 Nootka Street


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Q. Tla’amin Nation is three days into self-government? How has the transition been? A. The transition has been really good so far. The night we welcomed in self-government we passed all our laws and regulations and appointments all unanimously, so I think that’s a pretty strong message in itself. Q. Is it now time for getting processes normalized? A. Yeah, I don’t think this week is going to be normal. With the spread out of the effective date and the celebration, we haven’t really gotten to do too much, but there has been a lot of behindthe-scenes paperwork getting put in place, and funds are being transferred. We haven’t had any other meetings of the legislature or executive council. We will probably wait until April 20 or 21 to have our first sit-down after all this welcoming in. Q. Can you tell me about the structure of the Tla’amin Nation government? A. It’ll be very similar to the provincial government system. We will have legislators and an executive council. Legislators will only be passing laws and voting on budgets, bigger laws like that. The executive councillors, which will be a smaller group, will be handling the more day-to-day operations. There will be four executive councillors and the chief, which will be called the hegus (hay-goos), the Tla’amin term for leadership. »B4

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Leadership key to new government B3« TLA’AMIN Q. Is this executive council like a cabinet? A. It’ll be similar. It is the members of the legislature that will head the roles in areas that we feel they will do a good job in, such as finance. We will find the person with the best background in finance to lead that. Then there are lands and resources and programs and services. We have six months to look at that and an election to go through. Things

have been hectic in the run up to implementation, but I have a feeling things will continue that way for the next year or two. It’s going to be a lot of learning and growing pains as we’re doing the implementation. Q. You mentioned previously that Tla’amin will be looking at expanding its treaty settlement lands. Will Tla’amin move to expropriate land that is in its traditional territory? A. There are provisions that al-

low us to purchase other lands and make additions to the treaty settlement lands, and there are a few areas that we’ve flagged and are interested in adding to the settlement lands. We are looking at vacant Crown land, but we can buy either vacant Crown land or private land. Private land is willing buyer, willing seller. Vacant Crown land we would be dealing with the provincial government. It would be within our traditional territory, but it would be additional lands we choose to pursue.

Q. So no one has to worry that Tla’amin Nation is going to appropriate their land or house? A. No, no. It’s a whole willing seller, willing buyer kind of thing. It’s not like we’d knock on someone’s door and say get out.

ganization will continue to operate under the Tla’amin government. The regional district has always offered that seat and we have never taken the opportunity, but now we made the appointment of Larry Louie to the seat.

Q. The nation now has a seat the Powell River Regional District hospital board, what implication will that have for Tla’amin Health? A. I don’t think it’s really going to affect it too much. Our health or-

Q. How about the larger regional district board? Will you send a representative to sit on that board? A. It is an option to sit on the regional district board, but we will have to weigh the pros and cons of that.

Your perseverance and dedication has contributed to the final stage of the treaty signing Congratulations.

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Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak » B9

Q. There is a lot of development in the Theodosia Valley area; development that has raised environmental concerns for Tla’amin. With this treaty can we expect to see a different approach to development in the valley? A. There’s supposed to be a shared decision-making model in the Theodosia area. We’re supposed to have a process, but I don’t think that’s been set up. We’re still working on that agreement. The whole reason for pursuing the shared decisionmaking was to address the environmental concerns we’ve watched happening over the years. Q. Is that shared decision-making with the province? A. It’s a combination of a few different parties, because there is more than one stakeholder in the valley. It’s trying to get everyone to a roundtable to have discussions on how to manage that valley for the better, as a team. Q. A provision in the treaty speaks to devel-

oping a fishing industry for Tla’amin. Is that accurate? A. There are a couple of clauses in the treaty for us to purchase commercial fishing licences, so there is an opportunity there. We just have to make decisions and consult with our development corporation on how to operate them.

awful lot we can do but make commitments that we haven’t entered this process blindly. We entered this to improve the lives of all the Tla’amin people. Some of the sections of the treaty actually increase service levels. The other thing is that we’ll no longer receive year-to-year funding. We’ll be funded in five-year block funding.

Q. In your view, how does this treaty change the nation’s relationship with the federal Crown? A. It 100 per cent removes the Indian Act and has us being self-governing, so by that it means if there are any disputes or decisions that need to be made, we’re going to have to deal with them as a self-governing nation and no longer have the Department of Indian Affairs sorting them out.

Q. So that will allow for more strategic planning? A. Yeah, for sure. We can now look at things for a fiveyear period, instead of right now not knowing if we’re going to be funded for something the next year. That’s a benefit.

Q. How do you respond to people who are suspicious that this treaty is a construct of the federal government in order to reduce services to your people? A. People are afraid of change and there’s not an

Q. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with readers? A. I’m thinking back to the night of the celebration and the faces, the sense of accomplishment and pride, and watching how our people have embraced getting rid of the Indian Act. It held a number of not wonderful memories for us. It was part of the system that allowed the residential schools to come into place with the sole

We extend warm wishes for a bright future of independence and success for the Tla’amin Nation

Tla’amin Nation cheh cheh hah thesht (We raise our hands to you)

since 1954

since 1954




goal of chilling the Indian in the child and trying to blend us in with the rest of society. With this, some of the symbolism we’re doing is that we’ve just raised the three, 16-foot poles with six figures at our new administration building. We’ve got a totem pole that represents the past, one that represents the current and one that represents the future. So

Wishing all of you health, happiness and continued cultural richness

we are as Tla’amin people and our culture will be front and centre. A lot of people think we are trying to go the other way and not celebrate being Tla’amin and native, and it’s really the opposite. The Indian Act never made or defined us as Tla’amin, so with this we pay respect to our culture, our ancestors and improve the lives of the Tla’amin people.

Your dedication and strength are applauded on reaching this historical achievement


~ Rick, Fred and staff


604.485.6411 |

paying respect to the past, present and future and we have three welcoming figures: a man, a woman and a child. We really want people to look at it as we are trying to improve and strengthen culture and we have that authority and ability to do that now. That’s what we want to do and the purpose of the six figures is to really show that we are re-establishing who

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čəčəhatanapɛšt cheh cheh ha tun ah pesht We raise our hands to you

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Our best wishes on this historic day and for a bright future


Our congratulations to the citizens of Tla’amin Nation

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We respectfully offer our best wishes to the Tla’amin Nation

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Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak » B11

Scouts Canada donates land to Tla’amin Nation

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that could not be passed up, according to an official from Scouts Canada. Representatives from the national scouting organization, including Will Van Delft, council commissioner for Scouts Canada’s Cascadia council, presented Tla’amin Nation with a gift of 74 acres of land near Hurtado Point, just southeast of Lund, at the nation’s treaty implementation celebration on Saturday, April 9, at Evergreen Theatre. “It’s a nice gesture,” said Tla’amin hegus Clint Williams. “We really appreciate Scouts Canada acknowledging the traditional territory of the Tla’amin

In honour of your culture and traditions, we congratulate you


This signing marks a significant step for Tla’amin Nation

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niversary in 2013. “Scouting has been here a while,” he said. “It could have

been that he was an old scouter. I’m not sure, but he must have known about Scouts and taken a

liking to the idea.” Van Delft explained that when he moved to Powell River four years »B12

Congratulations from the Museum staff

Congratulations on the final step to a new beginning

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On behalf of Lund citizens, we wish Tla’amin Nation congratulations

In recognition of the constitution of Tla’amin Nation, we congratulate you

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Congratulations on your self-governance

Warm wishes for a bright future of independence and success for Tla’amin Nation

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people. It’s humbling to see this.” Scouts Canada has owned the parcel of land, legally referred to as Lot A of District Lot 3879, since 1974 when it was willed to the organization from the estate of Oscar Orpana. Van Delft noted that he thought this gift could be one of the first times homesteaded land was being given back to a first nation in North America. “We came up with the idea that it would be a real symbolic gesture, once the treaty comes around, to give it to them,” said Van Delft. According to local historian Barbara Lambert’s 2015 book, Homesteading and Stump Farming of the West Coast 1880-1930, the parcel was part of the Orpana family’s homestead on the Malaspina peninsula in 1906. John Orpana, possibly Oscar’s father, died in 1940. Van Delft said after looking into Oscar’s life he was unable to determine why the man had given it to Powell River Scouts, which celebrated its 100 year an-


Organization gifts 74 acres to complete plot southeast of Lund

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Wishing continued fellowship with the Tla’amin Nation


Group returns lot B12« SCOUTS


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ago, one of things he was directed to investigate was the Orpana land and what it could be used for. “There’s no road up to it,” he said. “The only value the land would have would be to adjoining landowners.” Those landowners happen to be the Tla’amin people. The adjacent district lots of 3879, 3880 and 2815 are all treaty settlement land, said Williams. “This actually tidies up the district lot and squares off a corner for us,” he added. The land nearby to Orpana Lake can be reached by walking into it from the Hurtado Point trail, which Van Delft did. “I traipsed through the property

looking for the graves of Oscar and his mother,” said Van Delft. While he did not find the final resting place of the family, he did find a haven for the local black bear population, a few beaver dams, a stream of full of cutthroat trout and fields of wild cranberries. After his search, he looked into the provincial archives to learn that Oscar had been cremated with his ashes scattered on the property. He said he is not sure if Oscar’s mother’s grave is located there, “but it’s been more than 40 years and a lot has changed,” he said. The parcel’s value was appraised at between $75,000 to $125,000. “Once we realized we didn’t need the money, it was easy to give away,” said Van Delft.

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With the help of Powell RiverSunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons, Van Delft and Tina Bevans, group commissioner for First Powell River Scouts, were introduced to Williams in November 2015. To show appreciation, Williams said Van Delft and Bevans were invited to a Tla’amin community dinner; one of the nation’s drum groups performed an honour song for them and they were given traditional button blankets. Van Delft said the experience has stuck with him since. “I’ve still got the blanket here on my chair,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be able to be a part of what’s happening here. This was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”

A historical event for Tla’amin Nation We applaud and congratulate you on this achievement

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The work The commitment The signing A new beginning

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Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak » B13

Congratulations from all of us at Tourism Powell River

We wish you a bright and prosperous future from your friends in Tourism Development

čɛčɛhaθɛč cheh cheh hathetch I thank/honour you all Tourism coastal by nature Visitor Centre at 4760 Joyce Avenue 604.485.4701 •

We look forward to your future and to continue growing our relationship with the Tla’amin Nation

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B14 Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

New relationships and a clear vision Continue to move forward




Congratulations and best wishes

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MCC Powell River Thrift celebrates with Tla’amin Nation At MCC, we value living in right relationship with God, one another and with creation. We congratulate Tla’amin First Nation on the signing of the historic Tla’amin Treaty and look forward to walking a new path of reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours.

15 Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

A message from City of Powell River I cannot express how extremely pleased I am for Tla’amin Nation to finally achieve its ultimate goal of self-government. The fact that Tla’amin people have laboured for two decades to effectively conclude the BC Treaty process speaks strongly to their steadfast desire to be independent decision-makers. Tla’amin’s diligence and determination in creating its own gov-

ernment, complete with the regulations, laws and responsibilities that accompany the role, is to be commended. Ensuring Tla’amin Nation can better utilize the rewards of what its land and resources offer is of significant importance and one we clearly understand and respect. Tla’amin people now have a stronger voice; a governing voice.

The nation is no longer confined within the dictates of the Indian Act. It is our fervent hope that any divide Tla’amin may have experienced along the way, in pursuit of treaty and selfgovernment, will fade in time with the success of its new beginning. I am confident Tla’amin Nation will do all in its power to make a positive difference for its people. As always, we are pleased to support

Tla’amin people in their initiatives as they begin their journey on this new and well-deserved path. On behalf of mayor, council and citizens of Powell River, I wish to express our support and congratulations to Tla’amin on becoming a selfgoverning nation. We look forward to continuing our close relationship and supporting each others’ efforts for the betterment of all our citizens.

David J. Formosa, mayor

A message from Powell River Regional District

Patrick Brabazon, chair

April marks the culmination of a very long and winding road for our community and our Tla’amin Nation neighbours. Two decades ago, Tla’amin sat down with the federal and provincial governments to negotiate an escape from the Indian Act, and a new status allowing the selfgovernance of its internal affairs. Over time, Powell River Regional District joined the

May you enjoy good health and much happiness ~ Kitty

Kitty Clemens, RHN CPCC 604.489.0200 • •

discussion in recognition of the fundamental change in the Tla’amin relationship with senior governments, as well as with us, its neighbours. Every first nation final agreement breaks new ground, as no two first nations are the same, in terms of territory, history and aspirations. It was with Tla’amin Nation and the folks on the other side of the table, in-

cluding the regional district, that we had to come to terms with the special aspects of Tla’amin self-governance. That the various sticking points and obstacles were overcome in a spirit of good will and compromise says much about the negotiators for all parties. This month Tla’amin Nation will take its seat at the regional hospital board and join the seven other directors in consider-

Proud to witness this historic event 604.485.HUNT (4868) 4466 Marine Avenue

ing our local government support for our hospital, our extended care facility, and all of the other issues, great and small, which contribute to our extended community. As well, the final agreement provides Tla’amin Nation membership on the regional district board. This will be Tla’amin’s choice and may occur sometime in the future. Speaking for the board,

I earnestly hope they exercise that option. Doing so would provide another avenue for discussion and cooperation, to the benefit of all. That said, Tla’amin is stepping out under new rules with new opportunities. For now, all of us can offer congratulations and best wishes; the nitty gritty of local governance relations can wait. Well done, Tla’amin!

Congratulations to the Tla’amin Nation as you embark on your next journey Striker Patterson


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16 Wednesday.April 13.2016 | Powell River Peak »

Tla’amin Nation Treaty

The City of Powell River offers heartfelt congratulations to its partner, the Tla’amin Nation, in finalizing their treaty and looks forward to continuing its strong relationship long into the future. May our journey together continue to bear the fruit of our collective efforts. As always, we remain proud to stand beside you and support you in your efforts and plans as we move forward as neighbours and governments.

Congratulations to Chief and Council and the people of Tla’amin Nation Your steadfast determination has resulted in the Tla’amin final agreement. We offer our support for your continued wisdom and strong guidance as you now proceed along your journey of self-governance.

Best wishes


Tla'amin Nation: Recognizing self-governance  
Tla'amin Nation: Recognizing self-governance