Celebrating the Tsawwassen Treaty
NCFNG Commends Tsawwassen First Nation in Realizing Self-Government
Tsawwassen, BC - April 3, 2009 NCFNG salutes the achievement of Tsawwassen First Nation (“TFN”) as they celebrated the first official day of self-government on the Effective Date of their Treaty, April 3rd, 2009. TFN is located approximately 25 kms outside of Vancouver, BC. TFN land base is approximately 724 hectares of land (290 are former Reserves); they will receive payments of $33.6 million and annual self-government funding of $2.9 million for the first five years of the Treaty. TFN has constitutional powers to make laws in areas of jurisdiction ordinarily held by federal, provincial and municipal authority.
Representatives of First Nations from across BC gathered in the traditional longhouse of the Tsawwassen people. This setting aptly emphasized that governance under their modern treaty is an evolution of centuries of traditional governance. Multiple generations of TFN participated in the ceremony to commemorate their transition to self-government. Elders carried the Constitution and Laws into the longhouse, followed by a traditional song performed by TFN children. The new logo and flag of TFN was also unveiled, an eagle in flight, which is to represent a fearless and confident people moving forward with strength.
Chief Kim Baird began her celebratory remarks by noting, “The Indian Act no longer applies to TFN”. She acknowledged the long journey of her people to reach this landmark and recognized that decolonization was often a painful process. With great emotion she dedicated the day to the ancestors and stated TFN looks forward to future generations who will be born under the freedom of self-government.
As their initial proceeding, TFN Legislature made an official declaration that included this excerpt:
Today, the Tsawwassen Government will enact a suite of contemporary laws fundamentally based on traditional laws and principles carried through each generation. By enacting Tsawwassen Laws, we reaffirm these traditional principles and transmit them to subsequent generations in a manner that has relevance in modern society.
Traditional practices and sacred ceremonies directed governance functions in our longhouse. Today, our traditional government and institutions evolve into the establishment of the Tsawwassen Government. Historically, our leaders were responsible to the People and acknowledged and considered their voices on all important matters. These traditional principles and institutions are reflected in the Tsawwassen Constitution Act and the Government Organization Act.
TFN then publicly held the inaugural session of the Legislature and enacted their Constitution Act and 22 laws that will provide for the substantive exercise of self-government. These powers include matters related to government functions, financial administration, land and resource management, community safety and security, education, children and families, economic development, and the preservation of their culture.
Tsawwassen acknowledged NCFNG for their collaboration with TFN during their law-making project in recent months. Michele Guerin (BC Regional Manager) participated on the Legislative Review Committee and Anisa White (Research Officer) was seconded to work with the TFN team of policy analysts. Chief Baird invited NCFNG to participate in their law and policy development project with the intent to equip NCFNG to assist other First Nations in this area of work in the future. NCFNG profiled TFN as demonstrating a best practice in law-making in the recently released “Governance Best Practice Report”.
BC Premier Gordon Campbell and Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl acknowledged the determination of the Tsawwassen people and recognized the leadership of Chief Kim Baird in realizing this historic day.