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

Surrey restaurants to benefit from city’s patio plan

Pilot program will permit the use of temporary outdoor areas. It’s meant to be enacted fast, for the summer months

Humbled by hit song ‘Pillow Talkin,’ Surrey musician aims to build on humanitarian work

‘People are still trying to figure out who the heck I am,’ Tyler Joe Miller says

Surrey council gives OK for barber shop to serve booze

Critics called the idea ridiculous and dreadful

‘Paralyzed by fear’: South Surrey woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Cloverdale food drive supports Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank

Event raises nearly $10,000 in cash and non-perishable goods for Surrey’s newest food bank

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

28 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in ong-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Importance of accurate, ethical reporting more critical than ever

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

Most Read