Lheidli T'enneh First Nation votes no to treaty

With 137 votes for and 185 against the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation for the second time, declined the treaty with B.C. and Canada.

The Lheidli T'eneh constitution which would have taken the First Nation out of the Indian Act to create its own government under the treaty was defeated 175 to 147 votes.

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The approved treaty would have provided $37.1 million in a lump sum as well as resource revenue sharing, annual operational funding and $16.7 million to facilitate the treaty.

The approved treaty would have also provided 4,330 hectares of land owned by the First Nation.

Aboriginal rights to gather, hunt and fish will continue within the 43,000 kilometres traditional territory.

Since 1993 the treaty has been under negotiation and the first version was defeated in March 2007, according to a recent news release.

"Of course it is disappointing, but the people have spoken and we must honour their wishes," Dominic Frederick, chief of Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, said.

"I would like to thank the federal and provincial negotiating teams for their hard work and support. They always negotiated in total good faith and couldn't have done anything more to get a fair agreement. This decision is entirely Lheidli T'enneh's choice. We must now try and move forward with the limited resources and opportunities available while we remain under the Indian Act. Regardless of this outcome, we are here to stay."

In a statement, B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser said the province respected the outcome of the vote, and would continue working with Lheidli T'enneh. 

"There is no single path to reconciliation. We will continue to work government to government with Lheidli T'enneh on long-term reconciliation and self-determination in ways that work for their community," Fraser said.

"We are committed to a relationship with Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, and all Indigenous peoples, based on respect and recognition and guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, and case law. This is a unique time in the history of Canada."

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