Aboriginal interest

A term used in this document to refer to claimed but as yet unproven Aboriginal rights, including title that require consultation and, if appropriate, accommodation. This term may also be used in a general sense to refer to claimed and proven rights in some contexts.

Aboriginal people

All indigenous people of Canada, including Indians (status and non-status), Métis, and Inuit people.

Aboriginal right

Practices, customs or traditions integral to the distinctive culture of the First Nation claiming the right prior to European settlement. Examples may include hunting, fishing and gathering.

Aboriginal title

A subcategory of Aboriginal rights that is a unique interest in land that includes a right to exclusive use and occupation. A claimant must prove its exclusive occupation of land as of the date that the Crown asserted sovereignty (1846).


When used in connection with treaty lands, the term refers to the rights non-beneficiaries have to cross or be on treaty lands.


Accommodation refers to mitigating the impact of decisions. Accommodation is determined through the consultation process and must balance the Aboriginal interest with other interests.


A law passed by a federal or provincial parliament.

Agreement in Principle (AIP)

The document produced in the fourth stage of the six-stage treaty process. The AIP outlines the major points of agreement between the three negotiating parties and forms the foundation for final treaty negotiations.

Area of Interest (AOI)

Areas that have been marked as potential land to be included in the ongoing Treaty negotiations.


An organizational structure defined in the Indian Act which represents a particular body of Indians as defined in the Indian Act. Bands are quasi legal entities that are instruments of the Indian Act. There are more than 200 bands with reserves in British Columbia. First Nations with a modern treaty are no longer organized into bands and administered by a band council. They are nations with their own self-governance systems and no longer administered under the Indian Act. Be respectful of the correct governance system.

Band Council Resolution

A resolution is the official expression of a Band Council decision. Chiefs and Councils are elected by band members to govern the band and pass laws on Indian reserve lands.


A person who is eligible to gain benefits from a treaty.

British Columbia Treaty Commission (BCTC)

An independent body of five commissioners appointed by Canada, the Province and the First Nations Summit. It oversees the process for negotiating treaties in British Columbia. Not all First Nations are negotiating treaties with the Province and Canada. Approximately 60 percent of eligible First Nations are participating in the BCTC process.


The development of human, technical and financial resources in First Nation communities. For example, some First Nations may require capacity building to respond to provincial requests for consultation concerning aboriginal rights or to carry out the authorities that they will assume under treaty.

Certainty provisions

Treaty provisions designed to clearly define the authorities, rights and responsibilities of all three parties to the treaty.

Chief and Council

Chiefs and Councils are elected by band members to govern the band and pass laws on Indian reserve lands. They are elected according to provisions of the Indian Act, charged with the responsibility for “the good government of the band” and delegated the authority to pass by-laws on Indian reserve lands.

Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA)

The Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) is a federal process that allows large corporations to restructure their financial affairs to avoid bankruptcy and allow creditors to receive some form of payment for amounts owing to them by the company.

Cooperative management

Arrangements made between the Province and First Nations to involve First Nations in provincial land and resource management processes.


Refers to the provincial or federal government generally, and in this document refers to the provincial government including departments, ministries and Crown agencies and includes all government employees that are doing the work of the B.C. government.

Crown land

Land or an interest in land, owned by Canada or the Province. Almost all crown land in BC is owned by the Province.


Entitlement to treaty benefits.

Fee simple

Land holding commonly characterized as private ownership and the way most private land is held in Canada. Usually only includes the surface.

Financial transfer arrangements

Arrangements made in treaties for funding First Nation governments. The fiscal arrangements among each First Nation, Canada and British Columbia identify the revenue sources available to the First Nation government for carrying out its governance responsibilities and determine whether, and to what extent, Canada and the Province contribute to those revenues.

First Nation

A term that came into common usage in the 1970’s to replace the word “Indian” (an Indian Act term) which some people found offensive. Although the term “First Nation” is widely used, no legal definition of it exists. Among its uses, the term “First Nations peoples” refers to the Indian peoples of Canada, status and non-status. Some Indian Bands have also adopted the term “First Nation” to replace the word “Band” in the name of their community.


The ruling of an area or of a people.


One of three peoples recognized as Aboriginal in the 1982 Constitution along with Inuit and Métis. There are three categories of Indians: status Indian, non-status Indians and Treaty Indians.

Status Indian: A person defined as an Indian under the Indian Act.

Non-status Indian: A person who claims First Nation ancestry but does not meet the criteria for registration, or has chosen not be registered under the Indian Act. The term may also collectively describe all indigenous peoples in Canada; however, this is term that is becoming less common.

Indian Act

Most First Nations in Canada are governed by the Indian Act, a federal statute that determines Aboriginal status and regulates taxation, band membership and land management.

Indigenous people

The international community has not adopted a definition of the term but generally it can refer to peoples descended from the population that inhabited an area at the time of conquest or colonization or the establishment of present State boundaries irrespective of their legal status.

First Nation or Aboriginal peoples are indigenous to North America. This term is used by the United Nations and is gaining acceptance among First Nations and scholars. (Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, United Nations Development Group)


Having control that is recognize by law.


For purposes of Section 35 rights, the term Métis refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed Indian/Inuit and European ancestry, developed their own customs, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears. A Métis community for the purposes of section 35 rights is a group of Métis with distinctive collective identity, living together in the same geographic area and sharing a common way of life. The Government of British Columbia does not consult with the Métis because it is of the view that no Métis community is capable of successfully asserting site specific Section 35 rights in British Columbia. The Province will continue to work with the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and Métis communities to reach the goals of the Métis Nation Relationship Accord.


Something that has happened in the past which can be used as an example.


An accepted way of doing things.


The process to officially accept and approve agreements.


Rules that give more specific details to an Act.


Indian Reserves are specified in the Indian Act as federal Crown lands set aside for the use and benefit of bands. First Nations with modem treaties no longer have reserves set aside for them. They have treaty settlement lands and have jurisdiction over them.

Resource revenue

Revenues from resource extraction and related activities that go to Canada or the Province usually in the form of rents or royalties.


A form of tax governments collect on resources.

s. 35

Section of the 1982 Constitution that states that Aboriginal rights and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed. As a result of this constitutional recognition, government has an obligation not to infringe Aboriginal and treaty rights without justification, and to consult about claimed rights or title before they have been proven through the courts or negotiated in treaties.

s. 91 (24)

Section of the 1867 Constitution which confers upon the federal parliament the power to make laws in relation to “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians”.


The regulation of a First Nation by its own people.

Six-stage treaty process

Process established for all treaty negotiations in British Columbia. The six stages are:

  1. A First Nation sends a statement of intent to BCTC.
    The readiness of all three parties is established.
    The parties negotiate a framework agreement.
    The parties negotiate an agreement in principle.
    The parties negotiate a final agreement.
    The provisions of the treaty are implemented.


Complete ownership and jurisdiction of an area or country.


Chapters within the Agreement in Principle document which, when completed and initialled by the chief negotiators, lay the foundation for the final agreement.


That portion of the ground that is below the first few feet. Usually refers to minerals, oil, gas, etc.


Means to overrule or to be “more important than”. Generally used with legislation to show which Act is more powerful.


That portion of the ground that does not include subsurface resources. Usually refers to the organic layer and the first few feet of dirt.


Means to be able to carry on indefinitely. For example, when used in connection to logging it means to log at a pace at which the growth of new trees keeps up with the amount of trees logged.


Hunting, fishing and gathering for survival.

Third parties

Parties outside of governments and First Nations who have an interest in treaty negotiations including parties who hold legal interests, rights, permits or leases granted by a government.

Traditional territory or Territory

The geographic area identified by First Nations as the area of land which they and their ancestors occupied or used. These areas will often overlap with the traditional territories of other First Nations. In Canadian law, this is not necessarily reflective of Aboriginal title.


A solemn agreement between government and a First Nation that defines the rights of Aboriginal peoples with respect to lands and resources over a specified area, and may also define the self-government authority of a First Nation. Treaties may be historic agreements dating from the mid or late 1800’s in B.C. or modern “final agreements” which have been ratified by Canada, B.C. and the First Nation(s).

Treaty 8

An accord that was signed between Canada and First Nations in 1899 to secure peace and settle land claim issues, when thousands of prospectors were passing through First Nations territories to take part in the Klondike gold rush. This treaty covers large portions of northeast British Columbia and northern Alberta.

Treaty settlement land

Pursuant to the terms of a modern treaty, these are lands that a First Nation collectively owns in fee simple and over which it has jurisdiction. Federal and provincial laws apply concurrently with First Nation laws.

Treaty – historic

Generally refer to land surrendered by First Nations in exchange for rights that may include hunting, fishing and trapping. These include Treaty No. 8 in north eastern B.C. and the 14 Douglas Treaties on Vancouver Island. They all occurred prior to 1925.

Treaty – modern

Negotiated agreements that set out rights and obligations for all parties, including land ownership and any consultation obligations. The first modern treaty in B.C. with the Nisga’a Nation, came into effect in 2000. Since then, treaties with Tsawwassen and Maa-nulth First Nations have concluded. Several other negotiations are currently in the final stages of completion.

Tribal Council

A self-identified entity which represents a group of bands or Aboriginal people sharing a common interest. The tribal council may provide a range of advice and/or services to its members. Tribal councils do not necessarily coincide with treaty groups.

Underlying title

Legal interest in land which underlies private ownership and remains consistent through changes in private ownership. When land is abandoned by a private owner, it reverts to the entity which holds underlying title. The underlying title of all land in British Columbia vests with the Crown, either Canada or the Province. After treaties, the Province will have underlying title to treaty settlement lands.