(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver BC) Following second-reading, Paul Martin's private member's bill, C-292 – An Act to Implement the Kelowna Accord, passed 159 -129 in the House of Commons with support from all parties except the governing Conservatives. The Bill sets out to ensure the agreements made at the First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal issues, held in Kelowna last November, will be honoured and implemented.
Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit Political Executive stated, "This is an important step taken by the House to implement the $5.1-billion commitment to the Kelowna agreement that was reached after 18 months of negotiations. The bill provides the opportunity for implementing an achievable and affordable plan aimed at bridging the socio-economic gap between First Nations and other Canadians."
"This recent vote is extremely encouraging in our efforts to find practical and sustainable solutions to eliminate the poverty and desperation of our people," commented BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Shawn Atleo. "It is imperative that we continue this momentum and encourage all parties to support this bill when it proceeds to final reading."
Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs noted "Final approval is fundamental for demonstrating and upholding the integrity of the Crown. Implementation of the agreement recognizes that First Nations people will no longer be relegated to the margins of society."
The private member's bill C-292 will now be presented to the all-party Aboriginal Affairs committee before returning to the House of Commons for a final vote.
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For further information contact:
Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: 250-490-5314
Heather Gillies, BC Assembly of First Nations: 604-837-6908
Colin Braker, First Nations Summit: 604-926-9903