On April 2, 2015 the Carrier Sekani First Nations (CSFN) came to agreement with British Columbia on two groundbreaking Agreements, the Collaboration Agreement (CA) and the Environmental and Socio Cultural Initiatives Agreement (ESCIA). These two agreements detail the relationship we are building to:
[D]evelop a new relationship to facilitate economic opportunities for CSFNs, shared decision making, planning, as well as environmental and cultural stewardship in relation to natural resource development in CSFN Territories. (Collaboration Agreement, 2015: 1)
And the CSFN and BC:
[E]xpressed their shared vision to develop a government-to-government relationship based on respect, recognition, accommodation of Aboriginal title and rights, and reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions in the Territories, as well as the achievement of strong governments, social justice, and self-sufficiency for the CSFNs. (Collaboration Agreement, 2015: 1)
This page is designed to provide information to our Nation members, industry, and other interested parties on the Agreements’ goals, status, and progress in implementation. We will also be providing updates on the Agreements here.
The Agreement Basics
1) three working groups
2) leadership table
3) funding for three years
4) initiatives funding for education, language, and skills
5) opportunity to address infrastructure needs
6) regional collaboration with BC to assess current environmental status (Environmental Stewardship Initiative [ESI])
7) working closely with Provincial Ministers on socio-cultural and environmental issues within the CSFN territories
8) addressing natural gas pipeline concerns as well as other regional developments like mining, forestry, and renewable resources.
In 2011 the Carrier Sekani First Nations (“CSFN”) were approached by three separate companies proposing to develop four natural gas pipelines through our territory.
- Coastal GasLink Pipeline project (CGLP) - TransCanada
- Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project (PRGT) - TransCanada
- Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission project (WCC/Spectra) – Spectra
- Pacific Northern Gas Project (PNG) - Alta Gas
These proposed projects brought together the seven CSFN like never before as we recognized the adverse effects these projects would have on CSTC lands, animals, and water if they all were developed.
Our lands are already being over developed and we are feeling the effects of this. Our animals are declining; we are losing our forests, our water, and our plants. We have a responsibility to take care of our lands for our culture, our youth, and our future.
With these goals in mind the seven CSFN – Burns Lake Band, Nadleh Whut’en, Nak’azdli Band, Saik’uz First Nation, Takla Lake First Nation, Tl’azt’en Nation, and Stellat’en First Nation – worked together to reach agreement with BC to ensure that a process was put in place to allow for us to work with BC and industry to address our concerns for our environment, culture, and people.
In late 2013 negotiations started with BC and TransCanada in attempt to address the concerns raised by the CSNF. These negotiations were approached as a government –to-government (“G2G”) process and extended beyond the concerns of the natural gas projects and impacts. Negotiations with BC were irregular at this point but several temporary agreements were signed that provided funding for negotiations to continue, and also identified key points for negotiation.
These negotiations were focused primarily on natural gas but the Nations wanted more. Throughout late 2013 and 2014 BC and the CSFN negotiators met trying to come to agreement.
Everything changed on June 26, 2014 when the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court Decision was released. The decision stated clearly that First Nations title to the land was recognized and consent was required before Major Projects could be started.
The CSFN continued to engage with the Environmental Assessment Office (“EAO”) as they reviewed the natural gas pipeline applications. The nations provided feedback and comments regarding the projects and they raised their concerns with the EAO. Despite our concerns the EAO approved the applications of the three pipelines (CGLP; PRGT; and WCC) and on October 23, 2014 these companies received their Environmental Assessment Certificates. The EAO concluded there would be “no significant environmental or socio-economic effects” on First Nations as a result of these pipelines.
The CSFN did not agree with the EAO’s decision and the seven Chiefs met to determine their next steps. Based on their best efforts to engage with the EAO in the environmental assessment and with the affirmation of aboriginal rights through the Tsilhqot’in Decision the nations met and determined how they would proceed.
In late November 2015 Nak’azdli Whut’en and Nadleh Whut’en notified BC that they intended to file a request for a judicial review (“JR”); this advanced notification allowed BC an opportunity to address the identified issues before moving to a court action. BC and TransCanada did not address these issues to Nak’azdli’s or Nadleh’s satisfaction and the JR was formally filed on December 18, 2014.
Upon filing of the JR, BC and TransCanada request an abeyance (time extension) so they can prepare for the review. The CSFN granted the indulgence and prioritized their negotiations with BC, then TransCanada and then the Oil and Gas Commission (“OGC”) [although the OGC ended up being part of the BC negotiations process later].
When the abeyance was granted in early January negotiations were re-initiated with BC. Between late January 2015 and April 2, 2015 the Chiefs, the CSTC and BC met regularly to address the CSFNs concerns regarding inadequate consultation and accommodation of aboriginal rights that would occur through the construction of the proposed pipelines.
On April 2, 2015 the Chiefs and BC reached agreement and signed the Collaboration Agreement (“CA”) and the Environmental and Socio Cultural Initiatives Agreement (“ESCIA”). These agreements were provided the best opportunity possible for the Chiefs and the nations to work closely with BC to make decisions about their lands and to be a part of the decision making process.
The CSFNs as a result of these agreements are moving towards the creation of a Carrier Sekani Government.