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Working towards regional agreements: recent developments in co-operative resource management in Canada's British Columbia

Robinson, Cathy



Australian geographical studies



Canada's experience with ‘regional agreements’ has attracted considerable attention in Australia as a means by which Indigenous people can secure their native title rights to land and sea and ensure they can participate in the development and management of their homeland territories. However, regional agreements implemented in Canada thus far have often taken years to negotiate. To provide a degree of certainty for resource management and decision-making while the native title claims process is underway, Canadian governments have proceeded to establish interim resource use and management agreements with Indigenous communities. While both governments and Indigenous people stress that interim arrangements do not replace or limit the scope for future claim settlements, it is recognised that the development of such co-operative relationships will make long-lasting formal agreements easier to achieve. This paper draws on several recent examples of interim agreements that have been negotiated for the salmon fishery resource in the Skeena River catchment, and considers how these local experiences offer useful approaches for resource management and native title issues in Australia. These examples demonstrate the importance of building shared understandings of resource values and management approaches prior to cementing co-management partnerships in formal settlements. They also show some of the problems and prospects facing Indigenous peoples in their efforts to benefit from such co-management agreements.

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