Anniversary of treating signing celebrated

Doig River First Nations Chief Norman Davis speaks at the 115th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 8 by the former Fort St. John Beaver Band. Davis stands with a Chief’s coat from Chief Succona. In the early days, in was common for a Chief to receive a coat such as the one shown here. Chief Succona received his coat in 1919 when he became Chief of Doig River at the Old Fort Trading Post.

Members of the Doig River and Blueberry River First Nations converged on Peace Island Park on May 30 to mark 115 years since the bands signed onto Treaty 8.

Band members, dignitaries and supporters gathered under moody, rainy skies to mark the historic event, which saw the two groups, then referred to as simply the Fort St. John Beaver Band, sign on the treaty in May 1900.

The treaty covered lands stretching some 840,000 square kilometres across northern BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Both Doig and Blueberry River were among the first to sign onto the treaty, done at the old Fort St. John fur trading post on the Peace River. The treaty was to pay annually $25 to each chief, $15 to every Headman, and $5 to every other band member. At the same time it provided for continued hunting, trapping and fishing rights within the treaty’s boundaries, held a 160-acre tract of land for every member, and offered a number of other provisions, such as clothing, money for teachers, and farming tools.

In exchange, the treaty opened up the Peace River region and beyond to settlement, trade, travel, mining, and other industry for the Crown, with signatory First Nations ceding their rights to title to the lands. The treaty made provisions for compensation for lands or reserves needed for any public works, buildings, railways, or roads.

The event was attended by Barb Williams from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Taylor Councillor Dave Lueneberg, Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, and Councillor Larry Evans.