Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs; Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the BC Assembly of First Nations; and Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit have issued the following statement on the final day of the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering in Vancouver on Coast Salish Territory:
COAST SALISH TERRITORY/VANCOUVER – “In July 2017, when the new government was sworn in, it was seen as an opportunity to reset the clock on the relationship between the Province and Indigenous peoples in British Columbia and to work in partnership with communities to advance reconciliation and build government-to-government relations based on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous title and inherent rights. The 5th annual B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering was a great setting to take the temperature on progress and move our work together forward for the coming year.
“The gathering is important because it is a chance for leaders from all First Nations in B.C. to meet one-to-one with provincial ministers to discuss matters of concern and interest in their communities. It is also a valuable opportunity to connect with other community leaders, share best practices and talk about what work is happening on the ground.
“This year, there were 675 one-to-one meetings with 132 Nations, which is a new record for this gathering and speaks strongly to the value that both the provincial government and First Nations leaders place on face-to-face discussions. Almost 600 people attended, more than half of whom were First Nations delegates representing 168 nations. Our joint priority is to take those conversations to build on the work already happening and assess what new work needs to be done to address the needs of communities.
“Government-to-government relationships between the Province and First Nations are beginning to move forward together on two important new initiatives that strongly support reconciliation: sharing a portion of provincial gaming revenues with all First Nations in the province and co-developing legislation to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“There is still a great deal to do, and to help shape our work together, delegates discussed many diverse issues including: gender-based violence, economic development, poverty reduction, fisheries, environmental assessment, education and children and families. All of these are important topics that must be woven into the cross-government vision of reconciliation to ensure the needs of Indigenous peoples are part of every conversation on future programs, policy and legislation.
“We would like to thank all the First Nations leaders who attended the gathering. Their frank words and thoughtful input will help to lead us through the next year working in partnership to sustain Indigenous communities in every corner of British Columbia.”