VANCOUVER – The B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering began today with optimism about the new government and a new partnership.
They delivered a unified commitment to a government-to-government relationship built upon the recognition of Indigenous title and rights. Premier John Horgan, joined by Grand Chief Edward John, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, A/Regional Chief Maureen Chapman and Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser opened the two-day event with a joint news conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
“We are at a pivotal moment in our province. We can see a path to meaningful reconciliation and a true government-to-government relationship,” said Premier Horgan. “We’re ready to do the hard work, together, to build healthy communities with Indigenous peoples, and to create jobs, economic stability and shared prosperity.”
The Premier highlighted the government’s strong cross-government commitments to work in partnership with First Nations and Indigenous peoples to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision.
“Our government has made reconciliation a cross-government priority, and we are working collaboratively and respectfully with First Nations to deliver a better future for everyone,” said Fraser. “This year’s Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering is where we begin the important conversations about how we forge the path towards reconciliation, with the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision, the UN Declaration and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action as our guide.”
“We are situated in a time of unique and unprecedented opportunity with two levels of government that are fully committed to recognizing Indigenous Peoples rightful place as self-governing nations. This gathering marks a historical moment as we break free from our colonial past and move towards true reconciliation of our Title and Rights,” said Assembly of First Nations A/Regional Chief Maureen Chapman. “I am hopeful to see real action, and change within our communities that reflect these commitments. BCAFN will work in partnership with the provincial government to ensure the full expression of our Title and Rights as we support BC First Nations in exercising these foundational pieces of our Nations.”
“We look forward to this week’s meetings between BC First Nations Chiefs and leaders and Premier John Horgan and his Cabinet to engage in a valuable and timely discussion on key NDP commitments including the full adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls-to-action and full recognition and implementation of the Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision,” said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit. “This week’s session will provide a clear signal to BC First Nations on the new government’s willingness to work with us on a government-to-government basis to achieve reconciliation and full recognition of First Nations title, rights and treaty rights.”
“The recognition of our inherent Indigenous Title and Rights, through the implementation of the UN Declaration and the enactment of the TRC Calls-to-Action are vital and welcomed NDP election promises,” said Secretary-Treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson. “Perseverance and persistence will be needed from this government to undo the previous government’s years of intentional undercutting of Indigenous Title and Rights. Real actions are needed to bring significant and meaningful change to Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous communities, and Indigenous families.”
- The provincial government has committed to now adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which has been accepted by 148 nations, including the Government of Canada.
- In all government ministers’ mandate letters, the Premier included a requirement that they review policies, programs and legislation to determine how to bring the principles of UNDRIP to action in British Columbia.
- The new government will also accept and implement the 94 Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, and will work with First Nations and the Government of Canada to do this.
- The B.C. government has committed to implementing the recommendations from Grand Chief Ed John’s report, Indigenous Resilience, Connectedness and Reunification – From Root Causes to Root Solutions, and provide better supports so Indigenous children grow up in their communities and not in care.
- The Province made it a priority to provide support to Indigenous communities seeking to revitalize connections to their languages. The revitalization of language is a human right as asserted within the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- The new government will also work in partnership with First Nations to expand opportunities for sharing gaming revenue.
- This year, the First Nations Leadership Council and the government introduced for the first time the opportunity for communities to bring a youth representative to the gathering.
- In addition to the Premier and cabinet ministers, government caucus members, Green Party members, the MLA for Skeena, and the opposition critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation have also been invited to attend.
- The two-day gathering is jointly organized by the First Nations Leadership Council and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. It is one of the largest gatherings of provincial and First Nations leaders in Canada.
- The gathering is held on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations.