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On Friday, the province signed a new land transfer agreement that will see 20,000 hectares of waterfront and prime forestry lands given back to a BC First Nation.
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Murphy Abraham, chief of Lake Babine Nation, signed the agreement that recognizes and implements the nation’s right and title to the land in their territory.
“This is just the beginning,” said Abraham.
“Our ancestors fought hard to protect our territory, and the land transfer agreement is the first step in bringing these lands back to Lake Babine control and decision-making.”
Abraham called the agreement a historic moment for his First Nation, which has over 2,500 registered members making it one of the largest bands in BC.
In addition, the agreement will enable the Lake Babine Nation to expand its forestry business and provide economic opportunities in the region.
This latest land transfer agreement stems from the Foundation Agreement that was signed between the federal government, Lake Babine Nation and the province in September 2020.
The Foundation Agreement is designed to provide a step-by-step guide for how the three parties will work together to implement Lake Babine self-governance, title and other rights.
Moreover, the agreement is meant to boost economic development for the First Nation which is located about 220 kilometres west of Prince George, off Highway 16.
“Through the Foundation Agreement we are moving into a new relationship that fosters transformative change toward self-government, makes a real difference on the ground for Lake Babine Nation members and brings stability and prosperity to everyone in the region,” said Rankin.
In addition, the province accelerated payments of $22 million to Lake Babine Nation under the Foundation Agreement to help with economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.