CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. — The Wei Wai Kum First Nation and the Province of B.C. have inked an Incremental Treaty Agreement (ITA) that will transfer 2,276 hectares of territorial lands back to Wei Wai Kum.
Officials say the move will help boost the nation’s economic activities.
According to the province, lands transferred under the ITA will help increase Wei Wai Kum First Nation’s participation in the forest industry for economic purposes and give its citizens access to lands for cultural and harvesting activities.
“Crown lands were carefully selected to balance support for Wei Wai Kum’s interests and maintenance of public access to popular recreation sites such as Loveland Bay Provincial Park and areas required for BC Timber Sales operations,” said the province in a press release.
The province added the agreement demonstrates the commitment of Wei Wai Kum and the province, along with the federal government, to the treaty process – a critically important pathway to meaningful reconciliation.
The province, federal government and Wei Wai Kum are currently in the final phases of treaty negotiations, and the lands transferred under the ITA are an early benefit as the final treaty is negotiated.
Officials noted the tripartite treaty negotiations have been underway since 1997, with ITA discussions between the nation and B.C. regarding this specific land parcel ongoing since 2019.
The province stated the agreement was possible thanks to the long-term support and significant effort of neighbouring First Nations. The ITA lands are within territories shared with Kwiakah and We Wai Kai (We Wai Kai Treaty Society). These three Laich-Kwil Tach Nations have been working with and supporting each other.
“This agreement and transfer of land back to our nation is a significant milestone in the treaty negotiations process and ongoing journey of reconciliation,” said Chris Roberts, Chief of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation. “It’s a strong sign of good faith from government on their commitment to supporting First Nations in reclaiming our lands and resources and restoring our positions as the beneficiaries from the values and gifts of our lands and those responsible for their enduring stewardship and sustainability.”