The Vancouver Island Treaties Conference (VI Treaties) was held at Vancouver Island University and co-hosted by Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo on May 10 and 11, 2012, with more than 200 participants from across Canada.
The theme for the conference was “The Pre-Confederation Treaties of Vancouver
Island – Fulfilling Treaty Promises and Living in Treaty Relationships.” Presenters explored two overlapping streams:
1) First Nation visions for a treaty relationship in the 21st century founded on
these pre-Confederation treaties; and
2) current and future academic research about these living treaties.
What are the practical implications of White & Bob and Morris for the exercise of
jurisdiction by the Treaty First Nations and the Province of BC? What role exists for
“Douglas Treaty” First Nation laws in regulating the use of lands and resources? Is
escalating conflict over land and resource decisions affecting “Douglas Treaty”
rights inevitable or do alternatives exist and, if so, what are they?
How should the wrongs of the past be remedied through treaty implementation?
What can be learned from the experience in Washington State with tribal fishing
rights under the Stevens Treaties of 1854 and 1855? Has the specific claims process
aided or hindered the task of redressing past wrongs? How does the legacy of denial
and neglect of Douglas Treaty rights affect current efforts to chart a new course for
treaty implementation? What does a new course for treaty implementation entail
(for First Nations or the Crown) and what are the main obstacles or challenges in
achieving it? What are the implications of treaty implementation for citizens, local
governments, businesses, and proposed land and resource development?
How do the Pre-Confederation Treaties structure relationships and interactions between
peoples and governments? What roles can and should oral histories and the written text
and other documents play in the interpretation of the Treaties? Can an approach to
treaty interpretation be adopted that does not unduly privilege the written text of the
treaties over First Nation interpretations? Is the search for a “common intention”
plausible? How should treaty interpretation influence and guide processes for treaty