Below you will find answers to the questions that we get asked the most about the Strategic Engagement Agreement, the STSA and the People of the River Referrals Office:
A SEA establishes mutual expectations and obligations for coordinated government-to-government consultation between key provincial natural resource sector agencies and the signatory First Nations on land and resource development applications.
The goals of the Stó:lō SEA are to strengthen B.C.’s investment climate, to build and maintain strong government-to-government relationships with participating First Nations; to streamline and reduce consultation by implementing a “referral clearinghouse”; and to support the Transformative Change Accord (TCA).
The G2G Forum has been established to assist the parties involved in achieving the goal of closing the social and economic gap between Stó:lō First Nations and British Columbians. This may include discussions related to revenue sharing on new, major development projects proposed within the SEA agreement area.
Strategic Engagement Agreements establish mutual expectations and obligations around natural resource consultation on a government-to-government basis. Reconciliation Agreements are comprehensive agreements that may make government-to-government commitments around shared decision making regarding lands and resources, revenue and benefit sharing.
The Stó:lō SEA is accessible to the public through the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) web site at:
No. The Stó:lō SEA does not create, recognize, define, defy, limit, abrogate or derogate from, or amend the Section 35 rights of the signatory First Nations.
The key elements under this agreement include:
- A Government -to-Government (GTG) Forum
- An Engagement Framework
- People of the River Referral Office (PRRO)
- Performance Measures and Reporting Procedures
- Provisions to clarify and confirm:
- Role of the Proponent
- Major Projects
- Information Sharing
A map of the agreement area is found in Appendix A of the Stó:lō SEA.
Yes. The Engagement Framework, Appendix C of the Stó:lō SEA, supersedes the consultation components of the respective First Nation FCRSA.
To date there are 14 signatory Stó:lō First Nations. The Stó:lō are a group of First Nation peoples inhabiting the Fraser Valley and lower Fraser Canyon of British Columbia.
The signatory Stó:lō First Nations include:
- Aitchelitz Band
- Cheam First Nation
- Leq’a:mel First Nation
- Scowlitz First Nation
- Shxw’ōwhámel First Nation
- Skawahlook First Nation
- Skowkale First Nation
- Soowahlie First Nation
- Squiala First Nation
- Sumas First Nation
- Tzeachten First Nation
- Yakweakwioose First Nation
- Chawathil First Nation
- Shxwhá:y Village
The Minister from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) is the provincial signatory to this agreement on behalf of the Province. MARR’s role is to facilitate and support the implementation of the Stó:lō SEA.
The provincial agencies involved are:
- Ministry of Energy and Mines
- Ministry of Environment
- Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Proposed Activities classified under the following statutes are subject to consultation under the Engagement Framework (Appendix C of the Stó:lō SEA):
Environmental Management Act
Forest and Range Practices Act
Heritage Conservation Act
Integrated Pest Management Act
Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act
Protected Areas of British Columbia Act
When a project proposal falls within the agreement area and the duty to consult has been triggered, the Stó:lō SEA outlines procedural processes under the applicable legislation to assist staff in determining the appropriate engagement levels.
Examples of the types of decisions included in the Stó:lō SEA are found in the Reference Guide: https://www.stoloconnect.com/articles/2
The Province and the PRRO will establish a government-to-government (G2G) Forum to work collaboratively to implement the SEA as well as to discuss and explore solutions for natural resource-based and other agreed-to issues or concerns that may arise. The G2G Forum will consist of three levels:
- The Executive
- The Working Group
- The Technical Team
Between June 2012 and March 2014, the Province provided funding to the signatory First Nations of the Stó:lō Strategic Engagement Agreement Pilot to create a “clearinghouse” model that streamlines First Nations consultation processes related to natural resource applications that fall within the Stó:lō SEA Pilot Agreement area.
Every year, natural resource agencies send hundreds of application referral letters for use of Crown land and resources to the Stó:lō First Nations. Under the Pilot project, agencies forward referrals through one entity – the People of the River Referrals Office – to address consultation requirements associated with those decisions which require consultation under the Land Act, Forest Act, Forest and Range Practices Act, Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act, and the Water Act.
The Pilot was a successful demonstration of three provincial ministries working with an aggregate of First Nations to address land and resource related referrals. First Nations benefited from the expertise and administration offered by PRRO staff, which ensured timely responses to referrals on behalf of signatory-individual First Nations and provided GIS and research expertise to help inform the content of the responses.
If your consultation process has been initiated before the Stó:lō SEA comes into effect, continue with the consultation process as planned.
Referral applications for First Nations who are signatories to the Stó:lō SEA should be sent to [email protected] , Attention: Referrals Administrator.
The PRRO communicates with the Province in response to receiving the application. Information provided confirms the engagement level, and provides you with contact information for the person in the PRRO working on your file. You can contact them directly.
Yes, there is an evaluation component. There are provisions within the Stó:lō SEA that establish a plan for how to evaluate the Stó:lō SEA within 60 days of the agreement’s effective date.
Throughout the implementation period of the SEA, the Stó:lō SEA Working Group will evaluate and monitor the progress of the Stó:lō SEA on a semi-annual basis and report out to the Executive of the Stó:lō SEA G2G Forum and the agreement participants.
The parties who have signed on to the agreement are committed to continuous improvement to ensure the Stó:lō SEA is an effective tool for all parties.