The B.C. treaty process is open to all First Nations in B.C. and the majority (60%) are currently at the treaty table. Those First Nations that are not currently in the treaty process may choose to enter or re-enter at a future date. First Nations outside the treaty process may also engage government in negotiations about land and resource use within their traditional territories.
The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and other provincial government ministries have discussions on a wide range of topics with First Nations that are outside the treaty process. In many cases discussions are informal so the level of interaction varies according to specific situations and needs.
They might be about:
- building relationships with First Nations,
- resolving conflicts
- addressing concerns associated with asserted traditional territory.
Interaction with First Nations outside the treaty process also involves coordinating discussions with government representatives, and providing advice to provincial government line agencies on issues related to operations and/or corporate direction. Aboriginal concerns that are the responsibility of other government ministries are addressed through the individual ministry.
In addition, discussions related to the New Relationship are proceeding. Topics at these New Relationship discussions include:
- a new government-to-government relationship with First Nations, including new processes and structures for coordination
- working together to make decisions about the use of land and resources
- revenue-sharing to reflect Aboriginal rights and title interests and to assist First Nations with economic development
- scenarios under which these concepts could be made to work.
Certain types of claims are being negotiated outside of the treaty process. For example, cut-off claims by First Nations - the direct result of lands being removed from, or cut off of, Indian reserves in British Columbia in the early days of European settlement - were settled on November 4, 2008 .
Specific claims were based on the alleged failure of Canada or British Columbia to meet either the terms of an existing agreement, or in the case of Canada, a fiduciary or legal obligation of one party to act in the best interests of another.
First Nations both inside and outside the treaty process also work with ministries across government to address operational, heritage, language, culture and social concerns.