Kwadacha First Nation votes yes for historic agreement
VICTORIA – The Kwadacha First Nation has ratified a Final Agreement with BC Hydro and the Province that addresses historic damages from the creation and operation of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Williston Reservoir and builds opportunities for community economic and cultural development for future generations.
Kwadacha members voted positively with 95 per cent of the ballots cast voting in favour of the Final Agreement.
"I congratulate Chief Donny Van Somer and members of the Kwadacha First Nation on this successful vote. They will benefit from this decision as will their grandchildren and grandchildren's children," said Mike de Jong, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. "This agreement is significant not only because it builds reconciliation of past grievance; it also looks to the future by providing employment and economic opportunities for members of the Kwadacha First Nation to build their community. It's an example of how the New Relationship is resulting in meaningful and positive change for First Nations communities."
"The ratification of this agreement is a significant milestone for BC Hydro, which has spent many years working closely with the Kwadacha First Nation to establish a relationship based on mutual respect and trust," said Bob Elton, president and CEO of BC Hydro. "This settlement will provide certainty for the ongoing operations of BC Hydro's generation facilities in the Peace Canyon, while at the same time addressing long-standing grievances of the Kwadacha First Nation, who were negatively affected by the creation and operation of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and Williston Reservoir."
The Province, BC Hydro and Kwadacha First Nation have been negotiating the Final Agreement since December 2006, when an Agreement in Principle was signed.
"This agreement is a cooperative understanding between the Kwadacha, BC Hydro and the Province," Van Somer said. "Despite the challenges we have faced for the past 40 years, the Kwadacha will now move forward with improved relationships and the ability to focus on our community needs and priorities for the future."
The Final Agreement provides benefits including a one time payment of approximately $15 million to the Kwadacha First Nation and annual payments of approximately $1.6 million, with future adjustments for inflation. Most of the initial payment will establish an Endowment Fund that will be managed by investment professionals, offering Kwadacha First Nation the opportunity for financial returns in the future. The agreement also provides Kwadacha with business and employment opportunities and will ensure that they are informed about BC Hydro facilities and operations that could affect them.
The Kwadacha First Nation filed a lawsuit against B.C., Canada and BC Hydro in 2001, claiming damages from the impact of the construction and operation of BC Hydro's W.A.C Bennett Dam and the Williston Reservoir. With the ratification vote complete, litigation against the Province and BC Hydro is settled. The final agreement also provides certainty for the future operation of BC Hydro's facilities and ensures a mutually beneficial relationship between BC Hydro and the First Nation in the years ahead.
Plans are underway for a celebration event between the Province, BC Hydro and the Kwadacha community to formally mark the significance of this important agreement.
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 953 3211 (office)
250 361 7720 (cell)
Manager, Media Relations
604 623 4220 (office)
604 418 4782 (cell)
Source: BC Hydro News