NEWS

Sliammon First Nation approves contentious treaty

07/11/2012 12:24 EDT | Updated 09/10/2012 05:12 EDT
Members of a Sunshine Coast First Nation have approved a treaty with the federal and provincial governments.

The treaty gives the Sliammon First Nation about 8,322 hectares of land, nearly $30 million over 10 years, as well as self-government, economic development funding and resource revenue.

Just 51 per cent of registered Sliammon voters ratified the treaty. There were 615 members eligible to vote and with 318 people approving the treaty, the margin of victory was just 10 ballots.

Sliammon Chief Clint Williams reminded supporters to be humble in their celebrations and prepare for hard work as the roughly 1,000 members of the band shed the Indian Act and begin to govern themselves.

A first attempt to settle the referendum was stopped on June 16 by a group that blocked voters from the polling station.

On Tuesday, a B.C. Supreme Court judge upheld a June 22 injunction stopping the Protectors of Sliammon Sovereignty from preventing the vote.

But spokesperson Brandon Peters said Wednesday the group is talking about disputing the final ratification vote based on voter-enrolment issues. Peters has said the group wanted to stop the vote because they believe it is tainted by ineligible voters and bribery.

However, the razor-thin margin of victory doesn't concern B.C. Minister of Aboriginal Relations Mary Polak.

While the vote was tight, she said, it should still be considered a satisfactory result that allows the allows the Sliammon to start on the road to self government.

A recent report noted in the past 20 years, B.C. treaty negotiations have produced only a handful of treaties, at a cost of $420 million for B.C.'s more than 200 First Nations.

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