The Government of British Columbia and Snuneymuxw First Nation have reached an agreement that would see 3,000 hectares of land transferred to Snuneymuxw ownership. The Land Transfer Agreement was reached on Sept. 20 and includes culturally and economically significantly territory at Mount Benson and Mount McKay, near Nanaimo.
“The agreements signed today with Snuneymuxw and British Columbia mark a major step forward in a journey that goes back to the important promises and understandings that formed the basis of our treaty relationship with the Crown,” said Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief, Mike Wyse.
The agreement will result in economic growth and as many as 160 new jobs through innovative forestry partnerships that build on the Mid-Island Regional Forestry Initiative signed in 2017 between Snuneymuxw and industry, according to a BC government press release.
“Today is an historic day for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and specifically for Snuneymuxw First Nation as they move forward their work and vision to grow the economy in Nanaimo in partnership with forest companies,” said Premier John Horgan on Sunday. “I committed to the Snuneymuxw First Nation to help resolve a long-standing desire for a greater stake in the economic development of Crown lands in their territory and I’m pleased to act on that commitment now.”
Snuneymuxw agreed to discontinue litigation launched against the province in 2001 over concerns that log booming in the Nanaimo River estuary impacts its treaty rights to fish, according to the press release.
Public engagement on Snuneymuxw’s future planning for the Mount Benson and Mount McKay lands will be a priority leading up to the eventual transfer of the lands, according to the press release. This engagement will inform future land use after the parcels are transferred.
The land parcels include 1,003 hectares at Mount Benson and 2,097 hectares at Mount McKay and are home to key wildlife habitats and popular recreational spots for the public. Snuneymuxw confirmed access to the Great Trail of Canada will remain in place and 300 hectares on Mount McKay will be conserved to provide habitat for elk and deer populations.