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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Blockades violating people’s rights to move freely

Too many protesters clearly believe their rights supersede other citizens’ rights, says letter writer

Students projected to be in new wing of École Hammond Bay in two years

Project to expand north-end French immersion school to add 13 classrooms

Crimson Coast Dance Society salutes African dance during Black History Month

Dancers from Mozambique, Rwanda and Cameroon to give demonstrations and lessons

Nanaimo Clippers, clad in Snuneymuxw jerseys, win in OT

BCHL team wins both its weekend games to stay in contention for first place on the Island

Nanaimo-bound ferry breaks down, but another available for service

Two sailings cancelled Sunday on Tsawwassen-Duke Point route

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Captain says nothing beats VIU volleyball program

Graduating player Andrea Cankovic has three national titles and isn’t quite done yet

Quilting a labour of love for Nanaimo women’s church group

Hope Lutheran women craft 1,000 quilts for humanitarian cause

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Most Read