New chief chosen, treaty vote coming

The K’ómoks First Nation has re-elected Chief Ernie Hardy three months before band members decide whether to send an Agreement in Principle (AIP) to the next stage of the B.C. Treaty Commission process.

On Thursday, Hardy defeated challenger Robert Everson by a vote of 68-51.

Stewart Hardy and Barb Mitchell were re-elected to council.

Chief Hardy, who has served 18 consecutive years with the band, is a strong advocate of KFN treaty making.

“I am thankful to the people who support me and I look forward to another term representing K’ómoks,” Hardy said in a news release. “Now, we can focus more of our energy on the upcoming AIP vote.”

K’ómoks members will vote to approve or reject a draft AIP on March 26.

“The Agreement in Principle is not legally binding itself, it’s more of an approval vote to decide whether we should move on for further negotiations or hold back a little bit,” band spokesperson Melissa Quocksister said.

KFN treaty negotiations have been in Stage Four — the critical stage of the six-stage treaty process — since 2007. Last year, the band indicated it was nearing completion of the AIP.

The KFN, the province and the federal government are attempting to reach an agreement on a variety of issues such as land interests that will form the basis of the treaty.

Access at Goose Spit has been a serious roadblock to negotiations.

The tip of the spit is KFN reserve land. It also serves as a Department of National Defence military training site, which means First Nations people are required to identify themselves to security guards if they wish to access the area.

The treaty team is demanding unrestricted access through the middle portion of the spit and the foreshore, and transfer of a 9.8-hectare portion to the KFN.

Neither provincial negotiators nor Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development John Duncan could be reached for comment.

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