Council of Chiefs

From Dominion of British Columbia

Okook pej kopa Chinook Wawa: Sawash Tyees yaka House

The Council of Chiefs is one of the two chambers of the Parliament of British Columbia. A non-partisan house comprised of the chiefs of the 31 recognised Tribal Governments (which are identical to the Indigenous Administrative Districts (IADs), its duty is to review bills passed in the House of Commons. If a bill is then passed by the Council of Chiefs, it is submitted to the Governor General for Royal Assent, upon which the bill becomes law. If the Council of Chiefs rejects the bill, it is returned to the House of Commons for reconsideration or rejection.

Unlike Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, the period of service of the Chiefs are not mandated by Dominion law. Instead, it is determined by the laws of the individual tribes, and in many cases, the chieftaincy is hereditary.

The only IAD not to be represented in the Council of Chiefs is Utari Mosir.


From 1875, the upper house of the BC Parliament was known as the Senate, whose members were appointed by the Governor General on recommendation from the Sovereign, the Senate Appointments Committee, or the Prime Minister.

At the end of the second parliamentary session of 1972 the Senate was abolished, to be reconvened for the first session of 1973 in its current form, as a way to give First Nations a more direct role in government. Although this transformation of the Senate was implemented by the Labour government of PM Dave Barrett, the preparations were begun already during the Fifth Bennett Ministry under then-PM Sir W. A. C. Bennett, who started the process in 1967. Over the following three years the various traditional tribal governments were amalgamated into the 31 officially-recognised Tribal Governments. These are purely political entities and do not affect the functioning of the traditional tribal governments, although the unifications that brought the new "official" tribal governments have in almost all cases helped to unify the tribes which they encompass.


  • Dakelh-Tsilhqot'in (Carrier-Chilcotin)
  • Sts'ailes (Chehalis)
  • Esketemc - Llenlleney'ten
  • Gitxsan
  • Kenpesq’t (Kinbasket Shuswap)
  • Lil'wat (Lillooet)
  • Lower Stl'atl'imx
  • Musgamagw Tsawateineuk
  • Nkwala (Nicola)
  • Northern Secwépemc (Northern Shuswap)
  • Nuu-chah-nulth
  • Owikeno - Kitasoo
  • Peace River
  • Similkameen - Okanagan
  • Skatin - Samahquam
  • Tseil-Waututh - Kwikwetlem
  • Tsk'weylecw