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Lheidli T’enneh Treaty Post-Mortem

Months after the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (Prince George area) rejected a treaty settlement with the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada, the BC Treaty Commission has released two research reports into why the treaty failed to gain support. The first report, titled ‘Lheidli T’enneh Communications Probe,’ provides a breakdown of voting results, a timeline for the treaty, and a list of ‘perceived’ reasons for the failure of the vote. It concludes that more time should have been devoted to addressing the concerns of the no vote side and that the rush to a vote created poor communications about the value of a yes vote.

The second document is titled ‘Lheidli T’enneh First Nation Member Survey.’ It offers the results of research conducted by the survey research company Mustel Group. This is the raw material used to generate the shorter Communications Probe described above. It is a glossy publication which includes lists of the reasons why Lheidli T’enneh members voted yes or no. There are 28 pages of verbatim responses to questions about the treaty process and decisions for voting in favour or against the treaty.

It is the second document which really caught my eye. The data contained in it will be incredibly useful for updating my lectures on the history of relations between BC and aboriginal people. This document should also be required reading for anyone involved in negotiating treaties; it provides dozens of useful observations from native people about the problems with the treaty process and, indeed, why treaties are important to pursue.

Vaughn Palmer weighs in on the documents and concludes that they are “sober reading” in light of the BC Government’s New Relationship and the hope of settling long-standing grievances.

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