In the Network: Media Co-op Dominion   Locals: HalifaxMontrealTorontoVancouver

Support the VMC, donate today!

Advertisement

Tla'amin Treaty Vote, June 16th

A month of coverage on the upcoming Final Agreement

by Daniel Adaszynski

Tla'amin Nation will formally give up any land claims once the Final Agreement goes through, though they will be able to purchase lands as a legal entity.
Tla'amin Nation will formally give up any land claims once the Final Agreement goes through, though they will be able to purchase lands as a legal entity.

Also posted by Zyn:

Story Updated : June 20th

On the day of the vote (June 16th) about a dozen members opposing treaty blockaded the voting station. The story has since picked up coverage by the Globe & Mail, CBC Radio, and by the local newspaper; the Vancouver Sun is also considering covering the story.

A statement released by those protesting Treaty can be found here:
http://prpeak.com/media/pdf/news/2012/pressrelease061612.pdf

For the past month, Powell River's local community radio station (CJMP 90.1FM) has been airing the opinions and concerns of the upcoming Final Agreement regarding the Tla'amin (Sliammon, Coast Salish) People. This has been the work of the Saturday DJ Dan Zynski; the recordings can be found here:

http://cjmp.ca/podcast/index.php?cat=Sliammon%20Speaks

Ep.1 covers anti-treaty // Ep.2 covers pro-treaty // Ep.3 covers anti-treaty

We are currently negotiating to cover the vote itself on Sat. June 16th, broadcasting on the ground from the poll booths. If successful, listeners can tune in here : http://blog.cjmp.ca/listen-live/ from Noon - 5pm and call the studio at 604.485.0088 with questions as the day unfolds.

Our coverage leading up to this weekend has been somewhat haphazard; though many of our radio station's volunteers are well informed about colonialism and First Nations issues, and have tried to build connections with the Nation, Treaty wasn't at the front of our minds. Independently and as a board representative, I was hoping to encourage a few new radio programs run by Tla'amin members.

However, I soon realized a huge contingent of band members opposed to Treaty for various reasons had been virtually ignored by the media, and began covering the issue and learning about it from there. A myriad of reasons exist to support and oppose treaty - but I (and we) have decided we can show solidarity while not intruding on First Nation's self-determination by keeping a lens trained on the unfolding events.

Our current goal is to broadcast live the June 16th final voting day, a day where ballots are accepted in person and when most on-reserve band members are choosing to vote - to ensure their ballots aren't tampered with. We are hoping that the precedent of independent observers for any tense, historic vote will excuse our presence on the Reserve, as the Treaty Society is understandably concerned about our presence while the polls are open. We would use this opportunity to spot any intimidation and verify the number of voters in attendence - at the behest of those Tla'amin opposed to Treaty and expecting corruption.

------------------------------------------

Blood-line favouritism and violent threats have been at play; there are bitter divisions between family members. Half the homes on Reserve display "No to Treaty" signs, the other half say "Yes." An anti-treaty member's lawn stands conspicously scorched by fire - whether it is related or not we cannot say; rocks have been thrown through windows, and people from both sides have been caught tearing one anothers signs' down. As the final day comes closer, band members increasingly refuse to speak or even be seen with our reporter (the authour of this article) - or request to speak in private over the phone instead. [edit : This has since changed for the better.]

Accusations of corruption are mostly leveled at the band office, which hands out the money provided by the Federal Government; however, since many of the same people work towards Treaty or in the various services on Reserve - these charges of corruption are leveled across the band's entire local governing structure. University educated members and the youth tend to fall on pro-treaty side, while most elders and those in more severe poverty are opposed.

The Sliammon nation has accrued some ten million dollars of debt in negotiating treaty - much of this money goes towards paying wages to treaty workers, organizing events, travel expenses, boat tours, and other such things. Many opposed to Treaty see this as buying votes, or of certain families lining their pockets with future childrens money. Yet the settlement contains financial transfers that would cover this amassed debt, and the Treaty Society has taken great pains to audit itself by 3rd parties and host regular feedback & information sessions. In contrast, the Band Office, Chief, and Council, (which support treaty) has failed in its audits and been responsible for criminal misuse of funds - but because of clauses under the Indian Act, the responsible members could not be charged.

Reviewing the Treaty document, most band members agree that the land to be placed under Tla'amin governance is satisfactory and respectful of traditional territory and use, albeit foregoing some 95% of potential land claims. Clauses around resource-revenue sharing and taxation are also favorable, providing some 12 years for the First Nation to set up its laws and tax structure and then declare its own tax rates. Larger sums of money than INAC currently provides would be transferred to the Tla'ammin over the next 12 years - but without the same dictation on how it is spent.

The Treaty Society itself admits it has been a bitter challenge to acquire these rights, and that they wish they could have acquired more benefits. They feel the political climate in 'Canada' is changing for the worse, hence the Society's urgency to settle the agreement now.

--------------------------------

Our coverage has been unable to address whether the Treaty Document or legal documents it refers to contain clauses that would undermine Tla'amin self-government, remove social safety nets, or permit land sales and development without the peoples consent - these are the primary concerns of the anti-treaty camp.

For example, some chapters of the agreement allow Federal and Provincial law to take precedent in wildlife conservation or policing duties - but state Tla'amin law will take precedent over, say, mineral rights.

The legal language is challenging for us and it is hard to tell if it contains backdoor clauses; one suspicious clause states the Treaty Society can alter the Final Agreement for a six month period after the referendum has gone through and before the Tla'amin had elected or settled on the shape of its self-government. Is this a standard clause for minor legislative fixes? Or is it a way to alter the document to benefit a few at the expense of the many without legal repercussion? We do not know.

Finally, of the anti-treaty members that object on grounds of corruption (rather than refusing to negotiate with the settler government) many have voiced they would be satisfied if the Treaty vote was pushed back several months. This would allow time for the upcoming elections of Chief and Counsellors to come to pass, and decide the leadership such a transition would occur under.

The Treaty itself and its attached documents can be found here :
http://sliammontreaty.com/treaty/summary-of-final-agreement

Thank you for your time and attention,

I can be reached at : dan.zynski [at] gmail [dot] com

Daniel Adaszynski

------------------------------------------------

* [Edit] Previously stated that station volunteers were not trying to engage with the Tla'amin Nation. I was incorrect.

* [Edit] We cannot confirm that the scorched lawn was directly connected to treaty feuds so the language has been changed.

* [Edit] Covering opinions of treaty has mostly been the authour's perogitive - with support and advisement from the station, some language has been changed to better reflect this.

Free Lancer Dan Zynski

Catch the news as it breaks: follow the VMC on Twitter.
Join the Vancouver Media Co-op today. Click here to learn about the benefits of membership.

Comments

Whither Sovereignty in the Tla'amin Treaty? - by Bruce Clark

Whither Sovereignty?

The Tla'amin People are set to transfer their territorial sovereignty to the whole of their territory including the reserved parts while acquiring funding for lesser contractual rights of jurisdiction and possession that can be taken away by the new sovereign later.

The amendment clause, Chapter 25, Section 5 (c) stipulates that Tla'amin consent to an amendment shall be 'by a resolution adopted by a majority of elected members of Tla'amin Government.' The elective system has replaced the indigenous system of government.

The dispute resolution clause, Chapter 26, Section 37, stipulates that 'a Party may commence proceedings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia with respect to a Disagreement.' The newcomer system of justice has replaced the indigenous system of justice.

The need for an agreement at all is because the newcomer system of justice has not upheld the previously established constitutional territorial sovereignty of the Indigenous Indian Peoples. There is no reason to assume this agreement will make those courts or the legal profession more honest.

Therefore I would recommend not signing until the existing legitimate and outstanding constitutional question of tribal territorial sovereignty honestly has been addressed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

As for how to frame the issue, see  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Allan_Clark_ (lawyer)  and the website  http://mightisnotright.org/ And ask for help!

Treaties are assimilation

The BC treaty process is based on the legal, political and economic assimilation of Native peoples into the Canadian colonial system.  It has always been the long-term goal of Canada to assimialte Natives.  The Indian Act of 1876 was designed as an intermediate measure to train Natives for "self-government" and was never intended to be a permanent set of apartheid laws.  Through the years the government has devised and attempted various means of assimilation, such as the 1970 "white paper" that called for abolishing the Indian Act, status, and reserves.  The BC treaty process is one of these means that at the same time provides economic certainty to corporations by ending the legal question around sovereign Native lands for which virtually no treaties were made in the colonization of the province (with the exception of the Douglas Treaties on Vancouver Island and parts of Treaty No. 8 in the north-east section of 'BC').

There is some background info against the treaty process here:

http://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/this-land-is-not-for-sale/

Most Recent Meeting

Thanks to commenters and mailers for your information and attention;

We held another meeting with anti-treaty members yesterday and were able to bring that info forward.

Members discussed the visitors who came up from Tsawwassen (doing this with their own money, in contrast to to pro-treaty speakers, who have had their trips and expenses paid for by the Society.)

According to the Tsawwassen visitors, Treaty has left a deep sadness within the band; their chief and council have exercised arbitrary authority over their people and not fulfilled their promises.

'Another Way' also came up, the piece by piece battles of the Haida - and how Sliammon residents against treaty feel that this is a much more patient, thourough and encompassing way to have their rights realized than the omnibus legislation that is the Treaty Document.

It was also pointed out that there are Federal and Provincial laws the Treaty Society may use to keep me away from the polling stations Saturday - laws about reporting during elections and votes. Whether or not it applies to the Tla'amin nation I'm unsure, but it seems like the most respectful thing would be to observe on Saturday rather than record and report.

At any rate, I do have more recordings to air and they will be posted to our website.

Thank you for your help!

Danzyn! great seeing your

Danzyn! great seeing your work on media co-op and hope to see more. 

Zach

Creative Commons license icon

VMC Email

Receive occasional email notices from the VMC:

User login

Advertisement