Musqueam band members are breathing a sigh of relief now that they’ve signed a new agreement with the city that’s been 20 years in the making.
Before the agreement, the Musqueam would meet with the municipality to discuss services on an annual basis. These services include police, water, electricity, garbage disposal and many others the city provides at a market rate to the band.
The city and the band are separate governments; the First Nations are under federal jurisdiction. The reserve is located south of SW Marine Drive.
Long road to agreement
While the proposal for a permanent agreement started in 1994, the framework was laid out 10 years later. Due to the Olympics and government shuffles from both parties, the agreement was delayed until Jan. 27 of this year.
“Ridiculously long process, but I think it really speaks to the challenge of reconciling in the past to the present. It’s not a simple process to figure out to move forward together,” said city councilor Andrea Reimer.
Prior to the deal, the city had most of the power with how it negotiates services to the Musqueam. In any time, the municipality can legally turn off all services it sells to the band. The deal gives more clarity, certainty, and optimism to the Musqueam so that they can adequately invest for the community’s growth.
“I’d rather have an agreement than not have one,” said Arlene Guerin, Langara alumnus and an elder to the Musqueam.
Band and city pleased with the new deal
Doug Raines, Musqueam Indian Band manager said he is pleased that Vancouver has been willing to negotiate with the band for over 20 years, adding it’s a “good example” of how municipalities and First Nations can work together.
On June 21, 2013, the mayor has proclaimed this as a “Year of Reconciliation.”
The municipality and the Musqueam are organizing a set of events for Vancouverites such as public education and storytelling to help residents understand First Nations issues.
Reported by Edrick Dudang