Pursuit of Self-Government
WLFN along with other Northern Secwepemc Communities, the Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ), including Xatśūll Cmetem’ (Soda Creek/Deep Creek), Stswēceḿc Xgāt’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek), and Tsq’ēsceń (Canim Lake) submitted its Statement of Intend to join the British Columbia Treaty Process in December 1993.
However, this process did not begin in 1993 but was first initiated in 1879 when Chief William submitted a grievance letter to the Victoria Colonist to voice his discontent over the loss of his lands and authority over his people.
Furthermore, the second Chief William continued to fight for the Title and Rights of the Williams Lake First Nation when he joined the Secwepemc Nation’s Chiefs in signing the Memorial to Sir Wilfred Laurier in 1910. In the memorial, the Chiefs stated that they were once supreme in their territory. They write:
“They found the people of each tribe supreme in their own territory and having tribal boundaries known and recognized by all. The country of each tribe was just the same as a very large farm or ranch belonging to all the people of the tribe) from which they gathered their food and clothing etc…, and all necessaries of life were obtained in abundance from the lands of each tribe and all the people had equal rights to access everything they required”.
However, Once the white people got more powerful, the relationship between the whites and Secwepemc changed for the worst. The chiefs complained that:
“they treat as subjects without any agreement to that effect and force their laws on us without our consent, and irrespective of whether they are good for us or not. They say they have authority over us. They have broken down our old laws and customs (no matter how good) by which we regulated ourselves”.
In their final statement, the Secwepemc Chiefs demanded that their land question be settled, they write:
“We demand that our land question be settled and ask that treaties be made between the government and each of our tribes, in the same manner as accomplished with the Indian Tribes of the other provinces of Canada and in the neighbouring parts of the United States. We desire that every matter of importance to each tribe be subject of treaty, so we may have a definite understanding with the government on all questions of moment between us and them.”
Upon entering the BC Treaty Process in 1993, the NSTQ Chiefs did not only breathe life into the words of our ancestral Chiefs but also continued the fight that they started 141 years ago.
Williams Lake First Nation is part of The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ), which is a group of four autonomous Nations in the Cariboo region: Soda Creek (Xatśūll Cmetem’), Canoe Creek (Stswēceḿc Xgāt’tem), Williams Lake (T’ēxelc) and Canim Lake (Tsq’ēsceń).
NStQ entered the BC Treaty Process in 1994 and are now in Stage 5 (out of 6 stages) with the Agreement-in-Principle signed in July 2018.
The province of BC signed Incremental Treaty Agreements (ITAs) with each of the four nations in 2016 and, in October 2018, it and NStQ signed a Government-to-Government Agreement.
Through this process, Williams Lake First Nation held referendums to proceed into stage 4 and stage 5 of the negotiations and will also hold a referendum to accept the Final Agreement.
The purpose of the referendums moving from one stage to another is to ensure that membership is in support of the process and to provide the Leadership with a mandate to negotiation a Self-government Agreement on their behalf.
For more information about NStQ Treaty process, please click here
WLFN Self-Government Department
The Self-Government Department consists of the Director of Self-Government, Self-Government Transition Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and Self-Government Executive Assistant. WLFN is now in stage 5 of a 6 stage treaty process.
Director of Self-Government
Chris Wycotte Sr.
The British Columbia Treaty Commission 6 stage process is as follows
Stage One: Statement of Intent
A First Nation wanting to initiate treaty negotiations must file a statement of intent with the Treaty Commission. The statement must: identify the First Nation and its members; describe the First Nation’s traditional territory; indicate that the First Nation has a mandate to enter into and represent its members in treaty negotiations; and appoint a formal contact person.
Stage Two: Preparation for Negotiations
The three parties confirm their commitment to negotiate a treaty, establish that they have the authority and resources to commence negotiations, have a means of developing their mandates and broadly outline what each of them wishes to negotiate.
Stage Two: Readiness Documents
By the end of Stage Two, Canada and BC must also submit readiness documents to the Treaty Commission in which they identify community interests in the region and establish ways to address those interests. The table moves on to Stage Three when the Treaty Commission is satisfied that the parties have met these requirements.
Stage Three: Negotiation of a Framework Agreement
The Framework Agreement defines the issues the parties have agreed to negotiate, establishes the objectives of the negotiation, identifies the procedures that will be followed and sets out a timetable for negotiations. The parties expand their public consultation in local communities and initiate a program of public information.
Stage Four: Negotiation of an Agreement in Principle
Substantive negotiations take place in this stage. Land, resources, self-government and financial components usually form part of the negotiations. The Agreement in Principle sets out the key objectives and elements to be part of self-government.
Stage Five: Negotiation to Finalize a Self-Government Agreement
At this stage, outstanding legal and technical issues are resolved. Formal signing and ratification of the agreement brings the parties to Stage Six.
Stage Six: Self-Government Agreement Implementation
The plans to implement the self-government agreement are put into effect or phased in as agreed. The table remains active to oversee the implementation of the agreement.