Reconciliation with the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation

Chapter 3

What it’s about

Working with Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and L’il’wat7úl (Lil’wat Nation) to: create an enduring relationship; establish collaborative processes for Crown land planning; achieve mutual objectives; and enable participation in Whistler’s resort economy.

Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), L’il’wat7úl (Lil’wat Nation) and the municipality are working together to create an enduring relationship based on trust, honour and good will. The connection that each Nation holds to the lands and waters of Whistler is celebrated and it is acknowledged that Whistler’s municipal area is located within the unceded traditional territories of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation.

In the spirit of a government-to-government relationship, the Squamish Nation, Lil’wat Nation and the municipality recognize that they each have distinct governance authorities and responsibilities towards their respective lands, resources and citizens. At the same time, the municipality and the Nations have moved beyond formality and have interactions rooted in a sincere and genuine relationship of mutual respect and understanding. Through the Protocol Agreement’s Working Committee, the three governments meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest through open and constructive dialogue.

Recognizing that reconciliation is an ongoing process, the municipality and the Nations have demonstrated a commitment to establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The municipality is also working to ensure that the rich historical and cultural traditions of both Nations are protected and understood by Whistler’s residents and visitors. The governments are working collaboratively to support and ensure that both Whistler and the Nations benefit from the tourism economy and complementary economic development and capacity building opportunities. Economic development opportunities for the Nations are explored through the First Nations’ Economic Development Committee and processes established through the Protocol Committee.

Increased collaboration between the municipality and the Nations has resulted in improved local and regional transportation systems. Employee housing has also allowed for increased participation by both Nations in economic opportunities and created housing options in Whistler for members of both Nations.

Whistler is in the traditional territories of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation. The municipality is aware that these Nations have unresolved claims to Aboriginal rights and title, which are recognized and affirmed by the Constitution of Canada. There are no First Nation reserve lands within the municipal boundary, but there are substantial provincial Crown lands within the municipal boundary and in adjacent rural areas, which could play a role in settlements of Aboriginal rights and title claims.

There have been many significant developments affecting the Nations, and First Nations generally, the municipality, the Province and Canada as a whole. The conversation with respect to First Nations continues to shift both within British Columbia and Canada with the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Report in 2015. In addition, in 2016 the Canadian Government announced its full support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) without qualification and the Province committed to “embrace and implement UNDRIP” in 2017.

Courts have repeatedly reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the honour of the Crown in all dealings with First Nations. While the municipality, as a local government, is not the Crown, the municipality recognizes the important role and responsibility it holds in establishing and implementing honourable, effective and respectful relationships with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.

The Local Government ActCommunity Charter and other applicable federal and provincial legislation govern the development of an OCP. Within these legislative authorities, this OCP strives to build on the effective partnerships among the Province, Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and municipality. Furthermore, the municipality and the Nations recognize and acknowledge that each can best serve their respective communities by working together in the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation to achieve mutual benefits anchored by common values and interests.

The Nations were able to successfully conclude agreements with the Province and Whistler Blackcomb (now known as Vail Resorts) providing for the 60-year extension of the Master Development Agreements for Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, and for a revenue sharing agreement, employment and training opportunities, land development partnership and other benefits.

The Province, the municipality, Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation ratified a Legacy Land Agreement in 2007 with respect to the disposition of certain provincial lands to the Nations or their nominee, and the disposition of certain provincial lands to Whistler.

The Sea to Sky Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) adopted by the Province in 2008 serves as the primary land use planning document for the Nations and the Province. The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation have each ratified a land use planning agreement with the Province that is included in the Sea to Sky LRMP. Crown land management processes will be developed by the Province, Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and municipality to further this important planning work.

Much of the historical development in Whistler occurred at a time before the aforementioned agreements had been established and without the participation of the Squamish Nation or Lil’wat Nation. Looking forward, the municipality recognizes the need to create and develop a new relationship that provides for enhanced collaboration and partnership.

The municipality entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Province, Lil’wat Nation, Squamish Nation and Whistler Blackcomb in 2017. The intent of the MOU is for the parties to work together and explore interests to seek mutually agreeable outcomes in matters related to development opportunities, Crown land management and community planning.

The Nations and the municipality feel strongly that the OCP is one of a number of opportunities to strengthen their new relationship. The parties recognize that to fulfil the commitment for reconciliation an ongoing process of open dialogue and working together in the pursuit of future opportunities are required. One outcome of the MOU discussions is the introduction of a government-to-government Protocol Agreement. In addition to solidifying the cooperative and respectful relationship between the municipality, Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation, the Protocol Agreement will serve as a tool for ongoing collaboration. The Protocol Agreement’s Working Committee also provides an important avenue channel for monitoring the outcomes and success of the goals and objectives of this OCP.

Click the ‘Objectives & Policies’ to display additional content.

3.1. Goal The municipality has initiated the ongoing process towards reconciliation with the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation.

3.1.1. Objective

Strengthen the relationships with both Nations through initiatives and processes to advance and support reconciliation in Whistler. Policy

Recognize the TRC Report and the UNDRIP signed by Canada. Policy

Work with both Nations to identify opportunities to work towards reconciliation, such as community dialogue sessions on the TRC Report’s findings to build awareness and understanding of the impacts
of Canada’s residential schools. Policy

Provide cultural competency training for the municipality’s senior management and other staff, including sessions on the history of Aboriginal peoples and the history and legacy of residential schools.

3.2. Goal The Lil’wat Nation’s and Squamish Nation’s history, and the importance of Whistler to the Nations, is widely understood.

3.2.1. Objective

Increase opportunities to share the rich history and stories of each Nation with Whistler’s community members and visitors. Policy

Recognize each Nation’s local traditions, knowledge, wisdom and governance within their shared traditional territory. Policy

Celebrate the understanding that the people of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation and the land are one, and recognize the importance of the place of Whistler as part of this connection. Policy

Promote awareness and cultural understanding of both Nations by sharing each Nation’s stories and place names that tell of the rich history of the Nations and their traditional lands. Policy

Recognizing that traditional knowledge and community history are often transmitted through stories, develop appropriate avenues to maintain and share understandings of each Nation’s rich history, culture and spiritual values associated with the authentic place of Whistler.

3.2.2. Objective

Strive to develop a strong First Nations cultural presence throughout Whistler. Policy

Work collaboratively with the Nations to pursue opportunities for sharing the Lil’wat Nation’s traditional language of Ucwalmícwts and the Squamish Nation’s traditional language of Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh Snichem. Policy

Explore opportunities to showcase First Nations artists. Policy

Support opportunities to share each Nation’s history and culture through events and gatherings in Whistler that draw residents and visitors alike.

3.2.3. Objective

Preserve and minimize impacts on sites of cultural significance. Policy

Work with the Nations to better understand the impact of development and recreational uses on the Nations’ shared traditional territory and associated cultural and spiritual values. Policy

Continue to develop policies to protect the Nations’ archaeological, heritage and other cultural interests. Policy

Develop practices to include the Nations in trail planning and development to ensure the Nations’ interests are considered, such as access to sensitive cultural spiritual areas, including the Lil’wat Nation’s A7x7ūlḿecw (Spirited Ground) Areas and the Squamish Nation’s Kwa kwayx welh-aynexws (Wild Spirit Places).

3.3. Goal The municipality has established cooperative government-to-government relationships with the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation.

3.3.1. Objective

Continue to maintain and build relationships based on the principles of equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect. Policy

Acknowledge the respective governance authorities and traditions of the Squamish Nation, Lil’wat Nation and municipality. Policy

Continue to develop a new relationship that is based on a joint commitment to reconciliation and utilizes the spirit of cooperation to achieve mutual benefits. Policy

Work with the Nations towards meaningful participation in the future direction of the region. Policy

As the provincial and federal governments address unresolved Aboriginal rights and title, the municipality will respect ongoing processes and participate in these discussions, where applicable, and work cooperatively towards solutions that meet the needs of all parties.

3.3.2. Objective

Implement and leverage the Protocol Agreement entered into by the municipality, Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation. Policy

Implement the principles of cooperation as set out in the Protocol Agreement to encourage open and constructive dialogue based on mutual trust, honesty and respect. Policy

Create a Working Committee comprised of political representatives and staff members to foster the intent of the Protocol Agreement. Policy

Use the Working Committee to address areas of mutual interest with the goal of recognizing shared opportunities and community benefits.

3.3.3. Objective

The Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation meaningfully participate in the future direction of Whistler and the surrounding region. Policy

Ensure that opportunities for both Nations’ involvement in events and activities that add to the experience of Whistler are explored and considered. Policy

Explore new ways to bridge municipal and First Nations community planning, as the communities work to meet their respective goals, priorities and needs. Policy

Promote mutual participation in regional plans related to natural hazard mitigation, economic development, tourism, education and training, community health and well-being, and stewardship efforts.

3.4. Goal The municipality, Province, Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation have established a collaborative process for Crown land planning.

3.4.1. Objective

Work collaboratively on Crown land use and management processes. Policy

Support development of an ongoing inventory of commercial recreation tenures and activities on Crown land in the region. Policy

Participate in provincial Crown land use planning with the Province and the Nations. Policy

Continue to collaborate with the Nations on the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF).

3.5. Goal The Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation participate in a meaningful way in the economic development of fee simple lands in which they have an ownership interest.

3.5.1. Objective

The municipality and the Nations work together on land use and development opportunities that achieve respective interests. Policy

Recognize that existing fee simple lands owned by the Nations, lands in which they have interests through existing partnership agreements, and lands that they may acquire, are important to the Nations’ cultural, environmental, political and economic interests to serve the needs of their members and future generations. Policy

Recognize Whistler’s goal of achieving a balanced resort and community capacity that minimizes Whistler’s ecological footprint and strives to maintain: Whistler’s mountain resort community character; the quality of its natural environment and sense of place; a stable and healthy economy; a high quality of visitor experience; and a high quality of life for Whistler community members—which are fundamental to Whistler’s long-term success. Policy

Support land uses and development that achieve Whistler’s Community Vision and the policies expressed in this OCP that will guide future municipal decision-making. Policy

Recognize the significant economic benefits to the Nations and the Whistler resort community associated with the ongoing success of Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain recreation activities and related land uses and development within the Whistler Blackcomb Controlled Recreation Area. Policy

Work together with the Nations on co-management of provincially directed timber resource harvesting in the CCF. Policy

Consider creative solutions to optimize land use and respective interests such as partnerships, land exchanges, dedications and amenity zoning. Policy

Review development priorities for the Nations and the municipality on an ongoing basis through processes established in the Protocol Agreement. Policy

Recognize the ongoing long-term evolution of Whistler, and consider short, medium and long-term time frames for achieving economic benefits from land use and development.

3.5.2. Objective

Seek common understanding on the processes and criteria that apply to consideration of future development proposals. Policy

Recognize and implement outcomes made between the Squamish Nation, Lil’wat Nation, Province and municipality that have resulted from MOU discussions and have been informed by input from community members through the process of updating this OCP. Policy

Ensure that the Nations have access to the municipality’s Council and senior staff for direct engagement on, and consideration of, development proposals, including how development proposals meet or could meet OCP amendment and rezoning criteria included in Policies and, through the collaborative efforts of the First Nations’ Economic Development Committee. Policy

The municipality supports the designations and processes for consideration of future development proposals for specified lands, as identified in Schedule B.

3.6. Goal The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation are successfully participating in Whistler’s resort economy and regional economic growth.

3.6.1. Objective

Strengthen cooperation and coordination to realize economic benefits. Policy

Work with both Nations and the Province to further develop relationships and to explore opportunities to work together on economic and tourism-related initiatives. Policy

Pursue shared opportunities to participate in regional economic growth. Policy

Explore opportunities for both Nations to be involved in events and activities that celebrate the authentic place of Whistler.

3.6.2. Objective

Support capacity building through economic opportunities. Policy

Use the mechanisms provided for in the Protocol Agreement to work together toward capacity building for the members of both Nations. Policy

Encourage opportunities for both Nations’ members to build capacity of their communities through employment, training and skills development. Policy

Recognize opportunities for cross-training and knowledge sharing between the municipality and the Nations. Policy

Investigate other options for developing long-term benefits for both Nations from economic development projects.

3.7. Goal The Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation are working with the municipality to support and improve local and regional transportation systems.

3.7.1. Objective

Work collaboratively with the Squamish Nation, Lil’wat Nation, Province and other local governments to develop transit solutions. Policy

Prioritize the establishment of new governance and funding models, which include both Nations as regional partners, to implement enhanced transportation options for the corridor. Policy

Recognize that improved transportation systems will support greater participation by both Nations’ members in the daily activities of Whistler. Policy

Recognize that increased participation by both Nations’ members within Whistler will support many of the other shared goals identified in this chapter, such as building capacity through employment, training and skills development, and participating in the tourism economy.

3.8. Goal The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation participate in employee housing opportunities.

3.8.1. Objective

Employee housing initiatives support opportunities for economic development and create housing options for members of both Nations to live in Whistler. Policy

Support participation by both Nations in the development of employee housing in Cheakamus Crossing, as presented in Schedule B. Policy

Employee housing provides opportunities for both Nations’ members to live in Whistler. Policy

Share knowledge for management and administration of the Nations’ employee housing development.

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