The Maa-nulth First Nations are five First Nations that together negotiated and entered into the Maa‑nulth Treaty. The five Nations are as follows: t̓uk̓ʷaaʔatḥ (Toquaht Nation), Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h First Nation, Uchucklesaht Tribe, and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet First Nation).
The Maa-nulth First Nations are also part of the nuučaan̓uł (Nuu-chah-nulth) people and have ancestral roots along the beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island that date back more than 10,000 years. “Maa-nulth” means “villages along the coast” in the nuučaan̓uł language.
When section 35 was added to the Canadian Constitution in 1982, recognizing and affirming “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada”, there were no Modern Treaties in British Columbia and there was little clarity on what rights were encompassed in section 35.
This led to the creation of the BC Treaty process and the BC Treaty Commission in 1992. All 14 nuučaan̓uł First Nations entered the BC Treaty process in 1994 and, after more than a decade of negotiations, the five Maa-nulth First Nations, the Government of British Columbia, and the Government of Canada ratified the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2009. The Treaty took effect on April 1, 2011.
Distinct Rights and Interests
The Maa‑nulth Treaty holds significance as the first multi-First Nation Treaty in British Columbia and the first Modern Treaty on Vancouver Island. Modern Treaties are a distinct expression of reconciliation. They form an integral part of the constitutional framework of Canada and are the ultimate recognition and expression of Indigenous rights protected and affirmed by section 35.
The Maa-nulth Treaty recognizes each Maa-nulth First Nation as a third order of government within the Canadian Constitution, alongside the federal and provincial governments. As of April 1, 2011, the Indian Act no longer applies to the Maa-nulth First Nations. They are no longer “bands” governed by the Indian Act and now have treaty lands, not “reserve lands set aside for their use and benefit”.
The Maa-nulth Treaty recognizes a broad range of Maa-nulth First Nations’ rights and interests, including land rights, harvesting rights, cultural rights, and numerous law-making authorities. While all five Maa-nulth First Nations belong to the broader nuučaan̓uł linguistic group, each Maa-nulth First Nation has a distinct history and distinct customs, traditions and dialects. Correspondingly, the Maa-nulth Treaty recognizes each Maa-nulth First Nation as an independent self-governing Modern Treaty First Nation. Each Maa-nulth First Nation governs its own treaty lands and determines how programs and services are provided to its citizens.
The Maa-nulth First Nations have returned to self-governance, exercising their inherent right once again.
Read the full Maa-nulth First Nations Treaty here.
The Maa-nulth Treaty provides a blueprint for reconciliation and a foundation for Toquaht Nation’s ongoing and evolving relationship with the governments of the five Maa-nulth First Nations, British Columbia, and Canada. It is a living Treaty that must be honoured and adapt over time as new circumstances arise.
To learn more about Toquaht Nation’s governance of lands and resources, please visit the following pages: