1940 Aerial View of Campbell River
The Six Stages
The BC Treaty Commission’s Treaty negotiation process consists of six stages.
The Wei Wai Kum Kwiakah Treaty Society is currently in Stage 5 – Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty.
Stage 5 is an essential step for our Nations. This provides WKTS with opportunities to negotiate substantive topics, such as a land package, fishing rights and access, and our Nations’ financial relationship with Canada. Once these negotiations are complete, our citizens will vote on the full treaty package.
Statement of Intent to Negotiate - 1993
In 1993, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah entered negotiations in collaboration with other Laich Kwil Tach and Kwakwaka’wakw communities.
Readiness to Negotiate - 1997
The BC Treaty Commission declared the Kwakiutl Laich Kwil Tach Nations table ready to negotiate a framework agreement.
Negotiation of a Framework Agreement - 1998
Laich-Kwil-Tach and Kwakwaka’wakw Nations agree with B.C. and Canada on the subjects to be negotiated and an estimated time frame for the Stage 4 Agreement-in-Principle negotiations.
Negotiation of an Agreement in Principle - 1998–2015
Substantive treaty negotiations start. The parties outlined their requirements in the Framework Agreement. Members voted in favour of accepting their Final Agreement.
In 2014, treaty society membership changed. Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah formed the Wei Wai Kum Kwiakah Treaty Society and negotiate as two Nations.
Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty [Current Stage] - 2019
On June 28 2019, the two Nations transitioned to Stage 5 and negotiated to resolve technical and legal issues. At the end of this stage constitutions and modern treaties will be presented to citizens of Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah Nations for a vote.
Implementation of the Treaty
If the WKTS citizens vote ‘Yes’ for the Treaty, the plans to implement the treaty will be implemented.
15 LKT and Kwakwaka’wakw Nations enter Treaty Process. Complete Stage 1
Kwakiutl–Laich–Kwil–Tach Nations Treaty Society (KLNTS); declared “Ready” for Negotiations. Complete Stage 2
Complete Stage 3 and enter Stage 4
Laich–Kwil–Tach K’omoks Tlowitsis Treaty Society begins (Tlowitsis, Mamalilikulla, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah, & K’omoks)
Hamatla Treaty Society begins (Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah, & K’omoks)
Hamatla Treaty Society (We Wai Kai,
Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah, & K’omoks)
Hamatla Treaty Society (We Wai Kai,
Wei Wai Kum, & Kwiakah)
Laich–Kwil–Tach Treaty Society begins (We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, & Kwiakah)
Wei Wai Kum–Kwiakah Treaty Society begins (Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah)
Judicial Review Incremental Treaty Agreement
Signed the Wei Wai Kum First Nation/Kwiakah First Nation Transition to Stage 5 and Treaty Revitalization Agreement
Statement of Intent Map
Our traditional territory has been connected to our people since time immemorial. Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have the right to exercise our aboriginal rights in our territory.
As part of the BC Treaty Process, the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations have established a shared Statement of Intent (SOI) boundary. Within this SOI boundary, both Nations are developing land selections for Treaty Settlement Lands and private land purchases.
B.C. and Canada use these maps for consultative purposes when developing potential opportunities for the area.
Treaty Related Measures (TRMs) are interim measures related to treaty topics under negotiation.
TRMs were designed to help meet the needs of and address First Nations’ concerns during ongoing treaty negotiations. TRM projects are funded by the Canadian government.
Over the years, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah have participated in several TRM projects. TRMs provide Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah members with modern development tools to build solid and working relationships with federal, provincial and local governments. It also brings long-standing social and economic benefits and opportunities for the future.
This stage supports the development of a WKTS-specific Constitution. This work is also necessary to strengthen First Nations governance and leads the way towards treaty negotiations.
This project provided strategic direction and an implementation plan for WKTS to build human resources capacity in preparation for governance post-treaty.
The A-Tlegay Fisheries Society provided WKTS fish monitoring, licenses, species surveys and other fisheries activities. In addition, it offered training to increase community capacity.
This project helped define the availability of water reservations within or adjacent to Nations' Treaty Settlement Lands, including water reservations for Kwiakah's domestic, commercial and community expansion needs.
Kwiakah First Nation was looking for the most suitable solutions to operate their reserves for the benefit of Kwiakah members. This project for Kwiakah decided which portion of Crown land surrounding the IR#6 Saaiyouck should form part of the Treaty Settlement Lands selection.
This project is in development. In 2018, the Water/LiDAR assignment began Phase one of three possible phases of LiDAR to build a scalable model for understanding the watersheds and developing the water chapter. Phase two focused on creating a highly accurate, watershed-wide geospatial data set.
This project investigated the potential business and other uses of proposed ITA lands for Wei Wai Kum. The project also explored whether any cultural or historical sites may be impacted by future development.
WKTS videos were created to highlight treaty objectives and enhance communication with members through a different format.
The assignment gave WKTS a key tool for good governance land, supporting selection and protective measures agreement. Therefore, achieving a collaborative land project was an important step, leading to a formal land and cash offer from B.C. and Canada.
The project sought to develop habitat mapping, water flows, the identification of potential archaeology sites and resource management.
The assignment contributes to investigating governance structures used by self-governing Nations. The post-treaty options will be developed for Wei Wai Kum and Kwaikah and suit their genuine needs.
Each Nation has undertaken a multi-year project to fund lands administration positions to advance territorial natural resource management.
The Treaty Team meet monthly for Internal Treaty Meetings which inform the tripartite Main Table Meetings with WKTS, BC and Canada. At Main Table meetings, discussions revolve around Nations’ priorities within each Treaty chapter. At the Main Table, we speak to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Provincial decision-makers to ensure they hear WKTS negotiation positions and concerns directly. Treaty Negotiations remain an iterative process, supported through various Working Groups and informed through community engagement sessions.
Main Table Treaty meetings occur for a full day on a monthly basis, with the Wei Wai Kum Kwiakah Treaty Team, Canada and BC Negotiators and the BCTC Commissioner. Negotiations are based on Stage 5 objectives and issues that need to be resolved in moving WKTS forward towards a Treaty Agreement.
Internal Treaty Meetings occur regularly and prior to Main Table negotiations. The Treaty Team uses these meetings to discuss a range of topics important to negotiations and strategize on relevant objectives and timelines for Main Table discussions. The WKTS Team also at this time ensures that the community's priorities are understood and incorporated in all talks with BC and Canada.
The Treaty Chapter Working Group has a mandate from the Main Table to develop key content for the Treaty chapters which make up the Treaty Agreement that the membership will vote upon. This work is shared between Canada, BC and WKTS. Chapters include Harvesting Rights, Resource Management, Governance, etc. The basis of the Chapter content is from: the Chapter Priorities which are developed by the Internal Treaty Team strategy sessions; information obtained through Community engagement; Learnings from other self-governing treaty nations; and topics addressed at Leadership meetings such as the First Nation Summitt and Assembly of First Nations.
Both Kwiakah and Wei Wai Kum have independent working groups to narrow in on the selection of Treaty Settlement Lands and other areas of interest.
Community Engagement is ongoing and integral for the WKTS team. Through community engagement, the treaty team understands the needs of Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah Nations, educates members about modern treaties and updates the communities on the status of negotiations.
Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah are advancing recognition of their ownership and rights to their lands, waters and resources through Reconciliation Agreements.
The Treaty Team is engaged with various Reconciliation Tables developed over time alongside the Treaty Main Table. WKTS intends to establish more Reconciliation Tables if necessary to negotiate specific areas outside of a treaty and may include other Nations with common jurisdictions or interests.
Five Nation Fish Common Table
Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai, Kwiakah, Tlowitsis, K’omoks
The 5 A- Tlegay Nations have joined together to negotiate a Fish Reconciliation Agreement with Canada. All Nations are participating in treaty negotiations and the results of this agreement will be referenced in a Treaty Agreement. We are using what other nation groups such as the Coastal First Nations have negotiated as a guideline to the benefits we hope to achieve in this process. The areas under negotiation are access to commercial licenses and aquaculture; management and conservation of fish stocks and governance over the resource.
February 10 2021 – The Chiefs of the A-Tlegay Member Nations (We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Kwiakah First Nation, Tlowitsis Nation, and K’ómoks First Nation) and Canada, announced the signing of the “Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Fisheries Resources.” The Framework Agreement forms a common fisheries negotiation table between the Government of Canada and the A-Tlegay Member Nations (AMN). Through this agreement the parties are building a process that advances reconciliation in respect of fisheries resources. The goal is to expand the Nations’ access to the commercial industry, including aquaculture, develop community fisheries, and create a mechanism for collaborative governance of fisheries resources.
The modern treaty negotiations process provides a framework for the three parties: Canada, B.C. and First Nations – to work towards the common goal of reconciliation and building a new relationship on a government-to-government-to-government basis that will improve the lives of the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah members long term.
Self-governance will replace the Indian Act and strive to provide better opportunities for Indigenous people living within their traditional territory while not excluding those who choose to live elsewhere.
Why Self Governance?
It gives us the right to make laws, similar to the laws that provinces are able to make. It also means we will create our own government that is designed by our Nations and approved by us. With self-governance, Nations will have more freedom to choose and control our Treaty Settlement lands and resources. Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah will establish constitutions that will guide self government.
The Treaty will also bring increased opportunities and ownership, improved services and control over our future and education.
Incremental Treaty Agreements (ITA)
An ITA is a legally-binding pre-treaty agreement negotiated under the B.C. Treaty Process, between British Columbia and the Wei Wai Kum or Kwiakah First Nations. ITAs are a treaty incentive to enable Nations to achieve economic benefits while negotiating a treaty agreement. Any lands acquired through an ITA remain under the Nation’s ownership regardless if a treaty is ever reached. It creates a significant, positive milestone of negotiations that assist the Nation in building capacity and resources.
Wei Wai Kum ITA
On August 11, 2022, Wei Wai Kum finalized an ITA for a near 2300 hectare land transfer in the Campbell Lake region. Lands transferred under the ITA will help increase Wei Wai Kum’s participation in the forestry industry for economic purposes and give its citizens access to lands for cultural and harvesting activities.
Kwiakah recently finalized the transfer of two 800-hectare woodlots in the Estero Basin. The Nation is also seeking an ITA for community growth in the Campbell River area.
Negotiations take time, political will and tenacity among the four governments (Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah, B.C and Canada). However, significant developments have been made in recent years, and Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah are now in Stage 5 of the BC Treaty Process.
Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations and the governments of Canada and British Columbia signed a Stage 5 Agreement on June 28, 2019, to advance reconciliation and treaty negotiations. The agreement brings treaty negotiations to the final stage and guides the development of an approach recognizing the rights of Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations.
Treaty Advancements – Loan Forgiveness
In March 2019, Canada announced that all loans occured by Nations since the beginning of treaty negotiations will be forgiven and paid off by Canada. This was a huge step for the treaty negotiations process. Currently, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah don’t have any outstanding loans and will not incur any additional debt through the treaty process.
Treaty Settlement Lands
Treaty Settlement Lands (TSL)
Treaty Settlement Lands or TSL are lands that will be returned to our Nations after the treaty effective date. TSL is important to our Nations because we will have full jurisdiction and law making authority over these lands. Identifying potential TSLs for negotiations is an important step. Land is selected based on various traditional, cultural, economic, community development and recreational opportunities and values.
TSL will include:
- Current reserve lands
- Lands we negotiate through treaty
- Incremental Treaty Agreement lands
Treaty Agreement – Under Development
This is Stage 6 of the Treaty Process and the final objective of the Treaty Society. Nations that have concluded a Final Treaty Agreement in BC include Tsawwassen, Maa-nulth, and Tla’amin. The Treaty Team, provincial and federal Negotiators, consider the lessons learned and opportunities realized in these modern treaties. WKTS Leadership and Advisors continue to assert the Treaty Society’s position based on the interests and aspirations of the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations – The principle we’re operating on is that treaty has to be better than what we would otherwise achieve. It has to be about raising the bar.
The Treaty Journey So Far
Treaty is one tool amongst many that the Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah Nations use or consider when advancing our interests. Land Code, Taxation, Referral Consultation and Specific Claims are additional tools working alongside treaty negotiations to assert self-governance and rights jurisdiction.
Wei Wai Kum's Land Code (ratified in 2011) enables all owner's rights, powers, and privileges over reserve lands. Lands and natural resources previously managed under the Indian Act are now governed under the Wei Wai Kum Land Code. This power extends to administrative and land management's governance and jurisdictional elements. Exercising jurisdiction is similar to:
- Local government powers over areas like land-use planning, conservation and economic development on reserve lands
- Federal authorities such as laws under the developed opportunities and areas of interests.
Did you know?
Kwiakah is currently exploring developing a Land Code and is working alongside the Lands Advisory Board Resource Centre.
The First Nations Fiscal Management Act (ratified in 2011) corresponds to the Financial Administration Law signed in 2019. By passing property taxation, Wei Wai Kum has jurisdiction over reserve land. Property taxation jurisdiction is a fundamental pillar of financing government and future economic growth. Real property taxation provides Wei Wai Kum with an independent, stable and flexible source of revenue, which can be reinvested to improve services, respond to priorities, and address shortcomings in economic infrastructure.
Wei Wai Kum First Nation enacted a Property Taxation and Property Assessment bylaw in 2003. The Band collects property taxes from the commercial properties located on Campbell River Indian Reserve #11 (E.g. Home Depot, Walmart, Nyrstar, Telus etc.).
Did you know?
Tax revenue is used to pay for the services the Nation provides to its commercial tenants (e.g fire protection, utility infrastructure, etc.). In addition, these revenues also support programs and services offered to the Wei Wai Kum community (e.g. Elders Program, infrastructure upgrades, youth programs).
Wei Wai Kum was signed to the Nanwakola's Council Strategic Engagement Agreement. First Nations participating in the Nanwakolas Referrals Office include Mamalilikulla First Nation, Da'naxda'xw Awaetlala First Nation, Tlowitsis First Nation, K’ómoks First Nation and Wei Wai Kum Nation.
Did you know?
The Province of BC is legally obligated to consult and accommodate Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah, where required, on land and resource decisions that could impact our interests within our territory. We review referrals from many different proponents annually, ensuring that no infringements on our rights and title occur, our historical sites are protected, and we are appropriately accommodated for any impacts. This important work ties directly with the treaty team in their mandate to preserve and have input over what happens in the territory.
Wei Wai Kum
Wei Wai Kum is a signatory to the Nanwakolas Council Strategic Engagement Agreement.
Nanwakolas mandate is to protect and advocate for the recognition of the Aboriginal rights by
- Ensuring First Nations are aware of all resource development activities proposed or ongoing within their traditional territories
- Promoting relevant answers to provincial resource development referrals where is included the First Nation interests regarding the opportunities
- Facilitating the resolution of issues raised by a participating First Nations
Other referrals, including federal referrals, are addressed directly through WKTS.
Kwiakah has chosen to work independently with referrals and in 2016 withdrew from the Nanwakolas Nation Council Strategic Engagement Agreement. Kwiakah has a robust internal referral process to ensure its aboriginal rights are protected in their traditional territory and development issues are raised and communicated with the supporter through the respective governments.
Wei Wai Kum has identified the resolution of Wei Wai Kum's Specific Claims as a priority and an important step towards reconciliation with Canada. As a starting point, over the last several decades the community held knowledge and preliminary historical research that has led to the identification of several potential Specific Claims. Wei Wai Kum is researching, for example, the unlawful surrender of reserve lands, various rights-of-way through reserve lands, leases of reserve lands and the issuance of multiple permits on reserve lands.
Wei Wai Kum is currently undertaking the updating of this historical research to inform the preparation of Specific Claims for submission to Canada. Once the claim is filed with the Minister, the Minister has three years to assess it following the assessment criteria and the grounds for establishing a specific claim.