The purpose of a treaty is to create opportunities. A treaty cannot guarantee a job, or an income, or a standard of living, for individual members. However, it does guarantee access to existing programs and services that Indians are entitled to under the Indian Act and the universal social programs other Canadians are entitled to.
A treaty is also intended to provide sufficient funds to for K’ómoks government operations. In that regard, we have done well. Currently the band receives about $207,000 for band governance, which is separate and in addition to the monies the band receives for programs and services delivery. What is currently referred to as band governance funding will increase from the $207,000 amount to just over $2 million annually. That will allow the K’ómoks government to pay its employees the same as provincial employees receive for their services. This is of course in addition to the program and services delivery funding that K’ómoks will continue to receive on an annual basis.
With respect to business opportunities, once the lands negotiations are concluded, K’ómoks would become one of the largest private landowners in the Comox Valley, depending on the final outcome of land negotiations. There are numerous economic development opportunities that will become available as a result of that. But a treaty only creates opportunities, it will be up to K’ómoks in its capacity as a self-governing and self-determining nation to figure out what it wants to do with those opportunities.
More work needs to be done on projecting the economic potential of a K’ómoks treaty. But at the same time, potential is only useful if you can take advantage of it in the right way.