In British Columbia, there are Historic and Modern Treaties. Treaties signed between the 1700s and the early 1920s are referred to as “Historic Treaties,” including the 14 Douglas Treaties on Vancouver Island and Treaty 8. “Modern Treaties” refer to treaties signed beginning in the 1970s and into the present day. There are eight Modern Treaties in British Columbia, in addition to a growing number of incremental Self-Government Agreements negotiated within and outside the treaty process.
The history of treaty-making in British Columbia and Indigenous-led processes for the recognition of rights and title is vast. Past and contemporary examples of direct action and numerous landmark court cases have established a legal and political landscape affirming Indigenous (Aboriginal) rights and title, as well as Crown (the Governments of British Columbia and Canada) responsibilities and obligations to address these rights.
The Calder case paved the way for Indigenous title and rights recognition in Canada, and was a key milestone affirming Nisga’a Nation self-governance. The Nisga’a Final Agreement (Nisga’a Treaty), which came into effect in 2000, was the first Modern Treaty in BC, and the first Modern Treaty to include self-government provisions in Canada. Since then, seven other First Nations have become self-governing through Modern Treaties negotiated in the made-in-BC negotiations process of the British Columbia Treaty Commission. Treaty-making in BC continues, and there are currently 17 First Nations engaged in negotiations to finalize treaties and become self-governing Nations.