Media Contacts

Jimmy Smith

Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier

Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Declaration Act Secretariat

Media Relations
250 896-4348

Marie Alaimo

New Relationship Trust


What First Nations leaders are saying about the Declaration Act Engagement Fund

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president, Union of BC Indian Chiefs –

“We welcome this significant announcement, which is an overdue response to the longstanding calls of First Nations for consistent capacity funding. For decades, governments have dropped onerous requests on First Nations for engagement, consultation and input in highly complex legal, regulatory and policy issues, often with no advanced warning and little time to respond. Although these issues directly and disproportionately impacted our people, land and futures, these ‘opportunities’ to provide input did not consider the extremely limited capacity of and immense demands on First Nations, and no response was often interpreted as approval. This announcement is undoubtedly a positive and foundational step in the implementation of the UN Declaration, but I call on Premier Eby to ensure that this funding is long-term, flexible and meets the needs of all First Nations in B.C.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations –

“Today’s decision by the B.C. government to provide funding for the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is a required and crucial milestone that the First Nations Leadership Council has long advocated for. This commitment to uphold the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a recognition of the importance of Indigenous-led policy and law-making. As we move forward, the ongoing dialogue and partnership-building process with First Nations leaders and communities will breathe life into the principles of the Declaration Act and be translated into tangible actions that address and support Nation-building. Providing sustained and meaningful investment builds capacity that helps to ensure a future of strong and stable Nations.”

Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit Political Executive –

“We applaud B.C. for today’s announcement regarding the creation of the Declaration Act Engagement Fund. This fund represents a continuing commitment to reconciliation and direct engagement with First Nations Title and Rights holders across B.C. This fund is a valuable beginning in providing B.C. First Nations with the desperately needed financial resources necessary to improve their capacity and begin enabling proper engagement with provincial officials on Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act implementation. Three and a half years ago, we were excited by the passage of the Declaration Act. We saw it as a means to turning the page on the provincial government’s shameful history of denying our rights and leading to a new era and path for building respectful and modern government-to-government relationships where First Nations governments are included in all decisions that affect them, their citizens and their territories. We look forward to seeing the positive outcomes that result from this important investment.”

Information about the Declaration Act and Declaration Act Engagement Fund
  • The New Relationship Trust is an independent non-profit organization, established in 2006, that is dedicated to strengthening First Nations in B.C. through capacity building and funding in five key development areas: education, Elders and youth, governance capacity, language and culture, and economic development.
  • The primary purpose of the Declaration Act Engagement Fund is to support the implementation of the Declaration Act Action Plan and commitments to align provincial legislation with the UN Declaration, both of which must be undertaken in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples.
  • On Nov. 28, 2019, B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through legislation by unanimously passing the Declaration Act on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
  • On March 31, 2022, B.C. released the Declaration Act Action Plan, which includes 89 tangible, achievable cross-government actions in the areas of self-determination and self-government, rights and title, ending anti-Indigenous racism, and enhancing social, cultural and economic well-being.
  • The Province committed to co-developing a new fiscal framework with First Nations through the 2018 Concrete Actions Document.
  • In the Declaration Act Action Plan, the Province committed to co-developing a new distinctions-based fiscal framework to support the operation of Indigenous governments.
  • Established in 2022, the Declaration Act Secretariat, led by deputy minister Jessica Wood/Si Sityaawks, is co-ordinating and assisting cross-government efforts to work in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples to align laws with the UN Declaration.