Kaska are an aboriginal people of Canada within the meaning of s. 35(1) of the Constitution Act 1982, and an Indigenous people within the meaning of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Kaska Nation has Aboriginal rights, including title, within the Kaska Traditional Territory, which includes lands in British Columbia, Yukon, and Northwest Territories.

Kaska Dena Council submitted a Statement of Claim to the Federal Government in 1982 and is currently negotiating with BC and Canada under the BC Treaty Process. For a historical timeline of our Treaty negotiations, click here.

Long before European settlement and the imposition of European laws and ideas on Indigenous culture, Kaska Dena were a self-governing First Nation. Our own laws, culture, and way of life prevailed.

With the imposition of the Indian Act, our self-governing ways were taken away, but we have never lost our inherent right to self-governance. We want certainty over our lands and resources and we want to regain the ability to make decisions for ourselves – to create a better future for our children and their children.

As a First Nation with a modern treaty, we would be self-governing and would have a constitution and a range of law-making authorities, providing programs and services to Kaska citizens according to our values and needs. Our Kaska Land Model would provide for a Government to Government relationship on lands within Kaska Dena Traditional Territory.

The BC Treaty Process is a Six Stage Process

Stage 1

Statement of Intent to Negotiate

A First Nation files with the Treaty Commission a statement of intent (SOI) to negotiate a treaty with Canada and BC. The SOI must identify the First Nation’s governing body for treaty purposes and the people that body represents and show that the governing body has a mandate from those people to enter the process. The SOI must describe the geographic area of the First Nation’s distinct traditional territory and identify any overlaps with other First Nations.

KDC STATEMENT OF INTENT FILED IN 1987

Stage 2

Readiness to Negotiate

The Treaty Commission must convene an initial meeting of the three parties within 45 days of accepting a statement of intent. For most First Nations, this will be the first occasion on which they sit down at a treaty table with representatives of Canada and BC. This meeting allows the Treaty Commission and the parties to exchange information, consider the criteria for determining the parties’ readiness to negotiate and generally identify issues of concern. The meeting usually takes place in the traditional territory of the First Nation. The three parties must demonstrate that they have a commitment to negotiate, a qualified negotiator, sufficient resources, a mandate and a process to develop that mandate and ratification procedures. The First Nation must have begun addressing any overlaps. The governments of Canada and BC must have a formal means of consulting with third parties, including local governments and interest groups. When the three parties have everything in place, the Treaty Commission will declare the table ready to begin negotiating a framework agreement.

Stage 3

Negotiation of a Framework Agreement

The framework agreement is, in effect, the “table of contents” of a comprehensive treaty. The three parties agree on the subjects to be negotiated and an estimated time frame for stage four agreement-in-principle negotiations. Canada and BC engage in public consultation at the regional and local levels. A municipal representative sits on the provincial negotiation team at each treaty table.

Current Stage

Stage 4:

Negotiation of an Agreement in Principle

This is where substantive treaty negotiations begin. The three parties examine in detail the elements outlined in their framework agreement. The goal is to reach agreement on each of the topics that will form the basis of the treaty. These agreements will identify and define a range of rights and obligations, including: existing and future interests in land, sea and resources; structures and authorities of government; relationship of laws; regulatory processes; amending processes; dispute resolution; financial component; fiscal relations and so on. The agreement in principle also lays the groundwork for implementation of the treaty.

Stage 5:

Negotiation of Final Agreement

The treaty formalizes the new relationship among the parties and embodies the agreements reached in the agreement in principle. Technical and legal issues are resolved at this stage. A treaty is a unique constitutional instrument to be signed and formally ratified at the conclusion of Stage 5.

Stage 6:

Implementation of the Treaty

Long-term implementation plans need to be tailored to specific agreements. The plans to implement the treaty are put into effect or phased in as agreed. With time, all aspects of the treaty will be realized and with continuing goodwill, commitment and effort by all parties, the new relationship will come to maturity.