An agreement signed Friday by the Lake Babine Nation and the provincial and federal governments is being hailed as a groundbreaking step in securing Indigenous rights and title that could provide a model for other reconciliation agreements across the country.
A virtual signing ceremony was held online Friday, involving Lake Babine Chief Gordon Alec, BC Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser and federal minister Carolyn Bennett.
Alec says the agreement provides real immediate benefits for the Lake Babine Nation and its members, and also outlines how the parties will work together to fully enact Aboriginal rights and title.
He says it offers a roadmap for boosting economic development, collaborating on major land and resource decisions and promoting community health and well-being.
"Today marks the beginning of a new change in life, not only for the membership, the council and Lake Babine nation as a whole; it's a stepping stone in which we strived for for many years," he exclaimed.
Fraser says the 20-year Foundation Agreement puts the parties on a path to reconciliation and a better future.
"The agreement sets out a series of very tangible commitments, each step will build on the ones before; the Foundation Agreement gives us a new model for British Columbia for how we work together with First Nations," he said.
Bennett added "what is happening in British Columbia and by the example of what was signed today is really a model for the country."
The Foundation Agreement includes immediate land and financial benefits worth about $200 million -- that includes $43 million in funding and 20,000 hectares of land valued at approximately $150 million.