Tla’amin Nation: Positive change through treaty
Sept. 13, 2017
POWELL RIVER – Over the first year of implementing its treaty, the Tla’amin Nation has embraced change and plenty of it.
The Tla’amin Treaty came into effect on April 5, 2016, launching the Tla’amin into a new era of independence and self-government. The Tla’amin Nation became the largest fee-simple landowner in the Powell River area, with ownership and authority over 8,323 hectares of treaty land.
“Ownership of land is huge. Governance over treaty settlement land is a big change,” said Hegus Clint Williams, leader of the Tla’amin government. “It’s been an exciting year as we were never sure what to expect. It was a very rewarding year and we’re able to do things for our people that we were never able to do before. There is pride that we are self-sustaining and continue to build and strengthen our independence.”
The Tla’amin Nation has started the process of providing property title certificates to its citizens, which create a path to qualifying for a mortgage and home ownership. “Citizens can now have title to their house and property. It makes a life-changing impact for citizens,” said Roy Francis, Tla’amin’s community development officer and the former chief negotiator for the treaty.
The nation has also engineered its first forestry cutblock for its treaty lands. Francis said Tla’amin could harvest 25,000 cubic metres sustainably, but has set the cut to a conservative 16,000 cubic metres. “That operation will yield $1 million per year on a sustainable basis. That economic development is very positive for us,” Francis said.
The nation has also been studying the potential for a small run-of-river hydroelectric project attached to Sliammon Lake, in place of an existing dam. A turbine could effectively power the entire community, plus feed into the grid. “The three to five megawatt range is about 700 homes annually. It would be significant if it’s successful,” Francis said.
Over the past year, the Tla’amin government has been focused on creating new laws and regulations that support the nation’s social and economic aspirations, and establish priorities for services and infrastructure. Tla’amin completed and centralized its services into its new Government House, and held its first election as a Treaty First Nation in September 2016.
The nation reorganized the structure of its development corporation to better support sustainable economic development. Through extensive consultation with its citizens, Tla’amin is following its land-use plan to guide priorities and development for its lands and resources. Lands have been earmarked for economic development, such as commercial forestry, aquaculture, industrial and commercial activities, tourism, and market housing along 70 square kilometres of waterfront property.
The nation has started the process to develop subdivisions to expand residential housing and has attracted investment to grow its value-added wood manufacturing, and shellfish and seafood processing operations. The Tla’amin Nation is the full owner of the Lund Hotel and Marina and is making its mark as a tourist destination.
Francis noted that over the past five years the nation has seen a significant and steady drop in its citizens needing social assistance. “The social impact of the treaty has been very positive. There are far fewer people on social assistance. They’re either working or in school,” Francis said. “It’s a very positive evolution, it’s a really good indicator for change.”
Tla’amin Nation: www.tlaaminnation.com
Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect