Government Commitments

Treaties and Land Claims

Proposed treaty would give Kitselas First Nation self-governance

June 24, 2024

If members vote yes on treaty next spring, First Nation will become self-governing

An aerial image of a valley community framed by mountains.
The Kitselas Canyon, located in Gitaus, seen here, is now a national historic site. (Kitselas First Nation website)

CBC Indigenous: The chief of the Kitselas First Nation has initialled a treaty with the governments of Canada and British Columbia, marking the end of decades-long negotiations to achieve self-governance.  

The treaty — which, according to the Kitselas Treaty Information Source website, seeks to get Kitselas out from under the Indian Act and make the nation self-governing — has been under negotiation since 1993. 

“The treaty, to me, will mean that we will be free once and for all from the Indian Act,” Kitselas Chief Glenn Bennett told CBC’s Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.   

The Kitselas First Nation’s land in northwestern B.C. stretches from the coast to about 200 kilometres inland and includes several reservations, according to the Kitselas website. There are about 700 members of the Kitselas First Nation. 

Bennett said the signing of the treaty will give his people land and money from the federal and provincial governments —an amount, he said, that could be up to $139 million.

According to the June 2023 Final Land and Cash Offer booklet, the land agreement could encompass about 390 square kilometres.

However, some changes may still be made prior to the membership ratification process as consultations with neighbouring First Nations continue, according to a statement.

The treaty must still be put to a vote before it can be signed. A spokesperson for the Kitselas First Nation said members are expected to vote on the treaty in April 2025.

“This Treaty unlocks the transformational road ahead for Kitselas to self-determine their future. This is lasting, generational change,” federal  Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree said in a statement.

Concerns from neighbouring First Nations

However, the agreement is not without controversy. The Gitxaaɫa Nation and Lax Kw’alaams Band have issued statements voicing their concern for the treaty and how it will affect their people, given that their territories border those of the Kitselas Nation. 

Sm’ooygit Txagyet, also known as Clarence Innis,  said he’s worried about how the treaty would affect harvesting and fishing rights, as well as governance in their area. 

“These actions directly contravene UNDRIP and the honour of the Crown, which legally require the governments to negotiate with Gitxaaɫa in these circumstances prior to initialling these modern treaties,” he said in a statement.

Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Gary Reece is calling for his band to be acknowledged and consulted in any land selection that involves their territory. 

An Indigenous man smiles into the camera.
Chief Coun. Glenn Bennett says the Kitselas Treaty would effectively free the Kitselas First Nation from the Indian Act. (Marty Clemens/Submitted)

Bennett said Kitselas does not believe these areas are Kitselas’s alone. 

“They’re areas that are still open to other First Nations,” he said. 

He also said they have an “open door policy” for other First Nations to bring concerns and questions to Kitselas. 

‘We’ll continue to sit down and have a discussion with regards to if they have any concerns with regards to Kitselas’s treaty process.”


Courtney Dickson, Journalist

Courtney Dickson is a journalist in Vancouver, B.C. Email her at with story tips. 

With files from Daybreak North and Jason Peters