A small Indian band on the East Coast of Vancouver Island has taken a big step toward finalizing a treaty by voting to approve an agreement in principle with the federal and provincial governments.
Under the agreement, approved on the weekend by 74 per cent of band members, the K'ómoks First Nation will get ownership of more than 2,000 hectares of land and receive a cash payment of more than $17-million from Canada.
The vote was 101 to 35 in favour of accepting the agreement in principle, which Chief Ernie Hardy said will now lead to community consultations on the next steps needed to proceed to a final treaty.
"The AIP is a major step towards a final treaty, a way for us to break free from the Indian Act," said Chief Hardy. "We want to be clear: this is not for our generation. It is for our young people - so they can flourish."
The agreement gives the K'ómoks, who are located in the Comox Valley, near Courtenay on Vancouver Island, ownership of all forest resources on treaty lands, as well as access to large cedars on provincial Crown lands for cultural purposes, such as building canoes, totem poles or longhouses.