Blueberry River First Nations signs momentous land management agreement with Province of B.C.
Commitments from BC protect Treaty rights, address cumulative impacts, and transform land-use and resource extraction
On January 18, 2023, Blueberry River First Nations and the Province of British Columbia signed the The Blueberry River First Nations Implementation Agreement which lays the foundation for joint management of land and water stewardship as well as resource development.
The deal follows the BC Supreme Court decision (Yahey v. British Columbia, 2021 BCSC) that ruled that the cumulative encroachment of Blueberry territory by provincial development projects effectively barred members of the Nation from exercising their rights and amounted to a breach of Treaty 8. The 2021 judgment opened up a greater role for First Nations in designing protections and management systems for their lands, and ensured that further public development is consistent with Treaty promises.
Under the 2023 agreement, Blueberry River First Nations and the Province will develop watershed, timber, and oil and gas strategies that limit environmental and cultural impact while promoting sustainable economic opportunities in the region.
“This agreement provides a clear pathway to get the hard work started on healing and restoring the land, and start on the joint planning with strong criteria to protect ecosystems, wildlife habitat and old forests,” said Chief Judy Desjarlais of the Blueberry River First Nations.
A team of Ratcliff lawyers have worked with Blueberry River First Nations for nearly a decade on the precedent-setting treaty rights claim and one of the largest Treaty Land Entitlement claims in Canadian history. Ratcliff is honoured to have also participated in the negotiation of this new agreement which works to address the long-term cumulative effects of industry, secures restoration funding to support remediation, introduces revenue-sharing frameworks, and places limits on resource speculation and extraction.