SSHRC Insight Grant
This project is a comprehensive case study in partnership with Huu-ay-aht First Nations that employs a community-based participatory approach and intends to document, understand, and evaluate their journey to accepting the Treaty, as well as the issues, decision-making processes, and outcomes associated with implementing their Treaty. Since the time of contact with Europeans, Nuu-chah-nulth peoples on Vancouver Island have never ceded authority over their territory – until now. After 18 years of formal negotiations, the Maa-nulth Treaty went into effect in 2011. This treaty – involving five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, the British Columbia government, and the federal government – includes self-governance provisions, law-making authority, and rights to natural resources. Now ratified, the task becomes treaty implementation – the process of replacing the colonial laws and policies of the federal Indian Act with culturally relevant self-government. This is no simple task, especially given that treaty negotiation/implementation has received significant criticism from all parties and their observers. In short, the goal of this research is to elucidate insight into the complex and unanswered ‘Indian Land Question’ (who ‘owns’ the land) as well as the societal challenges associated with the fractured Indigenous-settler relationship in Canada. Given this, the research has four objectives: 1) situate the Treaty within the broader historical, socio-political, geographical, economical, and cultural context; 2) document and understand how Treaty negotiators express and differentiate the complex negotiation process; 3) investigate the issues, challenges, and opportunities with implementing the Treaty at multiple scales; and 4) monitor and evaluate the research in terms of community empowerment, ownership, and control.