The Gitga’at Treaty will change a lot from the old, Indian Act government, and these changes must be considered carefully. While the Canadian government made the rules about who is an Indian, the Gitga’at First Nation will define who is a Treaty member. These changes will be guided by procedures set out in the Treaty, making sure that Gitga’at First Nation, Canada, and BC act in an open and fair way while these changes take place. Some of these changes will take place early only, such as determining who is a Gitga’at member, how to approve the AIP and the ratification process (A formal way of approving the agreement) for the Gitga’at Treaty, and how the relationships between Gitga’at, Canada and BC will change in moving from life under the Indian Act system to life after Treaty. Dispute resolution is another procedural chapter and guides how disagreements or conflicts in interpreting or implementing the Treaty will be worked through together.
Eligibility and Enrolment
Just as there are rules about who is an Indian under the Indian Act, there will be rules about who may become a member or treaty beneficiary under the Treaty. The Canadian government made the rules about who is an Indian, but in the Treaty, the Gitga’at First Nation will be able to make these rules rather than the Canadian Government. There are a number of ways to consider the question of who will benefit from the treaty as a Gitga’at person. The Eligibility and Enrolment chapter will describe how a person will be determined to be Gitga’at, and various processes for making sure that all those who should be enrolled (rather than registered as happens under the Indian Act) are enrolled and what happens if someone gets missed or feels they should have been enrolled but weren’t.
In order to approve or reject the Treaty after the negotiations are completed, at least 50% plus 1 (person) of the people eligible to vote must vote in favor of the Treaty. Between now and that day there will be plenty of time for Gitga’at First Nation members to consider their choice. The Ratification chapter outlines the procedures for this vote. If Gitga’at members approve the Treaty, British Columbia and Canada will then have to ratify the treaty by passing it in their elected government bodies – the legislative assembly and parliament.
The implementation chapter outlines the process for making the transition from being an Indian Act government to a self-governing First Nation under Treaty. This chapter will guide the activities that will be necessary to be ready for us to form a government, make a number of laws, and make a number of decisions related to land and resource planning and management. In order to make sure that this process is followed and that all three governments are ready for the day the Treaty comes into effect, the rules set out in this chapter will be monitored by committees with members from Gitga’at First Nation, Canada and British Columbia.
Sometimes, there are disputes that arise between the Gitga’at First Nation and other governments or bodies about the meaning of some parts of the Treaty. If the dispute isn’t easily resolved, it will find its way to a process called dispute resolution. The dispute resolution chapter defines how a dispute will be fairly and predictably resolved.
The Dispute resolution process advances in 4 stages. For the 1st stage, the parties will begin by trying to resolve the dispute informally. If the issue is not resolved, they will advance to the 2nd stage, and try to formally negotiate a resolution. If that doesn’t work, then a neutral person or group will be selected to facilitate and resolve the issue in the 3rd stage. Finally, for the 4th stage, if the issue is still unresolved, a judge will decide on the best resolution, which is known as arbitration.
The Indian Act determined how we could manage the wills and estates of Gitga’at members, the assets of the Gitga’at First Nation, and the community bylaws. This chapter outlines how the wills, estates, and assets, of the Gitga’at First Nation and its people will be transferred to our treaty government. This chapter also states that the bylaws that Gitga’at First Nation made while under the Indian Act will transition to the Gitga’at First Nation Treaty government.
If Gitga’at First Nation, Canada, or British Columbia don’t like the way a specific aspect of the Treaty is operating, they may propose to change it. If the 3 governments agree to change the Treaty, they will decide on the exact wording of the change, and Gitga’at First Nation will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed change. The Amendment chapter details how that process would happen to make it fair and predictable.
Approval of the Gitga’at Agreement in Principle (AIP)
To move from the Negotiation of the Gitga’at AIP (4th stage) to the Negotiation of the Gitga’at Treaty (5th Stage), the Gitga’at AIP must be approved by the Chief Negotiators for Gitga’at First Nation, British Columbia, and Canada. The AIP is not legally binding, which means that the Treaty is still a living document that can be changed.