Informing the Treaty Process: Stó:lō Interest Module



Guest blog by Sue Formosa, Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre

 

What is this?

Treaty negotiation is a complex and difficult process. Tripartite negotiations between First Nations, the Province and the federal government require large volumes of information from various sources. It is critical that all parties have the information necessary to make informed decisions.  The challenge is to ensure all parties have easy access to identical information. For the Stó:lō Xweywilmexw Treaty Association (SXTA) Treaty Table, the solution is the Stó:lō Interest Module.

In 2013, the SXTA Lands Technical Working Group identified the need for a more efficient way to review interests overlapping Stó:lō cultural use and SXTA’s proposed treaty settlement land areas. At that time they relied on spreadsheets and maps to review sites under discussion. This form of analysis was time consuming and used static data that could quickly become out of date. As a solution to this problem, the SXTA developed the Interest Module, a web portal to provide themselves, provincial and federal negotiators with real time spatial information pertaining to various interests on the lands within the S’ólh Téméxw statement of intent (SOI) boundary.  This module has a direct feed of provincial government data via DataBC.

 

Stolo SOI Map

SXTA statement of intent boundary

 

A Tripartite Partnership

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC, provided the initial funding to begin the development of the web portal through a treaty-related measure.  Starting in January 2014, the the SXTA, INAC and the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR), the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) and DataBC with the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training (JTST)  partnered to make the build possible. Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (SRRMC), provided technical support for SXTA.  MARR provided provincial liaison for the project and FLNRO and DataBC helped identify the spatial data sets required for analysis. Access to data from 19 provincial data custodians was coordinated.  DataBC was engaged as the source of provincial government spatial data for the portal. DataBC established a custom REST web services that provide the web portal with a feed of provincial spatial data holdings from the British Columbia Geographic Warehouse.

The Stó:lō Interest Module has been an unqualified success in increasing the efficiency of the treaty work for the SXTA treaty table.  It has reduced the time it takes to review overlapping claims from days or weeks to hours.   Maps and reporting tools within the web portal provide summaries of these interacting interests to guide joint decision making about refining the proposed treaty settlement land areas, identifying areas within private ownership, and for analysis of potential protective mechanisms for cultural practice areas.

Additional development is planned with the hopes of further increases in efficiency. Another benefit of the project is relationship building, fostering trust that all parties in the negotiation are using the same spatial information to build consensus.

This has been a very satisfying partnership.  It has greatly increased the efficiency of the treaty work for the SXTA treaty table.