The B.C. government and Lake Babine Nation have taken steps together to recognize and implement the Nation’s rights and title by signing a new land transfer agreement on Friday.
The agreement will give Lake Babine Nation control of 20,000 hectares of waterfront and forestry lands inside its territory.
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”It’s a show of commitment for many more lands to come thereafter because Lake Babine has just over one million hectares of land within our traditional territory and you know, this is just a first step towards getting more lands back,” Chief Murphy Abraham told Global News.
“This is just the beginning. Our ancestors fought hard to protect our territory, and the land transfer agreement is the first step in bringing these lands back to Lake Babine’s control and decision-making.”
The land transfer will enable the Lake Babine Nation to expand its forestry business and drive economic opportunity in the regional economy, according to the government.
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A Foundation Agreement was signed by Canada, Lake Babine Nation and the province in September 2020.
The agreement is being used as a roadmap for reconciliation, providing a step-by-step guide for how the Nation and the provincial and federal governments will work together in a phased approach to implement self-governance, title and other rights in Lake Babine, boost economic development, collaborate on major land and resource decisions, and promote community health and well-being.
“The signing of the Lake Babine Lands Transfer Agreement is a significant step toward the implementation of Lake Babine Nation’s Aboriginal title — a key objective of the historic Foundation Agreement,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“Through the Foundation Agreement, we are moving into a new relationship that fosters transformative change toward self-government, makes a real difference on the ground for Lake Babine Nation members, and brings stability and prosperity to everyone in the region.”
In 2021, the province accelerated payments of $22 million to Lake Babine Nation under the Foundation Agreement to help with economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well.