Land treaty talks could impact provincial pastures

CRESTON, B.C. — A new set of land treaty talks focusing on the Cariboo region of British Columbia could affect ranchers relying on provincial grazing land.

Crown grazing tenures are included in the land involved in this set of negotiations, which could result in a precedent setting agreement, said Grant Huffman of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association’s aboriginal affairs committee.

“We see this as a real test case as to how they are going to handle that,” he told the association’s annual meeting, held in Creston May 21-24.

“The negotiators have acknowledged this will be one of the most complicated treaty talks.… I hope we are going to be able to set some precedents that will serve members in other areas and that we will be able to be involved in some respectful and reasonable treaty negotiations that have some longevity to them.”

The Northern Shuswap treaty talks involve four First Nations groups and are focused primarily in the Cariboo region of central B.C. The province and Ottawa are working with the group on an agreement in principle, which includes a land and cash offer from the two levels of government.

Cattle produces are not involved in the negotiations but sit as observers because of the potential impact it may have on leases.

The government is involved in more than 50 sets of negotiations in a process that started in 1992. B.C. is unique in that few bands originally signed treaties. Three have been successfully completed.

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