Idea #8: Reboot the Treaty Process

Idea #8: Reboot the Treaty Process
by: Andrew MacLeod

The provincial government made much fanfare over signing treaties with the Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth First Nations in recent months, but University of Victoria indigenous governance professor Taiaiake Alfred says they are the last two "surrender for money" treaties the province is likely to see.

Following the B.C. Supreme Court's November decision that found the Tsilhqot'in hold Aboriginal title to some 200,000 hectares of their traditional territory, Alfred says there's a growing consensus the treaty process needs to be completely restructured before it makes sense for most First Nations to continue with it or join it.

"In practical terms, it means the treaty process is going to have to stop," he says. There's little point talking with the government nation by nation. "I would redesign it. I would have a treaty conference instead. You come up with a new framework and a new draft of a unified treaty."

The conference should be held in public so the process and arguments are transparent and open, he adds. If everyone knew the arguments, he says, "I'm certain the public would be supporting the natives."

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