Ktunaxa Nation Hopeful They Can Secure a Full Treaty Alongside B.C. & Federal Governments

Ktunaxa Nation government building. (Credit: Columbia Basin Trust)

Now entering the final stage of negotiations, the local First Nation looks to establish legal constitutional authority.

The B.C. Government announced on Tuesday that they and the federal government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ktunaxa Nation, which is based in Cranbrook.

Ktunaxa Council Chair Kathryn Teneese says the MOU is a big deal for the community and is something they have been working on for several years.

"The parties are committed to commencing the next stage of the negotiations, in other words, negotiation of a final treaty without having to address the former stage of an Agreement In Principle and it's going to help us explore some options for recognition of the Ktunaxa Nation as a legal entity before a treaty is implemented."

Although she has given no firm timelines for when an eventual treaty might be signed, she believes it is a crucial component of reconciliation.

One of the main components it will seek to address is around land ownership and stewardship, which Teneese says is an important part of Ktunaxa culture. The treaty would also give the First Nation the ability to make laws of its own, similar to but different than a municipal government.

"There are some specific areas around culture and heritage that we obviously will want to deal with. There are going to be other areas that we will be looking at - what is our arrangement going to be with respect to the lawmaking authority that currently exists within Canada and British Columbia?"

She explains that a "core treaty" will deal with the constitutional relationship between the Ktunaxa and the provincial and federal governments, while many of the specific details will be worked out over a series of side agreements.

Going forward, each of the parties has their own internal work they need to sort out in addition to the collaborative negotiations.

Teneese says she believes a full treaty will be reached "sooner rather than later."

Audio: Kathryn Teneese, Council Chair, Ktunaxa Nation

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