MUSQUEAM, SQUAMISH AND TSLEIL-WAUTUTH TERRITORIES/VANCOUVER - Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the BC Assembly of First Nations, Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs have issued the following statement on the final day of the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering:
“Leaders from the Province and First Nations in every part of B.C. gathered for two days of constructive discussions about how we can move forward together and put historic progress to recognize Indigenous human rights into action.
“The sixth annual B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering was a great setting to reflect on what we accomplished in the past year together, with the transfer of shared gaming revenues and the introduction of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
“First Nations leaders, ministers and senior government officials benefit enormously from meeting face-to-face to talk about what’s important in communities. Everyone here has had many productive conversations that will set the priorities for the work ahead of us.
“This year, there were more than 650 one-on-one meetings with 151 Nations, a record number. More than 900 people attended the gathering, more than half of whom were First Nations delegates representing 179 Nations. The BC Green Party caucus and 10 members of the BC Liberal Party caucus also attended.
“In addition, there were important discussions about vital issues, such as emergency management, tackling climate change, revitalizing languages, the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, rights recognition and self-determination, child care, education and accessibility. And the participation of the Indigenous youth caucus is a valuable reminder that everything we do together is about building a brighter future for the generations to come after us.
“We will all leave here today and get right back to the important work ahead of us, but we will be better informed for having been here, with deepened relationships that will stand us in good stead for the work ahead. And we’ll have a clearer understanding of what still needs to be done.
“Our most immediate priority will be to see the passage of Bill 41, so that together we can start developing the action plan mandated under the new act. We can all agree we have a lot to do together to move forward, and while the new legislation will not fix everything, it sets us upon the foundation of human rights, which is the right direction.
“We would like to thank all the First Nations leaders who attended the gathering. Your honest and thoughtful contributions will guide us during the next year as we work together so Indigenous communities throughout British Columbia can thrive and prosper.”