|First Nations Leadership Council Information Bulletin - September 2007|
VOLUME 2, ISSUE 7
On March 17, 2005, the Regional Chief of the BCAFN, the Task Group of the FNS, and the political executive of the UBCIC signed the Leadership Accord.
The mandate of the FNLC is determined only through the mandates of each of its participating organizations – the BCAFN, FNS, and UBCIC – as established via resolution of their respective memberships.
On September 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by an overwhelming majority of 143 in favour, 4 opposed and 11 abstentions. This Declaration, which has been in development for more than two decades, is intended to recognize the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples. Fundamental human rights which have been upheld in this Declaration include the inherent rights related to our traditional lands, territories and natural resources, our self-determination, our unqualified recognition as Peoples, our own cultures, languages and identities. The adoption of the Declaration by the United Nations may transform the lives of millions of Indigenous People around the world.
On August 21, 2007, the FNLC met with the new Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Hon. Chuck Strahl and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Hon. Michael de Jong. This meeting was hosted in Ktunaxa Nation Territory (Cranbrook).
In the New Relationship, commitments were made to a new government-to-government relationship based on respect, recognition and accommodation of aboriginal title and rights and to reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions. First Nations and the Province also agreed to establish processes and institutions for shared decision-making about the land and resources and for revenue and benefit sharing. The New Relationship acknowledges that aboriginal title includes the inherent right for the community to make decisions as to the use of the land.
A key item in the BC First Nations Fisheries Action Plan is the establishment of a BC First Nations Fisheries Council. The FNLC was been mandated, through resolution, to hold a province-wide meeting, open to all BC First Nations, to develop the First Nations Fisheries Council concept. This BC First Nations Fisheries Council Forum was held on May 29-30, hosted by Musqueam Nation at the Crown St. Gym. Delegates to the Forum developed a “BC First Nations Fisheries Council Concept Paper”, which was adopted by resolution of the BCAFN and UBCIC in June. The FNLC has recently sent a call for applications to the BC First Nations Fisheries Council and will make appointments to the Council by the end of September. Please contact us if you did not receive the call for submissions.
On September 5-6, the FNLC Aquaculture Working Group met with the Provincial government. The purpose of the Working Group is to work with provincial representatives to make recommendations to Cabinet on aquaculture matters in BC, in the spirit of the New Relationship and guided by the BC First Nations Fisheries Action Plan.
The FNLC is working with federal and provincial governments to develop a high-level Memorandum of Understanding on Housing and Infrastructure. This MoU will commit the Parties to work collaboratively to develop interlinked on- and off-reserve housing and infrastructure strategies.
The FNLC hosted a meeting in July to discuss BC First Nations economic development and human resource development. The meeting was attended by federal and provincial governments, First Nations representatives, and the business community. This group agreed to explore the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish an Economic Development Partners Group – an advisory body on First Nations economic development. A small working group has been struck to develop this MoU and a framework for a province-wide BC First Nations Economic Development Strategy.
The First Nations Health Council is currently developing workplans and budgets pursuant to the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan and the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan. Priority areas for this year include: community health plans; governance structure for First Nations health in BC; mental health and addictions (including healing residential school traumas); ehealth; and chronic disease management (including a First Nations ActNow program). Community engagement is also a key priority, and dialogue sessions will be held throughout the province in the fall.
A group of individuals and organizations with an interest in Early Childhood Development (including the FNLC, First Nations Education Steering Committee, First Nations Schools Association, Aboriginal Human Resource Development Agreements, First Nations Health Council, BC Aboriginal Child Care Society and others) have been meeting to discuss ways to improve coordination and collaboration amongst themselves, to improve the lives of BC First Nations children. The group (“BC First Nations Early Childhood Development Council”) has produced a Memorandum of Understanding that was approved at the June BCAFN meeting. The Council has also been mandated to develop a draft BC First Nations Early Childhood Development Action Plan for review and consideration of BC First Nations.
On September 13, over 60 First Nations participants involving chiefs and technical staff from across the province wrapped up two days of information sharing and strategic planning on the provincial land referral system.
The Prince George workshop dealt with a host of issues related to the referral system which is responsible for inundating First Nations communities with complex information requests under short timelines. Participants resolved to collaborate in the development of new technologies including new policy proposals to help them deal with referrals.
A workshop summary report will be prepared over the coming weeks and presented to First Nations and the First Nations Leadership Council.
Culture and Heritage
The existing Heritage Conservation Act and associated management regime does not recognize Aboriginal Title and Rights, nor does it adequately address the needs and interests of First Nations as it relates to their culture and heritage resources. A Joint Working Group on First Nations Heritage Conservation has been created to work with BC to a) make recommendations with respect to amendments to the Heritage Conservation Act, b) identify culture and heritage site management possibilities within the existing legislative regime and c) improve the protection and conservation of First Nations heritage sites, cultural property, ancient human remains and sacred and spiritual sites.
A BC First Nations Justice Forum took place on May 14-16, 2007, at the Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites in Vancouver, BC. These discussions resulted in a draft BC First Nations Justice Action Plan which was subsequently shared with all BC First Nations for their review and comment. The revised Action Plan was endorsed by resolution of the BCAFN and UBCIC in June. A related resolution was passed in support of a key action item in the Action Plan – the formation of a BC First Nations Justice Council. Work will now begin to identify representatives and resources for the Justice Council.
At the recommendation of First Nations, this section of the information bulletin is to describe FNLC discussion and meetings.
· September 19-21: UBCIC Annual General Assembly
The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs:
BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief A-in-chut, Shawn Atleo;
First Nations Summit Task Group members Grand Chief Edward John, Chief Judith Sayers, Dave Porter;
Union of BC Indian Chiefs President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Vice-President Chief Robert Shintah; Chief Lynda Price
The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.