Che:k'tles7et'h' Tyee Ha'wilth Francis Gillete and Ka:'yu:'k't'h' Tyee Ha'wilth Christina Cox sign the laws that will govern their citizens under the Maa-nulth Final Agreement. Effective Date was midnight on April 1. Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' celebrated by burning pages of the Indian Act.
Photo by Denise Titian
Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' celebrated in Houpsitas (Kyuquot) March 31 and April 1 as the nations’ new governance system under treaty came into effect.
Laws developed by the community that will serve as the foundation of self-government were signed at midnight, after which community members burned pages of the Indian Act, the legislation that the Maa-nulth Final Agreement now replaces.
“On Nuu-waas-sus (Our Day) we look forward to meeting the challenges of self-government with both fear and excitement,” said Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' Legislative Chief Therese Smith. “Our treaty has fast-tracked our path to independence and self-reliance in the aftermath of the residential school era and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). We no longer look to or are controlled by INAC. We are now fully accountable to ourselves for our own destiny.”
Also at midnight the Uchucklesaht Tribe legislature met for the first time in a ceremony that gathered their people in celebration of the Maa-nulth agreement at Port Alberni.
“Our nations have waited a long time for this historic day and it has arrived,” said Uchucklesaht Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes.
“Our exciting journey into re-introducing and exercising our inherent right to own our way of government for the people and accountability to our people is a refreshing and welcoming reality that we have strived for.”
Fireworks exploded over the treaty settlement lands in Hitattsoo as Ucluelet President Chuck McCarthy signed in that nation’s laws. Celebrations also occurred in Anacla, and Toquaht, each nation commemorating effective date of the Maa-nulth Treaty.
It is the first modern treaty on Vancouver Island and the second treaty negotiated under the British Columbia Treaty Commission process.
“Effective today, the First Nations of the Maa-nulth Treaty become self-governing nations with the social and economic tools to directly support their families and communities,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
“I congratulate the members of the Huu-ay-aht, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Uclulet Nations. Each of these Nations have their own unique history and culture, yet they chose to come together to achieve this treaty.”
The treaty provides the First Nations of the Maa-nulth Final Agreement with payments, settlements and other funds to help build their future. These include a capital transfer of $73.1 million (in 2006 dollars) and 24,550 hectares of treaty settlement land.
Citizens and leadership of the five First Nations will gather in Port Alberni on April 2 to jointly celebrate the historic achievement of treaty effective date. Minister Polak will be joining the celebrations along with representatives of other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations and First Nations in British Columbia, including Nisga’a and Tsawwassen nations whose modern-day treaties are already in effect in B.C.