Any reduction in the rate of forest cover loss must not detrimentally impact Indigenous people. What forest is logged should primarily benefit First Nations since the resource belongs to them.
LANDMARK DECISIONS by the Supreme Court of Canada have established that Indigenous title and rights in BC were not extinguished by colonial usurpation of Indigenous land. The councils of the Wei Wai Kai First Nation, Kwiakah First Nation, Homalco First Nation, Klahoose First Nation, the K’ómoks First Nation are all involved in treaty negotiations with the governments of Canada and British Columbia for return of their traditional territories. The Tla’amin Nation has already signed a treaty.
The most recent Supreme Court decision governing Indigenous rights to resources on traditional territories was the 2014 Tsilhqot’in decision, which established that a First Nation holding proven Aboriginal title has the exclusive right to decide how the land is used and to benefit from it.
This legal decision was made in the midst of interminably long and expensive treaty negotiations between the governments of BC and Canada and First Nations governments. Until treaties are concluded and signed, the government of BC is restrained from imposing development—such as forestry operations—without consultation and agreement of the First Nation on whose territory the development would affect (see section below on Forest and Range Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements).
Once a treaty has been signed, a First Nation government will have full control of what happens on its treaty lands.
The specific land claims of First Nations on the Discovery Islands are unknown outside of the treaty process. Maps of the traditional territory of each First Nation included with its Statement of Intent (a document required by the treaty process) include all of the Discovery Islands. Based on the seven treaty agreements that have been finalized in BC, a relatively small fraction of the area that each nation has indicated in its Statement of Intent will be returned to the First Nation through the treaty process.
Forest and Range Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements
Following the Tsilhqot’in decision, the provincial government was forced to consult with First Nation governments on any development proposed on their traditional territories. That led to the Province signing “Forest and Range Consultation and Revenue Sharing Ageements” with First Nations. Each of the six nations with traditional territories on the Discovery Islands has signed such an agreement. Click on a link below to see the agreement with that nation.
Progress toward final treaty agreements
Since the BC Treaty Commission started negotiating treaties in 1994, only seven First Nations have completed and signed treaties (Stage 6). In the Discovery Islands area, only Tla’amin First Nation has signed a treaty. K’omoks First Nation, We Wai Kai First Nation and Kwiakah First Nation have all reached Stage 5 of the process. Klahoose First Nation and Homalco First Nation are at Stage 4.
The BC Treaty Commission website has the most current information on the progress each nation is making. The links below will take you directly to each nation’s summary.
The commission also produces an annual report that summarizes the last year’s progress throughout BC.
Learn more about First Nations aspirations
Most First Nations in the Discovery Islands area have websites where you can learn more: