Handshake

Two Tsimshian First Nations are making progess toward land claims treaties

IN THE complicated business of negotiating land claims it’s called a “handshake agreement,” the moment when negotiators for the federal and provincial governments and First Nations decide they have a document which could lead to an agreement in principle.

By all accounts, handshake agreements between the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas and the federal and provincial governments are very close, perhaps within a matter of weeks or even days.

Once that happens the proposed agreements will then be released. To become official, the agreements  must first be ratified by the Kitselas and Kitsumkalum and then by the federal and provincial governments.

It all sounds very dry and technical but an agreement in principle contains all the essential elements and details that will go into a final treaty. Very little is likely to change.

The release of the agreements will reveal a glimpse into the economic, social, political and cultural future of Kitselas and Kitsumkalum. Some of the details may make people nervous. Yet the key from treaties is certainty and a solid base upon which foundations for success can be built.

What’s important for us all is that if the treaties set a path for the Kitsleas and Kitsumkalum, they also set a path for Terrace, Thornhill and the rural area. That handshake about to happen represents one between neighbours as much as it does between negotiators and lawyers.