Shuswap Communities Explore Governance Together
Four Shuswap Communities Explore Ways to Work Together to Implement their Right to Self-Governance
Soda Creek, BC — The four Shuswap communities that make up the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council (NSTC), are seeking ways to work together to implement their right to self-governance. They are located in the interior of British Columbia.
The communities are the Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake Band), Xat’sull. Cm’etem (Soda Creek/Deep Creek Band), T’exelc (Williams Lake Band), and Stswecem’c/Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek Band/Dog Creek Band).
The National Centre for First Nations Governance was invited to support their efforts by providing a two-day discussion about constitution development and experiences under treaty.
Participants learned that effective constitutions emerge from the particular history and circumstances that have influenced their development - what Stephen Cornell of Arizona’s Native Nations Institute describes as a “cultural match.”
Participants were interested in successful Nations such as Westbank and Nisga’a, as well as communities who are currently developing constitutions like Miapukek in Newfoundland. People learned that it takes time for a constitution to emerge and this evolution can allow a First Nation to experiment and test certain institutional mechanisms to finally arrive at what works for a community. This process can enable communities to define for themselves who their members are, what their structure of governance should be, and how it should operate.
The Centre gave a presentation on best practices in treaty implementation. This included strategic planning, building internal capacity for policy development, ratification planning, and human resource planning. The Centre provides a number of services in these areas.
Participants asked many questions on how a treaty might affect their daily lives and learned from the experiences of Nations who have already implemented treaties.
These four communities have already established an effective collegial process of sharing and cooperation between Tribal Council and the four band administrators. It allows for sharing of policies, procedures and processes to develop common standards. Yet the process still respects the autonomy of each community to develop mechanisms to meet the particular needs of that community.
From the Centre’s perspective, this will go a long way to support their efforts at working together in governance in the future.