The Tlowitsis Community Advisory Group (TCAG) joined Chief John Smith and Councillor John Smith for an emotional journey to Tlowitsis traditional territory. Most members on the trip were visiting Tlowitsis territory for the first time in their lives. The full-day voyage took TCAG members up Johnstone Strait, past Port Neville, and from Tlowitsis Island to Turnour Island, where the group stopped to visit Kalagwees, the site of our nation’s former winter village. Over eight hours on the water, TCAG members had a chance to see current Tlowitsis reserves, along with some of the vast lands currently under consideration as part of the Tlowitsis’ treaty negotiations with BC and Canada. The group was also thrilled to see a pod of orcas during their journey up Johnstone Strait, and a humpback whale on the return home. To view the photos from this special voyage, visit our photo gallery here
In its March 2019 Budget, Canada announced that it would forgive all past and current loans to First Nations for comprehensive claims and treaty negotiations. This welcome decision – which means that past loans will not be deducted from Tlowitsis’ land and cash treaty settlement as was past practice, is a critical element in the advancement of reconciliation, especially for First Nations in British Columbia.
Loans have been a large burden for First Nations that have concluded negotiations, have been an obstacle for those currently in negotiations and has been a huge barrier for First Nations wishing to enter into negotiations. The First Nations Summit has always maintained that First Nations should not have to borrow money from the very governments who wrongfully took all Indigenous lands in BC in the colonial era, without any notice, consent or agreement. Treaty negotiation debt has left First Nations at a significant financial and economic disadvantage. This debt has also had detrimental economic, social and political impacts on First Nations that have been working to resolve the outstanding land question in BC through treaty negotiations for decades.
For more information, visit the First Nations summit website. [link to http://fns.bc.ca/news/first-nations-summit-fully-welcomes-federal-budget-2019-confirmation-of-treaty-loan-forgiveness]