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Treaty vs Reconciliation Negotiations

Gitga'at First Nation was previously involved in treaty negotiations, but the process was complicated, expensive, and slow. A while back, Gitga'at First Nation moved away from treaty negotiations to reconciliation negotiations. 

In Canada, both treaties and reconciliation agreements work toward similar goals but in different ways. 

Below are the key differences between the two.

Treaties at a Glance

Treaties have been around for a long time. These agreements between First Nations and the government try to fix past problems. They help outline who owns what land and how resources will be shared. But in history, treaties haven't always been fair. Sometimes, First Nations communities had little say in the agreements, and promises made weren't always kept.

A critical thing about treaties is that they cover a lot of ground simultaneously. They try to settle all the issues in one big agreement, laying out what each side gets and has to do. Usually, treaties meant First Nations and other Indigenous groups had to give up their land in exchange for certain rights or benefits.

The treaty process can take a long time and be complicated and expensive. This sometimes led to unfair outcomes that left First Nations communities feeling left out or taken advantage of.

An Overview of Reconciliation Agreements

Reconciliation agreements are newer and work a bit differently than treaties. These official agreements focus on fixing old problems and improving things between First Nation peoples and the government.

Reconciliation agreements start by recognizing First Nations' rights and ownership of their land. This recognition happens right away instead of after long negotiations.

Reconciliation agreements also take things one step at a time. Instead of trying to solve everything all at once, they deal with smaller issues one after another. This way, changes can happen gradually, and everyone has time to adjust.

Another big difference is that reconciliation agreements give help right away. First Nations communities might get settlements or agreements immediately without waiting for everything to be settled.

A Quick Comparison of Treaties and Reconciliation Agreements


Reconciliation Agreements

Intended as a final agreement with a clear endpoint

Does not necessarily have an endpoint, allowing for continuous improvement

Land title is negotiated, changed, or cancelled

Land title is recognized upfront without the need for legal battles

Often uses a "take it or leave it" approach, settling all issues at once

Proceeds step-by-step, addressing specific concerns gradually

Funds come at the end after all terms are agreed upon

Funding flows immediately to support First Nations communities

Where is GFN with Reconciliation Negotiations Now?

GFN has entered into reconciliation negotiations with the governments of Canada and British Columbia.

These negotiations will create a pathway through which Gitga'at can regain the ability to govern themselves and regain jurisdiction and authority over their territorial lands and waters.

Eric Anderson leads this project and regularly provides updates on the GFN website and in the quarterly Amhaw newsletter.


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