The B.C. government and Tsilhqot’in Nation have signed a moose management agreement.
Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chairman Chief Joe Alphonse said they are happy the government took the steps it did and confirmed they will not attempt to ban the limited-entry moose hunt this fall as a result.
“We had three other years where we’ve tried to work with the province and haven’t got anywhere,” Alphonse told the Tribune Friday, adding when they announced a moose hunt ban and eventually deactivated roads in the Chilcotin it was to get the government’s attention.
“We had to take things to that extreme. It had to happen. We will adhere to the regulations for this year, but with the understanding that next year it will be a joint management effort.”
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Doug Donaldson told the Tribune Friday he is very pleased with the moose management agreement.
“It’s the right step and it’s about time. It took about 10 days to get where we are at now, but we have been in discussions about moose management for about six weeks to two months.”
When asked if the government had tried to enter into this type of agreement before, Donaldson said the Tsilhqot’in rights and title decision came down in 2014 and it’s taken four years.
“I’m just happy to be part of a government to have been able to accelerate this aspect of the Nenqay Deni Accord that was signed two years ago. This is the kind of agreement that should be flowing out of the decision that was made four years ago and the accord made two years ago,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson said staff from the regional office played a critical role in reaching the agreement.
“They did a lot of work on the approach to this over the last couple of months, and especially in the last 10 days they’ve worked tirelessly.”
In a joint press release the TNG and province said the agreement will:
Guide the establishment of a government-to-government shared decision-making process to co-manage wildlife in a manner that incorporates the parties’ respective decision-making responsibilities, interests, values, roles and responsibilities.
Result in a co-developed and co-hosted moose roundtable workshop with the goal of bringing representatives of neighbouring Indigenous nations and stakeholders who wish to constructively engage in finding solutions to the moose decline in the region.
Set the foundations to work together to promote timber harvesting and forest management practices that restore and enhance moose habitat and address interactions with other wildlife species.
“These are things we have been wanting to address with government that we have been pushing for,” Alphonse said. “We spent a lot of financial resources to get to the Supreme Court of Canada to become the only Indigenous Nation anywhere in the world to have title. We are part of the solution now and things won’t happen unless we are a part of it.”
Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross, TNG vice-chair of the TNG said, “This is a rocky road to reconciliation. We are going through conflict right now and trying to seek solutions.”
Myers Ross said the First Nations acknowledge there are many interests in the moose population in the region, but at the end of the day they want to make sure their food sources are secure for the future.
“We appreciate the minister’s commitment to have a respectful resolution for next year. This next phase of work will be critical if we are going to achieve that goal. Now the real work begins.”
Donaldson said the government has already received some positive feedback on the agreement from non-First Nations groups.
“The actual co-development and co-hosting a round table on moose with all interested stakeholder groups is going to be a really positive first step and is something the Tsilhqo’tin were advocating for. I think that’s a really positive approach on their part.”