Cheryl Casimer, a member of the Ktunaxa Nation and executive of the B.C. First Nations Summit, speaks to the B.C. legislature about UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, B.C. legislature, Oc. 24, 2019. (Don Craig/B.C. government)

B.C. builds on Indigenous reconciliation plan with summit

United Nations rights declaration to be endorsed this month

B.C. Premier John Horgan and the province’s Indigenous leaders have begun their annual summit with a pledge to break new ground by being the first jurisdiction in North America to endorse the United Nations call to enshrine aboriginal rights for land use.

Horgan opened proceedings at the Vancouver Convention Centre Tuesday with a pledge to work with business as the B.C. government passes legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The framework bill, which pledges to adapt B.C. laws to conform to the declaration, is expected to pass in the B.C. legislature by the end of November.

The entire B.C. cabinet is in Vancouver for the sixth annual summit, established by former premier Christy Clark. More than 600 one-on-one meetings are scheduled with the 900 people registered to attend. Other than Tuesday’s opening event, the summit is closed to the public and media.

Horgan and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser touched on steps already taken by the NDP government, including sharing gambling revenue. A $200 million fund was transferred in August, representing two years of funding, after Horgan’s promise at the last B.C. cabinet-first nations gathering.

RELATED: B.C. is first to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

RELATED: B.C. shares gambling revenue with Indigenous communities

The province set up a new organization called the B.C. First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing Limited Partnership to administer the funds, which the province says will reach $3 billion over the next 25 years when a long-term agreement is in place to provide seven per cent of casino and lottery revenues. The first $70 million has been paid out, some of it going to a housing project on the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation reserve near Fort Fraser, east of Prince George.

The previous B.C. Liberal government began sharing forest resources with the more than 200 B.C. Indigenous communities, most of whom still do not have treaties with the federal and provincial government. Mining revenue sharing followed, and the current government has pledged to fund on-reserve housing, historically the exclusive jurisdiction of Ottawa under the Indian Act.

In his speech to the summit, Horgan cited as a milestone for UN declaration the agreement to shut down salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago region off the north end of Vancouver Island.

COMMENTARY: If this isn’t an Indigenous veto, what is?

“If you want to do business in British Columbia, come and talk to the owners of the land,” Horgan said. “Come and talk to those who have inherent rights, and we will find a way forward.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Fort St. James Green Energy plant ‘offline’ until April

Plant manager said the biomass facility had an unforseen circumstance last December.

Feds should have extended EI, says displaced forestry worker

Only 11 workers in the district have been placed into other jobs via forestry placement office.

Mainly sunny Saturday, but cloudy weather in the forecast

Environment Canada weather report for the week of Feb. 24

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Man, 40, killed in hit and run in Fort St. James

One person is dead in a hit and run case that is… Continue reading

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Most Read