CRT agreements are significant to Ktunaxa


ʔa·kisk̓aqǂiʔit / Cranbrook, B.C.:
Through the three separate interim agreements, signed on June 8, 2023, the Ktunaxa Nation, Secwépemc Nation and Syilx Okanagan Nation will each receive five per cent of the revenue generated through the sale of Canada’s share of downstream power benefits under the Columbia River Treaty. (The downstream power benefits are otherwise known as the ‘Canadian Entitlement.’)

“The interim agreements are significant for us,” said Kathryn Teneese, Chair of Ktunaxa Nation Council. “They acknowledge historical impacts to Ktunaxa rights and title, and are a step on the path of reconciliation.”

Since 2018, Canada and the United States have been engaged in negotiations to modernize the treaty. The Ktunaxa, Secwépemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations have been an essential part of the Canadian negotiating team, alongside the governments of Canada and B.C.

The four First Nations as represented by the Ktunaxa Nation Council are ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, ʔaq̓am, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’it, and Yaqan Nuʔkiy.

“Ktunaxa Nation Council, on behalf of our four member First Nations, will continue with the broader collaborative work on Columbia River Treaty renewal with our partners–Secwépemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations, plus B.C. and Canada,” Teneese said. “Ktunaxa perspectives are vital to this treaty process, and we value being at the table.”

The Columbia River Treaty was ratified in 1964 by the U.S. and Canada to provide flood control and generate additional hydro power, but was negotiated without considering the impacts it would have on the rights, culture, economies and ways of life of the Indigenous Nations

Troy Hunter, who is Strategic Initiative Coordinator at Ktunaxa Nation Council, said, “We did not get here today without the many efforts of our ancestors and of those who brought Aboriginal rights and title cases before the courts.”

The late Ktunaxa elder Wilfred Jacobs said the word ‘Kootenay’ is a Ktunaxa word pronounced Kuǂni, and it means to travel by water.

“These agreements are a beginning, but the course we have embarked upon, as we travel together each steering our own yaqsuʔmiǂ, (canoes), is now part of our story,” said Hunter.

Negotiations will continue between the partners towards a long-term agreement to help address environmental, cultural and economic impacts caused by the operations of the Columbia River Treaty Treaty as well as work with the United States to renew the CRT itself.

The Nations have also led efforts to enhance ecosystem function and investigate the feasibility of restoring salmon to the B.C. portion of the Columbia Basin through the treaty-modernization negotiations.