One of the various possible forms of Native self-government available in Canada was inaugurated in 1986 when the federal government passed the Sechelt Indian Band Self-Government Act. Further legislation by B.C. led to the establishment in June 1988 of the Sechelt Band in British Columbia as a municipal-type form of Native self-government. This move essentially placed the band outside the Indian Act. The impetus for negotiation was the unique position of the Sechelt as an urbanized people occupying valuable lands with a high degree of development potential on the coast north of Vancouver. Through a negotiated settlement, the Sechelt created a form of self-government suited to the demands of their situation. Under the legislation, they established a band constitution, gained complete control of their lands, and received a number of governmental powers resembling those exercised by other municipal governments. Concerns raised by other Native groups focused on the fact that the Sechelt arrangement was a legislated form of self-government, rather than one based on constitutionally entrenched Aboriginal right. Advocates have pointed out that the Sechelt solution is one unique to their community and was not devised as a model that others could emulate. Some vulnerabilities may exist, but the Sechelt Act itself offered protection to larger interests by stating explicitly that this reorganization of Sechelt affairs was not to be construed or interpreted as compromising existing Aboriginal or treaty rights. A salutary feature of the Sechelt Act was the fact that the initiative came from the Sechelt themselves and the form of self-government that resulted was one of their own choosing.

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