MLAs applaud Indigenous leaders as B.C.’s pioneering legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is introduced in the B.C. legislature, Oct. 24, 2019. (B.C. government)

B.C. Indigenous rights overhaul first job of 2020, John Horgan says

Premier speaks to Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa next week

Giving royal assent to B.C.’s latest batch of laws this week, Lt. Governor Janet Austin singled out one for special mention – the world’s first official adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

That’s unusual, and it is for good reason, Premier John Horgan told reporters after the fall session of the B.C. legislature adjourned.

“It will transform how we do business in B.C. for the better,” Horgan said. “Unanimous support in the legislature, business interests around the province, in fact around the country, looking to B.C. as a leader in how we better make all of the people of British Columbia benefit from the extraordinary bounty we have here.”

Work begins in January to start amending B.C. laws to meet the dozens of objectives of UNDRIP, and the first set of changes is expected in the spring session that begins in February, Horgan said.

RELATED: B.C. environmental law overhauled to comply with UNDRIP

RELATED: B.C. to transfer $100M from gambling to Indigenous people

“I think the patience of Indigenous communities has been well demonstrated over the 200 years of colonial activity here in B.C. and across Canada,” Horgan said. “I’ve been invited to speak to the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa next week about what we’ve been able to accomplish here, and I’m sure I’ll get some advice from elders and others about how we proceed in the new year.”

Horgan praised the B.C. Liberal and Green Parties for joining his government’s support for the change, after detailed questioning of its implications over the past two weeks.

“I want to ensure that the public understand that this is not just the NDP who’s doing this,” Horgan said.

B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong, a former minister of finance, Indigenous relations and justice, led the opposition questioning on Bill 41, described as a “framework” bill committing the province to dozens of clauses in the UN document.

De Jong asked about UNDRIP Article 39, which states: “Indigenous peoples have the right to have access to financial and technical assistance from states and through international cooperation, for the enjoyment of rights contained in this declaration.”

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser said UNDRIP “does not create a positive obligation on the part of the state, but there will be conversations about funding from the provincial government.”

B.C. has already signed an agreement to share seven per cent of B.C. Lottery Corporation net income, which the province estimates will amount to $100 million over the 23-year term of the deal.

Environment Minister George Heyman has completed a rewrite of B.C.’s Environment Assessment Act, after a consultation tour including mining, forest industry and union representatives.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pipeline at centre of B.C. conflict is creating jobs for First Nations: chief

All 20 elected band councils along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route have signed benefits agreements

Job placement office open in Fort St. James

Office being opened for forestry workers affected by mill closures

RCMP create access control checkpoint on Morice West Forest Service Road

Premier says Coastal GasLink project will proceed despite opposition

Horgan says ‘rule of law applies,’ Coastal GasLink will proceed despite protests

The 670-kilometre pipeline is part of a $40 billion liquefied natural gas project

Extreme cold warning in effect for Stuart-Nechako region

It’s been a cold weekend and the frigid conditions are going to… Continue reading

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read