Many of the words used in a Treaty have meanings that could be understood differently by different people. It is important that the meaning of words used in the Gitga’at Treaty be clear and consistently understood by whoever reads the Treaty in years to come.
For example, the word Consult (or Consultation) has a very specific meaning, and is used regularly through the Treaty. In everyday language, to Consult means to ask for advice. In the Treaty, the word has been defined to address the way communication occurs, including timelines and who to communicate with. Like the Treaty itself, it is important that the definitions we use in the Treaty represent the way in which these words are understood by all three Parties, Gitga’at, BC, and Canada.
The General Provisions chapter outlines laws that apply to the entire Treaty to tie all the Chapters together. The General Provisions Chapters is a bit like the frame of a house, and the chapters are the walls, furniture, and appliances. Without the frame, the components of the house are just a collection of stuff. As with a Treaty, without the General Provisions Chapter, the other chapters would be disconnected from each other.
For example, this chapter describes how the entire Treaty is legally protected by the Canadian Constitution, that the Indian Act will no longer apply if a Treaty is signed, and that the Treaty is a full and final settlement of Gitga’at Aboriginal Rights. Without the General Provisions chapter, every chapter in the Treaty would have to make these same statements. In Treaty, the General Provisions chapter is a bit like the glue that holds a book together. Just as with a book, without the glue and binding to hold the pages together, without the General Provisions chapter holding the Treaty together by providing guiding principles, the Treaty becomes a collection of chapters disconnected from each other.