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For Immediate Release

2005ARR0010-000750

Aug. 22, 2005

Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

Yekooche First Nation

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

 

CANADA, B.C. AND YEKOOCHE SIGN AGREEMENT-IN-PRINCIPLE

 


YEKOOCHE – Federal and provincial government officials and representatives joined Chief Allan Joseph of the Yekooche First Nation to sign an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) today. The AIP will form the basis for the negotiation of a legally binding treaty.

 

            “The completion of the Agreement-in-Principle shows strong leadership and community support that demonstrates a deep commitment to greater self-reliance in the future,” said the Honourable Sue Barnes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. “Today marks a major step towards a treaty that will benefit Yekooche and its neighbours by helping to create an environment of certainty.”

 

Yekooche entered the treaty process in 1995. A land and cash proposal made to the Yekooche First Nation last February was ratified by the community members with substantial community support on March 23, 2005. At the end of April, chief negotiators for each party initialled the AIP.

 

            “The signing of this agreement sets a foundation for economic certainty and prosperity for the Yekooche First Nation,” said Tom Christensen, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “Today we stand together and celebrate a historical event for the community and commit to work towards a modern day treaty that will materially improve the lives of Aboriginal people and British Columbians in the region for generations to come.”

                       

            The Yekooche First Nation is a remote community located 70 km northwest of Fort St. James in north central B.C. and accessible only by gravel road. Yekooche is part of the Carrier linguistic group and has a total population of approximately 200 members, 145 of whom live on reserve.

           

            “The AIP is not the end of the treaty process,” said Joseph. “It is another beginning and Yekooche looks forward to negotiating the Final Agreement and continuing to partner and forge stronger links with Canada and B.C.”

 

            The land component in the AIP includes approximately 5,960 hectares of provincial Crown land, in addition to Yekooche’s current Indian reserves of about 379.8 hectares. Yekooche’s four reserves straddle the area from the south shore of Stuart Lake to the east and south shores of Cunningham Lake, and the east end of Babine Lake. The federal government’s proposed cash settlement to the Yekooche First Nation is valued at $6.5 million.


 

            This agreement establishes the framework for the next stage of the negotiations, which will result in a Final Agreement. It sets out the commitments and conditions negotiated by the three parties, including provisions on land, capital transfer, resource management, culture and governance.

 

            An AIP is the fourth step in the six-stage treaty negotiation process under the B.C. Treaty Commission. This is the fifth AIP signed in British Columbia since July 2003.

 

            For more information, visit www.prov.gov.bc.ca/arr/, www.ainc-inac.gc.ca or www.yekoochenativeart.com online.

 

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 1 backgrounder(s) attached.

 

 

Media

contact:

Karen Williams

Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

250 356-0330

250-360-7538 (cell)

 

Dean Joseph

Yekooche First Nation

250 562-0592

250 612-9202 (cell)

 

 

Catherine Blackstock

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

604 775-7392

604 290-7395 (cell)

 

Visit the Province's website at www.gov.bc.ca for online information and services.