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Self-governance and the B.C. Blueberry First Nations agreement – webinar

Author(s): Richard J. King, Ankita Gupta

Jan 31, 2023

Possible national ramifications of the recent implementation agreement between the B.C. government and Blueberry First Nations, along with the current state of First Nations self-government agreements, were the feature topics during the January Indigenous Law Insights webinar, hosted by Richard King and Ankita Gupta.

The implementation agreement flows from the B.C. Supreme Court 2021 decision in  Yahey v. British Columbia which held that the cumulative effects of industrial development within the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nations amounted to an infringement of their rights under Treaty 8. The agreement covers such areas as wildlife management, land use planning, restoration and honouring the treaty. The cumulative effects court decision has already led to similar claims by First Nations in Alberta and Ontario, and it is anticipated the B.C. implementation agreement may pave the way for further claims.

Currently, most First Nations are governed under the Indian Act which provides for a limited form of self-governance whereby chiefs and councils can be elected to make decisions or pass by-laws in certain limited areas. Under self-government, First Nations move out from under the Indian Act towards self-determination. Self-governing First Nations can make their own laws and policies and have decision-making power in a broad range of matters, including matters internal to their communities and integral to their culture and traditions. Approximately 25 self-government agreements are now in place in Canada.

Watch the full webinar