June 29, 2019 6:58 pm
Updated: June 29, 2019 7:06 pm

Vancouver Island treaty agreement in principle includes West Coast trail lands

Premier John Horgan holds up a treaty in principle along with Ditidaht First Nation Chief Robert Joseph (left) and Pacheedaht First Nation Chief Jeff Jones on Friday, June 28, 2019.

John Horgan/Twitter

The West Coast Trail and portions of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve make up part of a treaty agreement in principle between the federal and provincial governments and two Vancouver Island First Nations.

Premier John Horgan signed the agreement on behalf of the province of British Columbia, saying he is a witness to history after more than 20 years of negotiations.

READ MORE: First Nation on Vancouver Island expects large cash offer for LNG

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The treaty still must be ratified by all parties, but it provides the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations of southwest Vancouver Island with about $60 million in cash transfers, more than 8,000 hectares of Crown, reserve and national park lands and self-government rights.

Ditidaht Chief Robert Joseph says treaty talks have been ongoing since the early 1990s, but he recalls as a young boy in the 1960s elders talking about their land rights.

READ MORE: B.C. treaty talks too slow, but what’s next?

The agreement in principle includes the return of some West Coast Trail lands, considered one of the top hiking trails in the world, and Parks Canada and the First Nations have agreed to preserve the trail experience.

Pacheedaht Chief Jeff Jones says it has not been an easy journey but after 23 years a land-claims treaty is almost a reality.

WATCH: (Aired April 9, 2015) Landmark First Nations treaty deal

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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