More than 65 years after its lands were flooded to make way for the creation of the Nechako Reservoir, the Cheslatta Carrier Nation has signed agreements with the Province of British Columbia that provide restitution and redress for impacts suffered by the community and its peoples.
In 1952, community members from Cheslatta Carrier Nation were evicted from their homes on two weeks’ notice and forcibly resettled outside their traditional lands. Their lands, villages, cultural, and spiritual sites were then flooded as the newly built Kenney Dam filled what is now known as the Nechako Reservoir.
At a private ceremony in Victoria, Chief Corrina Leween and Councillors Ted Jack and Hazel Burt of Cheslatta Carrier Nation, along with Scott Fraser, minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation, signed a Settlement Agreement and an Interim Reconciliation Agreement. Together, these agreements will provide the Cheslatta Carrier Nation with funding and lands to create a base for future community, social and economic development.
“This historic agreement with the Province of B.C. will help address long-standing issues that have adversely impacted our traditional territory since the construction of the Kenney Dam and creation of the Nechako Reservoir. For 67 years, the Cheslatta people have worked tirelessly to achieve resolution and reconciliation to this historic wrong,” said Chief Corrina Leween of Cheslatta Carrier Nation. “This agreement honours the justice our ancestors and previous leadership spent their lives fighting for. Now, we are positioned to begin the healing process and to advance the social and economic standing of our people for generations to come.”
Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Cheslatta Carrier Nation will propose certain lands for transfer and tenures. A period of extensive engagement with neighbouring First Nations and stakeholders will proceed before final land parcels can be determined.
“Reconciliation demands we reckon with the truth of our shared history and address the past. The devastation experienced by the Cheslatta people 67 years ago continues to this day,” said Scott Fraser, minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation. “We are committed to doing what we can to redress this wrong. The Settlement Agreements provide the Cheslatta community with lands, funding and support for community healing.”
Community support for a final settlement has been strong, with unanimous endorsement of the Settlement Agreement from Cheslatta Carrier Nation voters in a ratification process concluded on March 14, 2019. Cheslatta Carrier Nation has requested that terms of the agreement remain confidential for one year pending their negotiations with other parties.