Accord reached between Tseshaht and Maa-nulth

By Debora Steel, March 29, 2011
Port Alberni — 

An eleventh-hour agreement will allow Tseshaht to be able to stand in celebration with the Maa-nulth Nations this weekend as they celebrate the implementation of the first multi-nation treaty to be struck within the BC treaty process.

On March 30, Tseshaht and the five Maa-nulth nations—Huu-ay-aht, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht, Yuułu-ʔił-ʔath and Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h’—will sign an accord that recognizes Tseshaht ha’huuthli in the Barclay Sound.

Since the Maa-nulth Final Agreement was initialed in 2006, there has been a dispute over some of the lands that were carved out for inclusion in the treaty. There was even an attempt by Tseshaht, through the BC court system, to slow the treaty to allow for the land concerns to be sorted out.

But a mediated response has proven more successful, with historic Nuu-chah-nulth laws, traditions and protocols relied upon to overcome differences.

There has always been a strong desire to ensure all Nuu-chah-nulth Nations maintain good working relationships and unity, reads a press release. The agreement honours common kinship ties in ways that respects the hahuuthli (traditional territory) of all of the Barclay Sound tribes.

 "The signing of the Accord signifies recognition of Tseshaht hahuuthli,” said Tseshaht Chief Councillor Les Sam. “We can now stand next to our Maa-nulth relatives as they celebrate their treaty," which will be officially implemented on April 1.
“We are pleased to have achieved this accord with Tseshaht in advance of the effective date of our treaty, said Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes.  “Through the accord, the Uchucklesaht Tribe and the Tseshaht First Nation have agreed to recognize and respect each other’s rights and title in Barclay Sound.”

Tseshaht community members met Saturday to ratify the accord’s wording, which was developed between Tseshaht and the Maa-nulth nations since Feb. 24 through a mediated process facilitated by the BC Treaty Commission. The accord demonstrates that aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights can coexist.

The accord will provide greater political and economic certainty in the region that will benefit all of the Maa-nulth and Tseshaht peoples, said Sam in a call to Ha-Shilth-Sa after that meeting. He said there are processes within the accord that will be relied upon to work through any land disputes that arise going forward after implementation.

The accord will be signed on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the great room of the Tseshaht administrative building. The Maa-nulth Treaty will be celebrated on Saturday in the gym at the Alberni District Secondary School beginning at 11 a.m.