Leaders from the British Columbia and Tsilhqot’in governments are recommitting to reconciliation through work under the Nenqay Deni Accord.
A letter signed by Premier John Horgan and Tsilhqot’in Chair Chief Joe Alphonse renews both parties’ commitment to the Accord, and to the shared goal of achieving true and lasting reconciliation for the Tsilhqot’in people and British Columbia.
“We approached these discussions with respect and the intent to deepen our partnership,” said Premier Horgan. “In that spirit, we’ll work together to turn the goals outlined in the Accord into action that will benefit everyone.”
Key components of the letter are ensuring commitments are turned into action, leading to substantive progress under the Accord. The letter reaffirms the work of the five sub-tables formed under the terms of the Accord, and that the Province and the Tsilhqot’in will work together to make progress on the eight ‘pillars of reconciliation’ underpinning their work.
The pillars include a true government-to-government relationship, healthy and strong children, families and communities, language fluency and reducing conflict over lands and resources. They include support for the practical challenges of transitioning the management, benefit and control of the Declared Title Area and addressing socio-economic gaps.
“Today we’re committing to work with the Tsilhqot’in, neighbouring Nations and stakeholders to achieve certainty for residents of the Cariboo-Chilcotin,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “We know there are many different paths to reconciliation but the common thread is the importance of working transparently and collaboratively to find mutually beneficial solutions that make a difference in people’s day-to-day lives.”
“Today the new B.C. government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation have hit the reset button to re-launch and reinvigorate our reconciliation discussions under the Nenqay Deni Accord,” said Nits’il?in (Chief) Joe Alphonse, Tl’etinqox Government, TNG Tribal Chair. “This is a powerful statement of commitment from the new government. This work is tremendously important for the future of our people and for all British Columbians, so we are very excited today to celebrate a renewed relationship with the Province. We believe all the arrows are finally pointing in the same direction – something I never thought would happen. Now it is time to turn commitments into action and we look forward to the work ahead. The Tsilhqot’in appreciate Premier Horgan’s longstanding support of the Nation, including speaking in support of the exoneration of the Tsilhqot’in War Chiefs long before he became Premier.”
“The Letter of Commitment signed today sets the stage for a new, better relationship between the Tsilhqot’in and British Columbia,” said Nits’il?in (Chief) Russell Myers Ross, Yunesit’in First Nations Government. “For generations, our people have fought without compromise, have made every sacrifice, simply to live our way of life. My vision of reconciliation is one of peaceful coexistence between the Tsilhqot’in and other governments, supporting and enriching each other, based on mutual respect and reciprocity. The commitments of the new B.C. government to implement the Tsilhqot’in Nation judgment, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission bring us closer to that reality. We welcome the opportunity to bring those commitments to life on the ground, in our communities, for our Elders and our youth and for the generations to come.”
Both the Province and the Tsilhqot’in recognize the role of the federal government in achieving reconciliation. Full acknowledgement is given that the rights and interests of other First Nations must be respected at every stage of discussion and negotiation.
- In June 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada granted a declaration of Aboriginal title for a portion of Tsilhqot’in traditional territory, about 1,700 square kilometres in the Cariboo-Chilcotin. This is the first time the courts have granted a declaration of Aboriginal title in Canada.
- The Nenqay Deni Accord, signed in February 2016, is a five-year road map for longer-term negotiations between the B.C. government and the Tsilhqot’in Nation. It applies to the title lands described in the June 2014 Supreme Court case and the broader traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in Nation.
Nenqay Deni Accord: ow.ly/ZTHb30g9lpF
Tsilhqot’in National Government: www.tsilhqotin.ca
Letter of Commitment: ow.ly/PpYT30ggfhh