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In-Shuck-ch re-enter treaty process

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The In-Shuck-ch, representing approximately 1,000 members of the X'axtsa (Douglas), Skatin (Skookumchuck) and Samahquam bands, has re-entered the treaty negotiation process.

Gerard Peters, chief negotiator for the In-Shuck-ch, said this week the First Nations’ statement of intent has been accepted by the B.C. Treaty Commission, completing stage 1 of the treaty process.

The In-Shuck-ch, whose traditional territories extend from Lillooet Lake to Harrison Lake, were at one time at the forefront of the negotiation process, along with the N’Quat’qua of Anderson Lake. When the N’Quat’qua withdrew from the process, approximately two years ago, the In-Shuck-ch treaty table was nullified.

The Douglas, Skatin and Samahquam each re-affirmed their intention to enter the treaty process late last year and the three councils convened in December to create a new statement of intent.

Peters, while acknowledging there has been a shift in treaty negotiations under the provincial Liberal government, including a review of the treaty process and the current referendum on treaty negotiations, said the In-Shuck-ch can’t afford to just sit and watch what’s going on.

"We will do what ever we have to in terms of biding our time or what’s necessary," Peters said of the referendum. "We may live in the bush but we’re tuned in to what’s going on, in politics, with the Olympics and everything else."

The provincial government has told its negotiators not to discuss native governance until after the referendum is completed, but Peters said the Westbank Nation is close to completing a bilateral governance agreement with the federal government.

Noting the review of the treaty process had encouraged "incremental treaty negotiations" on some issues, Peters said the In-Shuck-ch are prepared to negotiate on land and resources, including forest tenures, run-of-rive hydro projects and the road which runs from Harrison to Pemberton. Those are issues the In-Shuck-ch see as crucial to their future.

"We’ll never have self-government if someone else has to pay for it," Peters said.

A formal meeting to announce the In-Shuck-ch’s participation in the treaty process will take place later this month.

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