As the NStQ treaty table prepares to enter Final Negotiations (Stage 5), we endeavor to keep NStQ members as updated and informed as possible. Here s a sampling of answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions.
Q:What is happening at the Treaty table?
A:The provincial and federal governments are posed to finally sign our Agreement-in-Principle (AiP). That will trigger the start of the Final Agreement negotiations this summer. After so many years of hard work by many members of NStQ, we believe the nation is ready to move quickly toward a Final Agreement. Input from NStQ members will be vital to reaching that goal. And NStQ members will have that final say in vote on the Final Agreement at the end of this process.
Q:What is this costing us?
A: When NStQ set out on the path to self-government, Canada provided the funds in the form of loans that were expected to be paid back upon reaching a Final Agreement. NStQ agreed to this.
This year (2018), Canada eliminated loan funding and is now providing those funds as grants. NStQ has also been assured that the $30 Million spent so far s being eliminated. Those funds will NOT have to be repaid to Canada! The loan issue is a huge victory for NStQ and other nations who have been steadfast at the treaty table – that they not pay to negotiate back lands that were taken from them illegally.
Q:What is being negotiated?
A: Under British Columbia’s “modern treaty process” NStQ, Canada or BC may introduce any issue at the negotiation table which it views as significant. Although our treaty negotiation is unique and our Final Agreement will be unique, there are some common elements among final treaties. Each one includes:
- First Nations government structures and related financial arrangements jurisdiction and ownership of lands, waters and resources cash settlements.
- For NStQ, those important issues include:
- Funds to improve and add to our Housing inventory
- Shared governance of Fisheries Jurisdiction over Children & Families services
- Treaties also establish processes for resolving disputes and making changes to the treaty in future.
Q: What if another nation gets a better treaty in a few years?
A: For many years, BC and Canada wanted the Final Agreement to be “full and fnal” settlement of NStQ rights. NStQ refused.
The provincial and federal governments have accepted that we will not sign away any future rights. They agree that this treaty will be a ‘’living document” that can be updated and changed in future as Indigenous rights in Canada continue to evolve.
We expect to start Final Agreement negotiations (Stage Five) this summer and NStQ will seek a “me too” clause in the treaty. That means that if more favourable terms come about in future, we can reopen our treaty to negotiate the same for NStQ.
Q: Is private property on the negotiations table?
A: Private property that is for sale by willing owners- and that NStQ communities want to own – is being discussed at the NStQ table. We have also negotiated a fund for NStQ to buy properties in future from willing sellers, in addition to any Treaty Settlement Lands (TSL) included in the Final Agreement.
Q: Will NStQ citizens have to pay taxes?
A: First, it is important to remember that First Nations only to receive tax exemptions when on reserves, so most already pay the same taxes as other Canadians.
All previous treaties do include the gradual elimination of tax exemptions – eight years after the effective date for sales tax exemptions and 12 years after for all other taxes, including income tax.
As for property taxes, the NStQ government will have the power to raise revenues through property tazes on Treaty Settlement Lands. That will apply to TSL residents, whether NStQ members or non-members.
Like any other government, those taxes will allow NStQ to provide services such as water and sewage, waste management, housing renovations, etc. It will entirely be NStQ’s decision.
Property taxes are based on the assessed value of a property and it’s important to note that property taxes in the Cariboo are drastically lower than those in Vancouver or Kelowna. For example, the municipal governments in the Cariboo charge about $5 for every $1,000 of assessed value. So, if a home is worth $100,000 the full property tax assessment is $500 for the year. However, there are also grants for rural homeowners or seniors that can reduce that bill to as little as $100 a year.
Q: How will NStQ Treaty affect members living off-reserve?
A: NStQ members must register to vote on the Final Agreement. However, they have the ‘option’ of not registering and continuing as Status First Nations under the Indian Act.
- For those living on TSL lands, if the agreement passes, they will be living on lands owned and wholly under the jurisdiction of NStQ government. The laws and policies of the NStQ government will apply on those lands and NStQ will deliver services to NStQ citizens.
- For those living outside TSL lands who choose to ‘’opt out” of the Treaty, all of their current programs and services under the Indian Act will continue – including tax-exempt status.
- For those living outside TSL lands who choose to “opt in” to the Treaty, it is the intention of NStQ to provide services to citizens wherever they live. It is our intention to negotiate funding to provide that support to outside-of-nation citizens. It is also our intention to leverage the economic opportunities that come with owning our own lands to raise own-source funds for services and support to all NStQ citizens wherever they may live.
- We welcome your questions and suggestions. Please contact the SXFN Treaty Office.
Stswecem’c Xgat’tem Treaty Office
Dog Creek BC