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Lake Babine Nation signs deal with Ottawa and British Columbia

Last Updated Sep 18, 2020 at 5:24 pm EDT

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett takes her seat as she wait to appear before the Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee in Ottawa on March 10, 2020. An agreement that Indigenous leaders say will "provide prosperity and self-governance" was signed Friday between a British Columbia First Nation, the federal and provincial governments. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

VICTORIA — The British Columbia and federal governments have signed an agreement with the Lake Babine Nation that Chief Gordon Alec says will help lead to its prosperity.

Alec says the agreement is an important step towards having more control over the development of natural resources.

He says the First Nation wants to create the right relationship with the forest industry and local government.

The Lake Babine Nation owns one of the largest forestry businesses in its territory operating on land it owns as well as Crown land.

Alex says the agreement also outlines how the three levels of government will work together to enact the First Nation’s rights and title over its territory in central B.C.

Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the 20-year agreement commits the three parties to the promotion of the First Nation’s social and community well-being as well as its economic growth.

Scott Fraser, B.C.’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, says the First Nation can be a central pillar in the forestry sector, and its partnership will lead to more jobs and economic growth in the area.

In a news release, the three parties say the agreement provides immediate land and financial benefits worth about $200 million, and sets up negotiations on agreements affecting self-government and Aboriginal title.

The financial benefits break down into $43 million in funding and 20,000 hectares of land that is valued at about $150 million.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press