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.

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

Just Posted

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Surrey RCMP investigate report of explosion at home

‘Emotionally elevated’ person taken ‘safely’ into custody: police

Man killed in fall from Civic Hotel balcony in Surrey

Heavy emergency services presence in plaza at the skyscraper, at 13475 Central Ave.

Outdoor skating rink at free Winter Festival in Surrey, with food trucks and more

At Guildford Town Centre, hit the ice for free with your own skates or rent some for donation

Ride-hailing arrives in North Delta

Uber’s picking up passengers in North Delta, Ladner, but Tsawwassen is still waiting for the service

Women take centre stage at NHL all-star skills competition

Canada beat the United States 2-1 in a spirited 3-on-3 game between female players Friday night

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

5 things you need to know to start using ridesharing in Metro Vancouver

From how to get started to where drivers can take you, heres all you need to know

Most Read