Blueberry River First Nation reaches land stewardship agreement with BC government
The Blueberry River First Nation has reached a historic land agreement with the province.
The agreement, signed today in Prince George, gives the Blueberry River increased stewardship over their traditional land. It has provisions for natural gas and forestry activities, restoration of wildlife habitats, and economic benefits for the nation.
“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 Nation. “With the knowledge and guidance of our Elders, this new agreement will ensure there will be healthy land and resources for current and future generations to carry on our people’s way of life.”
The new agreement comes after a landmark B.C. Supreme Court decision in June of 2021, which found the Province had infringed on Blueberry River’s Treaty 8 rights, through the impacts of decades of industrial development.
As part of the agreement, the BC government will contribute $200 million by June 2025 for land restoration. The agreement will also establish limits on new petroleum and natural gas development, protections for old forests and traplines, and hunting regulations to protect moose populations.
Blueberry River First Nations will receive $87.5 million as a financial package over three years, with an opportunity for increased benefits based on PNG revenue-sharing and provincial royalty revenues in the next two fiscal years.
“This historic agreement between British Columbia and Blueberry River First Nations not only brings more predictability for the region and local economy but it helps ensure that we are operating on the land in partnership to ensure sustainability for future generations,” said Premier David Eby.
“Our government is committed to upholding our obligations under Treaty 8,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Following a thorough process of negotiations, we have found a sustainable, long-term solution with Blueberry River First Nations that will reset the balance promised in Treaty 8, ensuring environmental sustainability, protection of Indigenous culture, and stable economic activity and employment.”