In October, 1990, leaders of First Nations met with the Prime Minister of Canada and then with the Premier and Cabinet of British Columbia urging the appointment of a tripartite task force to develop a process for modern treaty negotiations in BC. The federal and provincial governments agreed and on December 3rd, 1990, the BC Claims Task Force was established by agreement of the Government of Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and representative leadership of the First Nations.
Leaders from First Nations across British Columbia appointed three members to the BC Claims Task Force at a meeting called the First Nations Summit. Two members were appointed by the Government of Canada, and two by the Province of British Columbia. Following over five and half months of deliberations, The Report of the BC Claims Task Force recommended that First Nations, Canada and British Columbia establish a new relationship based on mutual trust, respect and understanding – through political negotiations.
The FNS is comprised of a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in BC and provides a forum for First Nations in British Columbia to address issues related to Treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern. As one of the principals of the treaty negotiation process along with Canada and BC, the First Nations Summit plays an important and ongoing role in ensuring that the process for conducting Treaty negotiations is accessible to all First Nations. However, the Summit does not participate in negotiations at individual treaty tables. Each treaty table is autonomous in its negotations.
It is anticipated that negotiated modern-day treaties will form the basis of a new relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations which recognizes the unique place of aboriginal people and First Nations in BC.
The new relationship calls for recognition of, and respect for, First Nations as self-determining and distinct nations with their own spiritual values, histories, languages, territories, political institutions and ways of life.
There are now 60 First Nations participating in the BC treaty process. Because some First Nations negotiate at a common table, there are 49 sets of negotiations. As of November 2008, there are six First Nations in Stage 2, three First Nations in Stage 3, 43 First Nations in Stage 4 and eight First Nations in Stage 5 negotiations. First Nations in the treaty process make-up about two-thirds of all aboriginal people in BC. The treaty process is voluntary and open to all First Nations in BC.