A. Framework Agreement to Negotiate a Community Comprehensive Claim Agreement for the KFN
1. In October, the representatives from KFN and Canada concluded a Framework Agreement to negotiate a community comprehensive claim agreement between the KFN, Canada and the GNWT
This Framework Agreement is a result of a new approach by Canada to settle outstanding land claims in the north. They have agreed to negotiate on a community basis rather than just on a regional or tribal basis. Other First Nations in the Dehcho area are also considering community comprehensive claims negotiations.
This newsletter will inform KFN members about the purpose and terms of the proposed Framework Agreement.
2. The Framework Agreement sets out an “agenda” for future negotiations. It identifies the issues to be negotiated, including:
(i) the amount, location and status of settlement lands (currently estimated to be 1,700 square miles in fee simple) and community lands for the KFN;
(ii) the financial terms (currently estimated to be approximately $14 million);
(iii) a self-government agreement; and
(iv) new fiscal arrangements with Canada.
3. The Framework Agreement is not a binding legal agreement, but only intended to set up the principles, process and agenda for negotiations of a new comprehensive claim agreement. Once the new agreement is negotiated (this is expected to take two to three years), the community members will be fully informed about the terms of this agreement and will have an opportunity to vote in a referendum whether to approve or reject the agreement.
4. The comprehensive claim agreement will become a new, modern Treaty between the KFN and Canada. However, the rights of KFN members under Treaty 8 to hunt, fish and trap will continue. As well, the KFN will continue to negotiate a cash settlement of its outstanding Treaty land entitlement and a cash settlement of its Treaty entitlement to agricultural benefits pursuant to Treaty 8. These are separate negotiations at separate tables.
5. It is the current policy of DIAND that should the KFN decide to enter into a new comprehensive claim agreement, it will move out from under the Indian Act and the lands will no longer have reserve status. They will, however, remain KFN community lands and be under the jurisdiction of a new KFN self-government act.
However, this is only the current government policy and this may change over the two to three year period of negotiations.
6. In any event, the community will have an opportunity in the referendum to decide whether it wishes to keep the reserve and status quo, or adopt a new Treaty with more lands and self-government.
B. Update to Members on Negotiations to Settle Outstanding Treaty Entitlement to Agricultural Benefits
By Christmas, the KFN will be submitting a Band Council Resolution to Canada stating the proposed population basis of the KFN on which it will settle the First Nation’s validated outstanding Treaty entitlement to agricultural benefits.
As members are aware, Canada has been in negotiations with Treaty 8 First Nations for the last 14 years to settle this outstanding Treaty entitlement. The federal and First Nation negotiators have agreed on the per capita amount of funding to be paid and are awaiting just the population figures of each First Nation in order to get a settlement proposal for the KFN approved by Treasury Board, and possibly Cabinet.
Once this approval occurs, Canada will make an offer to the KFN.
The Chief and Council are hopeful that this offer to the KFN will be made by next summer and there will be a vote on the settlement early in the fall.
The Chief and Council will be working with the members and their lawyers to design a settlement trust into which the money will be paid and used for purposes and in a manner identified and approved by the members.
There will also be a per capita distribution in an amount to be determined.
C. Update on Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) Negotiations
Canada has agreed that the KFN did not receive all the reserve land to which it was entitled under Treaty 8.
The First Nation can either negotiate for additional reserve land or cash in lieu of reserve land, and cash compensation for loss of the land.
The Chief and Council are currently negotiating with Canada both the amount of land that the First Nation is entitled to and also what would be an appropriate amount of financial compensation for loss of use of land. To assist the First Nation, they have retained an expert in Treaty land entitlement.
These negotiations are expected to take a couple of years to be resolved. The Chief and Council met with the federal negotiators in mid-November to continue these negotiations.
Members will be updated as negotiations progress.