The Ktunaxa Nation is another step forward in the treaty negotiation process with the Provincial and Federal governments. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed which will guide the three parties in the development of a rights recognition approach. Kathryn Teneese, chief negotiator and chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, outlines their hopes for the treaty which she says is the next stage in the process.

“The important part of it from our perspective is that we find definition to those rights and we move forward in a way that’s going to be future looking but not necessarily leaving some of the past elements off the table.”

She explains that the hope is to achieve a living agreement that would define the relationship between the three parties and could continue to evolve as circumstances change.

The process has been underway now since 1993, but a change in approach has helped things move forward, according to Teneese. She says previously an agreement in principal had to be signed off on before moving onto the next step.

“We had indicated that we did not think that the agreement in principal, such that it was, was really reflective of where it is that we wanted to go. So, we moved forward on having some discussions around the development of what we’re calling a core treaty based on rights recognition.”

She explains that’s what the MOU is doing – it’s an agreement on the path forward that’s going to be taken.

Although there is movement, it may still be a few years until the treaty is finalized and Teneese says there’s a lot more work ahead.

“We’ve been working together in a collaborative way to set out what our approach is going to be and obviously now we need to get to the rolling up our sleeves place and sort of putting some definition to what we’ve agreed as the scope and you know, as I’ve been told, now the hard work beings.”

There’s also a role that local governments outside the Ktunaxa Nation will play as city councils assign representatives to the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Advisory Committee which ensures their interests are addressed if necessary. Teneese highlights that the Ktunaxa Nation does have a connection to places outside of its existing communities and says respective interests must be given consideration. She encourages anyone to reach out if they have questions about the negotiation process or want to learn more.

The Ktunaxa Nation website states that theKtunaxa (pronounced ‘k-too-nah-ha’) people have occupied the lands adjacent to the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers and the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia, Canada for more than 10,000 years. The Traditional Territory of the Ktunaxa Nation covers approximately 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles) within the Kootenay region of south-eastern British Columbia and historically included parts of Alberta, Montana, Washington and Idaho.

For more details on the treaty process from the Government of BC website, click here.