Vision Statement - Strategic Plan
Treaty negotiations between the Lake Babine Nation, Canada and British Columbia have been inactive for the last several years. While there are different reasons for the inactivity, simply put, the Lake Babine Nation was not ready for continued treaty discussions. Since the fall of 2005, the Lake Babine Nation has undertaken a number of initiatives to become ready to recommence treaty negotiations. These initiatives have been led by Joe Michell, with assistance from Mark Stevenson and Mel Bevan. As a part of these initiatives, it was agreed that a strategic plan for treaty negotiations should be developed. Several planning sessions have produced this draft strategic plan for treaties.
II. Executive Summary
Discussions in the planning sessions have identified the critical issues that will need to be addressed in the strategic plan. The issues identified and discussed include:
- Communications with members and communities
- Engaging British Columbia in the process
- Mandate Development
- Structure (Main Boards, Local Boards and LBN Council)
- Identifying priorities and timeframes
- Protocols between the Local Boards and Main Board re funding etc
- Role of Chief Negotiator, Treaty Manager and Community Negotiators
- Treaty work planning; and
- BCTC Funding proposal (2006/07)
Attendees at the planning session reviewed the elements that need to be in place have a successful strategic plan. Key elements for a successful plan include: community support, political support, an individual responsible for implementing the plan, and the necessary resources. Responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Strategic Plan will rest with the Treaty Manager, in conjunction with the Main Board. Fundamentally it was agreed that the purpose for the Lake Babine communities working together is to negotiate and conclude treaty negotiations under the British Columbia Treaty Process. It was agreed that this single purpose should be reflected in the Mission Statement. A sub component of this purpose is to develop greater autonomy for the Lake Babine Nation Communities, including: Woyenne, Old Fort, Tachet, Fort Babine and Donald’s Landing.
A number of critical issues were discussed by planning session participants. It was agreed that the most critical issues that need to be addressed are: improved communications; engaging British Columbia in the process, the relationship between the Local Board, Main Board and LBN Council, having results oriented negotiations, a better informed mandate development process and community support. With the forgoing in mind, participants in the planning sessions agreed that the key strategies should include:
- A Communications Strategy that will generate support for treaty negotiations by informing community members and enhancing the exchange of information between the individual communities and community members;
- A strategy to bring BC to table;
- A Management strategy around the working relationships between the Local Boards and the Main Board and the LBN Council;
- A Negotiation Strategy that would have clear time frames and deliverables intended to result in the conclusion of an Agreement in Principle and Incremental Treaty Agreements within three to four years; and
- A mandate development process that is informed by members of each community
III. Mission Statement and Values
A Mission Statement expresses the purpose and business of the organization. It was agreed that the mission of the Main Board and the Local Boards is to:
“Work together to develop strong, healthy, self-sustaining Lake Babine Nation through the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty.”
Values/Guiding Principles are intended to support the Mission Statement and to be used as longer term objectives in treaty negotiations. The Values/Guiding Principles that were discussed in detail include:
- Acknowledging the strength in the five Lake Babine communities working together;
- Respect for differences between the individual communities;
- Recognition and respect for our territories;
- Cherishing our common language, history and traditions;
- Respect for our elders;
- Protecting our children and future generations;
- A commitment to resolve our differences through an agreed to dispute resolution process;
- Enhancing and protecting our political, social economic and territorial rights;
- Working towards self-government and greater self-determination in a manner that respects the will of the people through democratic principles and respects the traditional system of governance;
- Entrenching our rights to food, clothing, shelter, health and education;
- Enhancing and protecting our existing Aboriginal rights and the future rights of the Lake Babine Nation.
IV. Organization History and Structure
Subsequent to formally filing a Statement of Intent with the British Columbia Treaty Commission, the Lake Babine Nation concluded a Framework Agreement with Canada and British Columbia with the intent of concluding a Final Agreement. The Framework Agreement was originally signed on ___________. A Mandate Statement document has served as basis for individual community mandates. The collective goal has been the conclusion of treaty negotiations under the British Columbia Treaty Process.
The Lake Babine Nation, through the Local Boards and the Main Boards has not formally adopted a strategic plan for treaty negotiations, but there have been several planning sessions. As a result of the planning session a structure has been agreed to whereby the responsibility of treaty negotiations rests with the Lake Babine Treaty Board. The Lake Babine Treaty Board consists of the Main Board and the Local Boards. The Main Board has one representative from each of, but not limited to Woyenne, Old Fort, Tachet, Donald’s Landing and Fort Babine. Each of the communities of the Lake Babine Nation has its own Local Board. The structure, representation, selection process and organization of the local boards differs from community to community.
The Lake Babine Treaty Board does not negotiate treaties. Treaty negotiations are conducted by the Chief Negotiator, assisted by community negotiators. The Chief Negotiator reports to the Treaty Board for treaty negotiation purposes.
The Chief and Council of the Lake Babine Nation are not directly involved with treaty negotiations. Authority for treaty negotiations rests with the Lake Babine Treaty Board.
V. Core Treaty Strategies
The core treaty strategies are the heart of the Strategic Plan. Setting the priorities involves reviewing the critical issues, assessing these issues against the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and the opportunities and challenges that exist (see Appendix). The critical issues and core strategies are also screened through the lens of the Mission Statement and the Values that support the Mission Statement. Once the critical issues are reviewed and priorized, strategies and operational priorities are developed to address the issues. The operational priorities will then serve as the framework for operational plans that will need to be developed by the Lake Babine Treaty Board. Below is a list of the critical issues that were identified in the planning session, strategies that were agreed to, and operational priorities that have been identified.
Almost all participants identified “communications” as the key issue that needs to be addressed if a successful treaty outcome is to be achieved. Various aspects of communications were identified including internal communications to individual members and between the communities as well as between the LBN Council and the communities.
Improve communications within the individual communities and between the communities and with the LBN Council to generate support for treaty negotiations and to inform community members. To begin with, the focus should be on internal communities.
- Develop a communications plan that includes informing members of the individual communities of treaty negotiations through the following mechanisms:
- Creation of Communications Committee to be responsible for drafting and implementing a communications plan. Responsibility to do this with is with the Treaty Manager.
- Newsletter - a single newsletter/update sent out from the Treaty Manager and distributed by the individual communities
- Website - establish a single low maintenance Webpage for Lake Babine Nation Treaty Negotiations
- Workshops in communities re treaty process or Treaty Days
- Have one day at LBN General Assembly on treaties
- Use plain language so people understand
- Communications Committee to prepare budget for implementation of the plan (e.g. costs of newsletter, websites etc.)
b) Engaging BC in Treaty Negotiations
Because of our past track record, British Columbia will not easily come to the table and engage in treaty negotiations. In addition, BC has limited resources available and the Lake Babine Nation treaty table is not a priority for the Province
Develop a plan that will provide confidence in British Columbia with respect to the Lake Babine Nation’s ability to conduct negotiations and to generate support within the community.
- Engage Chief Negotiator/Treaty Manager
- Set Treaty Priorities and Time frame
- Use BCTC to help bring BC to the table
- Clarify roles and responsibilities of communities and LBN Council
- Demonstrate community support for the negotiating mandate at a General Assembly
- Set date for first tri-partite meeting (Probably sometime in late summer or early fall)
c) Management Structure
The Lake Babine Nation is beginning the process of devolving greater autonomy to the communities. This greater autonomy will be reflected in the outcome of treaty negotiations and in any constitution to be developed by the Lake Babine Nation. The management structure of treaty negotiations needs to reflect a sense of greater community autonomy.
The Lake Babine Treaty Board is entrusted with the responsibility for treaty negotiations. The Lake Babine Treaty Board provides a structure, but actual treaty negotiations are the responsibility of the Chief Negotiator with community negotiators who receive instructions from their communities. The Chief Negotiator reports to the Lake Babine Treaty Board. The Chief Negotiator has responsibility for the conduct of negotiations, not the coordination of negotiations or internal management. There is a need for a central coordination function, and this is to be performed by the Treaty Manager. Attendees at the planning session affirmed that:
- Community Treaty Negotiators are appointed through their individual community processes and receive mandates from their communities
- Chief Negotiator leads negotiations and reports to and takes direction from the Lake Babine Treaty Board
- The Treaty Manager reports to the Lake Babine Treaty Board for management purposes and to the Chief Negotiator re the conduct of negotiations
Along with the clarification or roles, there is a need to set out guidelines around the working relationship between the Local Boards, the Main Board and the LBN Council.
Clarify and strengthen the relationship between the individual communities and the LBN Council in order to work collectively on common issues in a manner that recognizes and respects the diversity of each community but builds on the strengths of the Lake Babine Nation.
- Clarification of working relationships between Main Board, Local Boards and LBN Council by completion of the Relationship Document
- Develop Protocol re funding relationships between Main Board and Local Boards
- Develop terms of reference for Main Board and Local Boards
- Have Relationship Doucment approved by membership in individual communities and at a General Assembly
- Begin process of constitutional development that will reflect greater autonomy with Lake Babine communities
- Link the constitutional development process with governance and the governance process that has been agreed to with Indian Affairs.
Negotiations need to be refocused in order to achieve substantive outcomes as opposed to process outcomes. There is a need for a commitment by all parties to fixed time frames (three-four years) for achieving substantive progress towards an Agreement in Principle.
Become results oriented in treaty negotiations through the establishment of clear priorities and benchmarks that provide for the negotiation of an Agreement in Principle within a three to four year period. Focus on a review of Chapters, Governance, Fish and Lands (including land selection and land use planning) and the negotiation of Incremental Treaty Agreements on Fish.
- Get a solid commitment to time frames from BC and Canada (formalize time frames in tri-partite agreement or perhaps through an exchange of letters)
- Develop a treaty work plan for the agreed to timeframes
- Prioritize treaty issues
- Approach to include:
- Review of Chapters
- Focus first on Governance
- Focus on Fish and be ready to complete Incremental Treaty Agreements on Fish
- Individual Communities to do Land Selection and/or Land Use Plans
- Use other AIPs (Maa-nutlh) as a base for other Chapter work in order to expedite negotiations
Time frames include - Substantive progress towards AIP within 3-4 years
Also, need to monitor New Relationship with BC
e) Mandate Development Process
A negotiation mandate has been outlined in the Mandate Statement. The Mandate Statement needs to be reviewed by individual communities. There is a need to affirm mandate to ensure that the BCTC requirements for mandate development have been met and to ensure community support for the mandates.
Strengthen support for the negotiation mandate by providing an opportunity for community members to participate in the mandate development process.
Affirm Mandate Statment through community meetings. May include confirming at a General Assembly:
- Key elements of Strategic Plan (Mission Statement and Values)
- Key elements of Mandate Statement
- Should be done within a reasonable time frame (30-60 days)
- When holding community meetings, need to ensure:
- Notice of meeting
- Opportunity to participate and
- List of attendees
- Also need BCRs re Mandate Statement
- Set up process of ongoing consultation with membership
- Need to ensure involvement of off-reserve members
VI. Next Steps
- Finalize draft Lake Babine Nation Strategic Plan for Treaties
- Complete operational plans, where required
- Ensure mechanism is in place to monitor implementation
- Establish dates for periodic review
- Set a date each year for planning session
Lake Babine Treaty Board Planning Sessions:
SWOT Exercise: identify the “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats” in the environment.
Communities are working together. This enables us to share experiences with each other. The advantages of this arrangement include:
- We have a stronger collective voice.
- We can share problems and solutions.
- We can share resources and expenses.
- We share a common history/understanding of where we come from.
- There is more flexibility in working together.
- Working together, there are many people with many different skills who can contribute to the process
- We share some natural resource areas-and much of our land is still in place, and has not been alienated.
- We are open to other levels of assistance (BC FN Summit, NWTT, etc)
- We have good leadership (i.e. Band Councils, Main Board and Local Board) that support the process, and work well together
- There is much legal and educational support available to us in the process
- Strength in numbers (people) and in size of territory
- Strength in unity of traditional system
- We share a common language, culture
- Working together, we create a large pool of skilled Lake Babine people (leadership, chiefs, negotiators, etc)
- Able to pool our research, intellectual property
- Cost efficiencies
- More political clout, working together
- Amongst the leadership, there is general support in treaty negotiations and processes, including litigation
- Commitment to a direction (negotiation of treaties)
- Sharing of knowledge and experience
- Lack of follow-up and commitment - We often agree to do things, but we have no system in place to ensure compliance with commitments.
- No mechanism in place to make negotiators accountable for deliverables
- Boundary and Territorial Issues (overlaps - both internal and external)
- Mistrust among and between communities and LBN Council
- Lack of faith in own system (traditional system v non-traditional)
- Lack of qualify staff
- Funding (i.e. debt incurred)
- Policy issues - no internal policy development process in place
- Lack of community participation in treaties and mandate development
- Lack of utilization of other resources. There is a need to create a voice at at higher political level (i.e. FN Summit, NWTT)
- Haven’t adapted to free enterprise-lack of resources-inability to gather expertise.
- Physical complexities (geography, transportation, etc…)
- Lack of internal expertise/capacity.
- Coordinating traditional systems with modern governance
- Communications with members
- Same old people leading us with the same old ideas
- Different needs to each community
- Lack of understanding of each other (off-reserve benefits and opportunities)
- Not sharing enough information
- Sometimes individual communities pursue objective without others, or that may hurt other communities
- Lack of understanding of what is in government mandates
- Lack of connection to each other and to the land
- Use of English language is weakening our culture
- Not preparing for change
- Natural Resources opportunities - Forest Range Agreements and participation in the local economy, particularly the forest economy
- Oil and Gas opportunities (Enbridge pipeline and PNG)
- Training and education opportunities for our youth
- Treaty table cost efficiencies
- Interim measures that my be available as a result of treaties
- A large traditional territory full of opportunities
- Options available through Land Management Act./Bill C-20 (Fiscal and Statistical Management Act)
- Political opportunities available with NWTT/Summitt
- Federal election may provide opportunities to revisit mandates
- New Relationship negotiated by the Summit may provide opportunities for a new working relationship with the Province
- Court decisions in recent years have been positive
- The creation of the Lake Babine Treaty Board and the desire to work together in a renewed relationship
- Federal/Provincial natural resources policies re our lands and resources (Crown dispositions) eg. Continuous alienation of lands for commercial, recreational and industrial purposes
- Tax and Fiscal policies in the treaty negotiations will make treaties unworkable
- Loss of rights through unilateral acts of governments
- Treaty funding-debt incurred could be more than benefits received and is discretionary. We have become dependent on loan funding.
- Change of governments - i.e. elections (including Band Council government)
- Third parties including the environmentalists have different lands and resources interests
- Non-level playing field at the negotiation table.
- Elections that are coming up within LBN and could be destabilizing.
- Other agreements that have been reached that will pre-determine the content of our treaty
- There are threats within our own communities
- Lack of understanding each other Traditional System
- Confusion re treaty process and what we are doing
- Sometimes lack of support by certain members of the community