Premier John Horgan believes that the draft principles issued will be able to guide every government employee on a path of respect with Indigenous peoples (Photo/Black Press Files)

Draft principles for relationships with Indigenous issued

Principles set to guide daily work of government employees

According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, the Government of British Columbia has introduced a set of draft principles designed to guide the conduct and daily work of provincial government employees to further build relationships with Indigenous peoples of B.C.

The draft principles come due to the Government of B.C.’s ongoing effort to respectfully work and collaborate with Indigenous peoples, according to the release.

“We are deeply committed to true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia. These draft principles will help guide every government employee on a path of respect, partnership and collaboration in their work as ministries implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action,” said Premier John Horgan.

“It is important to emphasize that these principles are draft and provide a starting point for necessary conversations with Indigenous peoples and First Nations leadership,” said Horgan.

Per the news release, the 10 draft principles, which were shared with the 27,000 public service employees who currently work in B.C. by Don Wright, the head of BC Public Service on May 22, are modelled on previous principles that were introduced by the federal government in 2017. The release states that the principles intend to provide high-level guidance on how provincial representatives engage with Indigenous peoples.

Some of the areas addressed in the principles include the standard of conduct that government employees must exhibit when dealing with Indigenous peoples, as well as the need for treaties, agreements and other arrangements to be based on the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples of B.C, among others.

“Members of the public service are uniquely positioned to transform the Province’s relationship with Indigenous peoples through the important work they do each and every day,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “The draft principles will build skills in every ministry to support government’s work towards reconciliation.”

According to the release, every B.C. ministry is required to take move forward on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, by reviewing policies, programs and legislation, all to ensure the principles of the UN declaration are put into action.

This includes engaging with Indigenous communities when creating new policies and maintaining and enforcing Indigenous communities’ right to self-determination and self-government, per the release.

In a separate release, Adam Olsen, the B.C. Green Party spokesperson for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation embraced the draft principles for the public service on relationships with Indigenous peoples.

“I am pleased with the direction of this government on advancing relationships with Indigenous people in British Columbia,” said Olsen.

“We are operating under a system that was devised long before our government committed to approaching Indigenous people as equal partners,” continued Olsen. “It is going to take an all-of-government approach in order to successfully advance reconciliation. From the Ministers and Deputy Ministers to every civil servant, a shift of this scale in how the civil service is informed and makes decisions will not be easy.”

Olsen also noted that despite optimism regarding the framework these draft principles create, there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We have a lot of work ahead and many questions to answer, but I believe Minister (Scott) Fraser has proven to be genuine and sincere in this work,” said Olsen. “That is an important place to start. I look forward to seeing how these principles are implemented in practice and to participating in the process towards finalizing them so that we can fulfill our CASA commitments to adopt UNDRIP, the TRC calls-to-action and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court Decision.”

For further information regarding the particular draft principles, visit ow.ly/jjeh30k3qnr

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