Treaty settlement lands

An essential part of any treaty, land provides a sustainable base for community development and economic activity. First Nations negotiate with the governments of Canada and BC to acquire ownership of lands that will become treaty settlement lands - lands over which First Nations will have law-making authority. Crown land owned by either government is generally used for treaty settlements. Privately-owned land isonly provided as treaty settlement land if it is first purchased, on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, by Canada, BC, or the First Nation.

The treaty will clearly set out the amount of settlement lands included in the treaty as well as the scope of the First Nation government's law-making powers on those lands.

Additions to treaty settlement lands

Treaties may contain provisions stating that First Nations may purchase fee simple lands after the treaty is signed, and if certain conditions are met, then seek the approval of Canada and BC to have these lands added to treaty settlement lands. If this land is added to treaty settlement lands, the First Nation will have law-making authority over it. If the land is not added to treaty settlement lands, the land will be owned by the First Nation but remain under the existing jurisdiction.

First Nations and municipalities

The treaty will set out how the First Nation government will co-exist with other levels of government, including municipalities. The First Nation and municipalities will work together on land planning and other issues of common concern.

It is expected that all occupants on treaty settlement lands will pay property taxes to, and receive services from, the First Nation government. As the municipality will no longer be responsible for providing services to treaty settlement lands, it will no longer collect taxes for that land.

Where necessary, servicing agreements will be established with neighbouring governments for the provision of basic services to treaty settlement lands. As well, transitional arrangements will be established between the First Nation and municipality regarding the use of municipal infrastructure for the delivery of services.


First Nations' claimed traditional territories can and do overlap. In BC, there are often multiple overlapping claims. First Nations are responsible for resolving overlaps and report to the BC Treaty Commission and to Canada and BC on the progress of discussions with other First Nations. Provisions are placed in each treaty that ensure that other First Nations' rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1882, will not be adversely affected by the rights provided under the treaty.

Leases and licences

Generally, the terms and conditions of existing leases and licences will be respected after the treaty comes into effect. Existing legal interests will be dealt with equitably if affected.


Treaties will provide for reasonable public access for hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing and other recreational activities on treaty settlement lands. First Nations will be able to designate land use on treaty settlement lands, much as other local governments designate land use in their areas of jurisdiction.

Treaties will also include provisions to ensure public access for rights-of-way and navigable waters, and specific access for owners of fee simple parcels and tenure-holders.

Treaties will provide for unrestricted access for public and commercial traffic on highways. Highways will remain provincial Crown land and are specifically excluded from treaty settlement lands.