The Province and Lake Babine Nation are taking the next step in the journey to recognize and implement the Nation’s rights and title through the signing of a new land transfer agreement.
The agreement will enable Lake Babine Nation to take back control of 20,000 hectares of waterfront and prime forestry lands in their territory.
The Lake Babine Foundation Agreement committed the Province to transfer 20,000 hectares of Crown land to the Nation in fee simple. This transfer of lands will enable the Nation to expand its forestry business and drive economic opportunity in the regional economy.
“This is just the beginning,” said Lake Babine Nation Chief Murphy Abraham. “Our ancestors fought hard to protect our territory, and the land transfer agreement is the first step in bringing these lands back to Lake Babine control and decision-making. This is a historic moment for us, and I look forward to expanding our land base as we negotiate additional parcels.”
The Foundation Agreement was signed by Canada, Lake Babine Nation and the Province in September 2020. It is a roadmap for reconciliation, providing a step-by-step guide for how the Nation and the provincial and federal governments will work together in a phased approach to implement Lake Babine self-governance, title and other rights, boost economic development, collaborate on major land and resource decisions, and promote community health and well-being.
The Foundation Agreement offers an innovative new model for future agreements in B.C. and is a concrete example of how the Province and Canada are working with First Nations to put the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into practice.
“The signing of the Lake Babine Lands Transfer Agreement is a significant step toward the implementation of Lake Babine Nation’s Aboriginal title – a key objective of the historic Foundation Agreement,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Through the Foundation Agreement we are moving into a new relationship that fosters transformative change toward self-government, makes a real difference on the ground for Lake Babine Nation members and brings stability and prosperity to everyone in the region.”
Since signing the Foundation Agreement, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has completed First Nation engagement with respect to the proposed Crown lands to be transferred to Lake Babine. This has included letters, information sessions, open houses and one-on-one meetings with First Nations, neighbouring property owners, tenure holders, local governments and others. Throughout the process, Lake Babine Nation and the ministry have made adjustments to the parcels based on feedback received.
- In 2021, the Province accelerated payments of $22 million to Lake Babine Nation under the Foundation Agreement to help with economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Lake Babine Nation is comprised of Old Fort, Tachet, Fort Babine, Woyenne and Donald’s Landing communities, with more than 2,500 citizens.