The Fraser Salmon Management Council is a Tier 1 (First Nations only) governance body that successfully concluded a historic agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The Fraser Salmon Management Agreement was ratified by more than 80% of the FSMC’s 76 Signatory Nations, and was signed by Minister Wilkinson and FSMC President Darren Haskell on July 5, 2019 at Katzie First Nation.
This Agreement puts First Nations at the decision-making table for the management of Fraser River salmon by stipulating a truly collaborative process and structure. Preparations for implementation of the Agreement (target date October 1, 2019) are underway.
How did we get to FSMC?
The FSMC Constitution and By-laws (March 25, 2014) are the result of four years of “Road Map” workshops by Fraser watershed and approach First Nations; six months of research and work with the First Nations Signatories by governance consultants Guerin-Tetreault; and a legal review by Ratcliff & Co LLP.
Tier 1 “Road Map” Workshops (2009-2013)
First Nations from the watershed and Marine Approach areas participated in the “Road Map” workshops with the goal of building a management agreement with DFO. Increasing First Nations’ involvement in Fraser salmon fisheries decision-making is a priority for both First Nations and DFO.
These workshops culminated, on March 20, 2012, with the signing of the Letter of Understanding (LOU) between DFO and 60 First Nations (the “Signatories”). The LOU is a commitment to: work together on a government-to-government basis; and develop processes and agreements for the management and conservation of Fraser salmon.
Following this, the LOU Signatories, on June 29, 2012, approved the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Main Table and appointed the Main Table members.
Worked progressed throughout the year, and, on March 22, 2013, the LOU Signatories approved: the TORs for a Tier 1 governance structure and a Cooperation Protocol; and a draft Negotiation Framework. They also authorized the Main Table to engage with DFO in discussions on the Negotiation Framework.
By November of 2013, First Nation Signatories to the LOU had grown to 76 in number.
“The Path to Consensus” (2013-2014)
During the summer the Main Table conducted a search for governance consultants and, that fall, work began with Guerin-Tetreault and Associates.
Over the course of four Assemblies, and related community engagement and research activities, Michele Guerin and Sheldon Tetreault worked with First Nation Signatories to develop and draft the Constitution and By-Laws of the Fraser Salmon Management Council (FSMC).
At an Assembly March 25, 2014, a quorum of First Nation LOU Signatories reached consensus on the following motion:
“I support the adoption of the Fraser Salmon Management Council constitution and by-laws as our Tier 1 [First Nations-only] governance framework. I agree to bring the constitution and by-laws to my Principals and seek their approval in the form of a Council Resolution.”
69 First Nations have since passed Council Resolutions approving the FSMC and appointing a Member Delegate (April, 2017).
Preparing to Negotiate Timeline (2015-2016)
The Main Table took a number of steps on this timeline in order to ready FSMC for negotiations:
- Retained a Lead Negotiator.
- Developed a Negotiations Strategy.
- Selected a Negotiations Team with Terms of Reference.
- Received consensus approval from Member Delegates for a Mandate to negotiate.
- Obtained a Mandate to negotiate, by Council Resolution, from FSMC member nations
- Reached agreement with DFO on a draft Framework to Guide Negotiations.
This timeline came to a successful conclusion when the Rebecca Reid, Regional Director-General (Pacific) and Darren Haskell, FSMC President, signed Nesika Oakut (“Our Own Way”): A Framework Agreement to Guide the Negotiations for Managing Fraser River Salmon.
The first bilateral negotiation meeting was held on November 24, 2016 in Vancouver.