The Stó:lō Nation Society, as it exists today, evolved from several organizations that emerged in response to the Trudeau government's 1969 Liberal Indian Policy, usually referred to as the White Paper. If successful, the White Paper would have resulted in changes to the Statutes of Canada and the British North America Act. The Department of Indian Affairs (DIA) would have ceased to exist and all benefits accorded to Status Indians would have ended. Aboriginal people across Canada would have been assimilated according to federal and provincial government policies.
DIA Indian Agencies became known as District Councils in the 1960's. The East Fraser District Council (EFDC) was a grouping of twenty four Stó:lō bands between Fort Langley and Yale. District Councils were intended to facilitate the administration of DIA benefits and services but had the unanticipated effect of creating cohesion amongst the members who began to focus on rights and title and the “land question”. In November of 1975, the EFDC presented the Land Claims Action Proposal to the UBCIC. It started with the statement that “This is not a proposal for land claims research; it is a proposal for land claims action.” and went on to say “Land Claims is directly related to the everyday needs of (1) housing (2) employment opportunities (3) education, etc.” The Stó:lō Declaration and the Declaration of Native Title presented by the EFDC at this time are clearly based on the same principles.
The Chilliwack Area Indian Council (CAIC) was formed in 1970 when the local DIA office was closed. Initially representing 21 bands, by 1975 there were 14 member bands and Chief Richard Malloway (Yakweakwioose), Chief Sam Douglas (Cheam) and Chief Andrew Alex (Union Bar) formed the executive. CAIC was solely concerned with the provision of services and was the first Stó:lō authority delegated to administer benefits under the DIA's health, social assistance and education programs.
Between the early 1970s and 1994, a number of Stó:lō political and service delivery organizations grew out of the EFDC and the CAIC. These included the Stó:lō Forum, Stó:lō Nation Canada, Stó:lō Political Branch, and Stó:lō Tribal Council. As early as 1980, Chief Steven Point proposed the amalgamation of all Stó:lō service agencies.
By 1994, Stó:lō Nation Canada (SNC) and the Stó:lō Tribal Council (STC) agreed to form a single organization under the leadership of Chief Steven Point. In 1995 the Stó:lō Nation submitted a Statement of Intent to the British Columbia Treaty Commission identifying our collective aboriginal rights and title extending beyond the EFDC and including our traditional territory from the Dry rack Fishery above Yale to the Salt Water resources of what is now known as the Salish Sea. Twenty one bands joined the Stó:lō Nation Society with Chiefs Charles Douglas, Michelle Douglas, Marilyn Gabriel, Ken Malloway, Lester Ned, Steven Point and Bruce Sam forming the first Board of Directors, known as the Special Chiefs Council. The Constitution, signed on June 30th 1995, states in part that the purposes of the Society are to:
- Revive and maintain Stó:lō cultural values, re-establish self-government, maintain healthy Stó:lō communities
- Maintain and enhance our unique Stó:lō identity
- Support the growth of Stó:lō identity in our children
- Assist the general public to better understand and appreciate Stó:lō culture, traditions and spirituality
- Improve capacity within our Stó:lō community to create and carry out Stó:lō policy, programs and services.
The Annual Report for 1995-96 includes the report of the Chiefs' Representative, Steven Point, as well as those from the Aboriginal Rights and Title Department, Community Development and Health and Social Development. The total budget for 1995/1996 was $18,174,722.00. * The old Coqualeetza Indian Hospital garage was renovated and, on April 16th, 1995, Shxwt'a:selhawtxw was officially opened to house the Longhouse Extension Program.
Change and the idea that change equals progress emerge as consistent themes in the ensuing years as SN staff worked towards implementing the mission statement of creating a better world for the Stó:lō. Some milestones: 16 April, 1995, Shxwt'a:selhawtxw (Longhouse Extension Program) officially opened; September 10th, 1999 grand opening of Government House; March 2001 responsibility for child welfare transferred from the Ministry of Children and Families to Stó:lō Nation (building on the first delegation agreement that was signed in 1995); 28 November 2003, completion of the new facility for the Head Start Program and the Day Care Program.
By Fiscal Year 2003-2004 the structure of SN looked quite different than it did in 1995. The Chief Executive Officer, Joe Hall, oversaw the following programs and services:
Aboriginal Justice Program
Fisheries Planning and Management
Planning and Policy Development
SN Human Resource Development
Financial Services, Administrative Services, Child and Family Services, Health Services, Community Development and Treaty were managed by individual directors. Portfolio holders in the Lalems Ye Stó:lō Si:yá:m were:
Chief Lydia Archie (Community Development)
Councilor Ken Malloway (Fishing and Hunting)
Chief Doug Kelly (Finance)
Stó:lō Siyá:m Tyrone McNeil (Health, Child and Family Services)
Stó:lō Yewal Siyá:m Clarence Pennier (Lands and Environment and Treaty).
In 2004, the unified SN, which had been providing services and programs to 19 member bands, had to deal with the withdrawal of 8 bands that chose to join the newly reconstituted Stó:lō Tribal Council. This resulted in changes to the structure of SN departments. Every effort was made to ensure that programs and services continued to be delivered efficiently with the least possible disruption to Stó:lō community members
Health Facility opened 2004
Pekw'xe:yles (St Mary's) Addition to Reserve 30 June 2005
Xyolhemeylh severed effective 1 April 2006
Coqualeetza ATR ongoing
Stó:lō Elders Lodge construction began 2006; opened May 2007.
Plant, Byron. “In Principle: Stó:lō Political Organizations and Attitudes Towards Treaty since 1969 Stó:lō Ethnohistory Field School Paper, 2002.
Tennant, Paul. Aboriginal Peoples and Politics: The Indian Land Question in British Columbia, 1849 – 1989. Vancouver: UBC, 1990.
Stó:lō History and Information: Before you know where you are going you must know where you've been. ed. by Clarence Pennier. Booklet compiled for the Stó:lō Tribal Council, 1994.