Over the past year, we’ve shared weekly stories of First Nations collaboration with local governments. While focused on MTSAs, these stories cover a broad range of topics related to work between First Nations and municipalities. Cooperation and partnerships can bring many rewards, but also come with challenges. We’ve rounded up four of our favourite stories of the past year.
Service agreements can support strong partnerships. This is definitely true in the case of Westbank First Nation and West Kelowna. In 2016, the two governments renewed their fire agreement for another 15 years. Long-term agreements provide benefits to both parties, including peace-of-mind that a service will be provided over the long term, sharing costs, building trust, and offering mutual support.
Fires are unpredictable and can spread quickly. A strong fire agreement is about more than service delivery. As Mayor Findlater said, “West Kelowna’s fire protection is enhanced through planning, training, and coordination with WFN [Westbank First Nation], particularly on forest fires, which don’t recognize boundaries.”.
In 2016, Tla’amin First Nation became a self-governing nation. The provisions of the new treaty included a larger land base, funding, and a number of economic development opportunities. The First Nation’s long-term goals are closely tied to its collaboration with its closest neighbour, the City of Powell River.
Tla’amin First Nation and the City of Powell River have a strong working relationship, but it wasn’t always this way. More than 15 years ago, a dispute arose after the City work on a sea walk damaged Tla’amin heritage sites. However, rather than pushing the two apart, this conflict prompted the two governments to starting talking and begin working together as partners in developing the sea walk. In 2003, Tla’amin First Nation and the City of Powell River signed a community accord. They have been working together every since.
Urban reserves have been in the news frequently over the past year. Stories of First Nations working towards developing urban reserves popped up all over Canada, including Rolling River First Nation in Headingley, Manitoba and Kawacatoose First Nation in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In Western Canada, Enoch First Nation recently reached a milestone, signing an agreement with the City of Edmonton to work together over the long term. The agreement is a commitment of leadership within Enoch First Nation and the City of Edmonton to meet at least once a year and collaborate on a joint working group. This brings the First Nation closer to achieving its goal of purchasing City land for to develop an urban reserve.
2017 has been declared a year of reconciliation. Municipalities across the country are making efforts to build bridges with their neighbouring First Nations. Recently, the City of Markham signed a partnership accord with Eabametoong First Nation. The agreement promotes social, cultural, and economic collaboration between the First Nation and local government.
Collaboration between First Nations and local governments takes many forms. The stories highlighted in this blog show just a glimpse into the many ways that communities can work together.
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