Sliammon First Nation

Defines the Cost of Doing Business

The Sliammon First Nation is located near Powell River on the Sunshine Coast flanked by the Strait of Georgia to the West and the Coast Mountains to the East. Sliammon has approximately 875 members with 500 living in the village.

Sliammon First Nation first established their Crown Land Referrals Department (SCRLD) as an arm of their treaty research office in 1995. The completion of a Traditional Use Study (TUS) and establishment of a TUS database by the Sliammon Treaty Society (STS) laid the necessary groundwork for Sliammon involvement in the Crown Land Referrals process. Maynard Harry the SCLRD Manager recognised: “With the TUS complete and the GIS department established we recognized that this information needed to be employed.” The TUS database is an integral element to Sliammon’s participation in the Crown Land Referrals process, as it provides Sliammon with a good baseline of information to meaningfully respond to a referral.

The department broke away from the treaty umbrella in late 1999 when Sliammon identified Crown Land Referrals as a Nation issue to be dealt with by Band administration. Sliammon recognized that responding to referrals was draining valuable financial and human resources from the treaty society. The STS was borrowing money to negotiate a treaty not to respond to referrals.

In moving the SCLRD out of the STS the issue of how to finance the newly independent office became the central problem. Sliammon adopted a two pronged approach to address the immediate financial concern: 1) They negotiated $40,000 of financing from the Ministry of Forests to build infrastructure and support operations and, 2) They adopted a user-pay system. Under the user-pay system, proponents of development on Sliammon traditional territory pay the SCLRD $650 per day administration costs as well as a $375sr./ $150 jr. fieldworker fees to conduct field reconnaissance. It took Sliammon two years of negotiations to achieve a user pay system, and now nearly every forestry company and government agency that Sliammon works with has signed a servicing agreement. Sliammon defines this as the cost of doing business. (sample service agreement)

The SCLRD (now called the Sliammon Crown Land and Resources Referrals Department) has evolved greatly over the past 5 years. In the early day of the process Maynard recalls that: “We were just trying to get to the table, to make contacts, and to slow the process down.” With the adoption of a user pay system Sliammon’s vision had widened: “We need to move out of survival mode and the process of merely reacting to referrals - we are now looking at developing creative solutions that are mutually beneficial as defined by the Delgamuukw decision.”

Copyright © 2002 - Sliammon First Nation & Ecotrust Canada