After negotiations that have spanned for close to two decades, the Doig River and Blueberry First Nations say a resolution in the Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) settlement process has been reached.
In a joint statement released Monday, the two councils report the results of a June 15 vote by both memberships was overwhelmingly in favour of the agreement.
“This is the culmination of almost 20 years of challenging negotiations with both levels of government," said Blueberry River Chief Judy Desjarlais.
“This settlement is a generational opportunity for our Nation, and Chief and Council looks forward to working closely with membership to realize a community-driven vision for the settlement funds and lands."
With the approval, both councils, the statement said, can move forward on signing settlement agreements with each other, the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the Province of Alberta.
“Our community has been looking forward to this day since our claim was submitted to Canada in 1999," said Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay.
“It is a time to celebrate but also a time to reflect on the hardships many of our elders went through over the years. This settlement is intended to improve the lives of all our members, both today and into the future.”
“Our members selected settlement land in both British Columbia and Alberta, reflecting our connection to key cultural areas around our existing community at Doig River and Alááʔ saatǫ dȩ (Petersen’s Crossing) and into K’ih tsaa?dze Tribal Park," Chief Makadahay continued. “We recognized an urgent need to select land for protection when we started this process years ago, particularly given the extensive cumulative impacts in our territory.”
“Blueberry River identified TLE reserve land areas of interest in 2005 based on cultural, spiritual and traditional use values,” added Chief Desjarlais.
“The lands included in our settlement reflect the priorities and values identified by our membership. I just wish that the Blueberry leaders and Elders that have passed on since 2005, could be here to see the realization of their great vision.”