Semá:th Approves Multi-Government Flood Mitigation Framework

The Creator provided us with our territory and resources. The Creator gave us laws that govern all our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind. The Creator gave us laws that define our rights and responsibilities.

–  Semá:th Declaration

On April 28, 2023, under the spirit of LET’SEMO:T (“One heart, one mind”), Semá:th First Nation joined Leq’a-mel First Nation, Matsqui First Nation, the Province of British Columbia, the City of Abbotsford, and the City of Chilliwack, in a framework for the collaborative development of a Sumas River Watershed flood mitigation plan. Semá:th will work with these parties to ensure that the Sumas River Watershed Flood Mitigation Collaborative Framework results in successful flood resilience measures, habitat restoration, and improve the ecosystem of the Sumas River Watershed.

The parties initiated this agreement partly in response to the November 2021 atmospheric river that brought severe flooding to the Fraser Valley. “The flood showed us we are not prepared for these flood events – and we need to plan for future flooding,” says Semá:th Chief Dalton Silver. During the flood, Semá:th “worked side by side the City, to help restore the existing infrastructure and rescue salmon and sturgeon.”

Semá:th Xhotsa

The flood also “brought the return of Semá:th Xhotsa (Sumas Lake),” according to Chief Silver. Semá:th Xhotsa was drained in the 1920s to create the Sumas Prairie, which is largely composed of Abbotsford today. Semá:th ensured that the Framework acknowledges this history.

Chief Dalton Silver signs the Collaborative Framework. Photo Credit: Sumas First Nation.

Chief Dalton Silver signs the Collaborative Framework
Photo credit: Sumas First Nation

S’ólh Téméxw te íkw’elò. Xólhmet te mekw stám ít kwelát – This is our land.

Chief Silver hopes this multi-government agreement will help shape “a better place for future generations.” “By participating in this agreement, we are exercising our inherent right,” Chief Silver explains, “[t]his is just the beginning, but we are hopeful that this agreement will serve as a foundation for more collaborative efforts between different levels of government, and we will continue to work towards a sustainable and prosperous future for S’ólh Téméxw.”

Mandell Pinder LLP lawyer Elisa Penn, is honoured to have assisted Semá:th in these negotiations. Working with Stó:lō leaders to bring LET’SEMO:T principles to multi-government agreements has been a transformative experience.

Semá:th Approves Multi-Government Flood Mitigation Framework. Picture of collaborative team: Semá:th First Nation; Leq’a-mel First Nation; Matsqui First Nation; the Province of British Columbia; the City of Abbotsford; and the City of Chilliwack. Photo Credit: Sumas First Nation.

The Collaborative Framework Team
Photo credit: Sumas First Nation

For more information: