The Government of British Columbia has underscored its commitment to work with Indigenous peoples in the spirit of respect and collaboration by introducing a set of draft principles designed to guide the daily work of provincial government employees. Don Wright, head of the BC Public Service shared the draft principles with all 27,000 public service employees on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
“We are deeply committed to true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia. These draft principles will help guide every government employee on a path of respect, partnership and collaboration in their work as ministries implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action,” said Premier John Horgan.
“It is important to emphasize that these principles are draft, and provide a starting point for necessary conversations with Indigenous peoples and First Nations leadership.”
The 10 draft principles are modelled on principles introduced by the federal government in 2017. The Province’s principles provide high-level guidance on how provincial representatives engage with Indigenous peoples. They address areas such as:
- The right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination and self-government, and the responsibility of government to change operating practices and processes to recognize these rights.
- The standard of conduct that government employees must demonstrate in all dealings with Indigenous peoples.
- The need for treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, to be based on recognition of inherent rights and respect.
- A focus on approaching “free, prior and informed consent” in a collaborative and constructive way when proposed actions by the provincial government affect Indigenous peoples and their rights.
“Members of the public service are uniquely positioned to transform the Province’s relationship with Indigenous peoples through the important work they do each and every day,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “The draft principles will build skills in every ministry to support government’s work towards reconciliation.”
Under every B.C. cabinet minister’s mandate letter, ministries are required to move forward on the Calls to Action and to review policies, programs and legislation to find ways to bring the principles of the UN declaration into action. This includes engaging with Indigenous communities when creating new policies and programs, reviewing services to make sure they are delivered in culturally intelligent ways, and renewing fiscal relationships in ways that help further Indigenous communities’ right to self-determination.
Many ministries and government agencies have work underway that aligns with the draft principles, including:
- revitalizing the environmental assessment process;
- improving B.C.’s approach to child welfare;
- incorporating traditional Indigenous knowledge into resource management; and
- revitalizing Indigenous languages.
Draft Principles: ow.ly/jjeh30k3qnr
Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action: www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf