Proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation

Important Meeting Notice

UPDATE: July 14, 2009 - Letter to UBCIC Chiefs Council

Re: Proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation Process-to-Date and Next Steps

The UBCIC Executive takes this opportunity to provide an update regarding the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation.

The legislative initiative was a step which the UBCIC, First Nations Summit and BCAFN mandated the FNLC to advance with the Province, designed to compel the Province to implement commitments contained in the New Relationship (2005), including to recognize Aboriginal title and rights, to respect First Nations’ laws and responsibilities, to reconcile Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions, and to close the socio-economic gap through agreements about revenue and benefit sharing.

In February 2009, a “Discussion Paper on Instructions for Implementing the New Relationship” (the “Discussion Paper”) was released to generate dialogue on the proposed legislative initiative. A series of regional sessions and community visits to explore the content of the Discussion Paper have been held with First Nations across the Province, and these are continuing.

In many ways, the first several community/Tribal group visits represented a 'test drive' of the original discussion paper. Based on the feedback, it is clear that many concepts expressed in the Discussion Paper are unacceptable. Concerns have been raised, including that ‘reconstitution’ will interfere with self-determination; that the Indigenous Nation Commission could become another bureaucracy; that there is risk of including Aboriginal title recognition in legislation which also recognizes Crown title in any form; that the nature, scope and substance of the title being recognized will weaken the title recognition within s. 35. We have heard questions raised whether the Province has jurisdiction to pass such legislation, and doubts expressed whether they will implement it. Questions have also been raised about the absence of Canada.

We have also heard expressed the opportunities which title recognition could bring. Consistently we heard the message, "we generally accept and support the concept of the need to achieve recognition, but not in its current form". In other words, not as currently articulated in the original Discussion Paper. The Discussion Paper has done its job, but it has now become an impediment to carrying forward a constructive and productive dialogue.

Consequently, on June 25th, the FNLC made a decision to 'set aside' the discussion paper to provide the space and opportunity to carry on an inclusive and cohesive dialogue. The Recognition Working Group (“RWG”), who had been instructed to develop with the Province language that might serve as detailed instructions to legislative drafters, has been directed to stop that work and not engage in any legislative drafting.

We believe our decision has significantly improved the tone of our dialogue; both politically and legally. When we finalize our Regional and community sessions, we will be in a position to deliver a summary report to the delegates of a Provincial-wide meeting at the end of August.

We welcome the formation of a lawyers’ caucus comprised of First Nations’ lawyers who wish to participate, who are working together to prepare other options for consideration at the All Chiefs’ Assembly this summer.

We are at an important time in answering the land question. We have an opportunity unlike any other in our history. The Province has been compelled through law and politics to agree to recognition of title. We must use this opportunity well. Through recognition legislation or other initiatives, we must now compel the provincial government and every civil servant to act based on recognition and not denial of Aboriginal title. Now it is time to listen to our communities. We believe we will be given clear direction in terms of a ‘forward looking’ mandate when we next meet.

United we stand; divided we perish. We will work together to identify consensus for the steps we will collectively take together.

Sincerely,

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
President

Chief Robert Shintah
Vice-President

Chief Robert Chamberlin
Secretary-Treasurer

PDF COPY IS AVAILABLE HERE


UPDATE: Regional Sessions on the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation

TO: BC First Nations
From: BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), First Nations Summit (FNS) and Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Date: June 12, 2009
Re: Updated list of dates for Regional Sessions on the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation


Date: June 15, 2009
Location: Esketemc First Nation Hall, Alkali Lake (11 AM Start)

Date: June 17, 2009
Location: St. Eugene Mission Resort, Cranbrook (9 AM – 4 PM)

Date: June 24 & 25, 2009
Location: Kitsumkalum Hall, Terrace, BC (9 AM Start both days)

Date: June 29, 2009
Location: Gold River (hosted by Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council), location TBC

Date: June 29, 2009
Location: Kamloops Indian Band (5 PM start)

Date: July 8 & 9, 2009
Location: Vancouver Island Location TBC

Date: July 15 & 16, 2009
Location: Tzeachten Hall, Chilliwack (9 AM Start both days)

Date: July 29 & 30, 2009
Location: Fort St. John, Location TBC

If you wish to participate in this process but you are unable to attend the regional session being held in your area, please feel free to attend a session held in another region.

We hope you can join us at these important sessions. Please do not hesitate to contact any of our offices if you have any questions.


To: BC First Nations
From: BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), First Nations Summit (FNS) and Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Date: May 11, 2009
Re: Regional Sessions on the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation (May – July 2009)



Purpose of Regional Sessions

In February 2009, the First Nations Leadership Council and the Government of British Columbia released an outline of the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Legislation. This outline was discussed at the All Chiefs meeting on February 25, 2009, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs meeting on March 2, 2009 and the First Nations Summit meeting held March 4-6, 2009. The First Nations Leadership Council received a considerable amount of valuable feedback at those sessions and through subsequent meetings and correspondence with First Nations.

Following the discussions and resolutions at the assemblies, the First Nations Leadership Council requests and invites further First Nations input and direction on this important initiative at each stage of the process. We are therefore holding regional sessions over the next three months to seek advice and direction from First Nations on the key issues of “indigenous nations” and “comprehensive agreements”. These issues are important, as one of our main objectives is to establish a framework for the negotiation of comprehensive agreements that fully implement BC’s commitment to recognition of Aboriginal title and rights in the legislation.

In particular, the First Nations Leadership Council would like your advice on:

• Who should the BC government negotiate comprehensive agreements with?

• What should be the elements of comprehensive agreements? In particular, what provisions should be included with respect to shared-decision making and revenue and benefit sharing?

• What should be the role of an indigenous nations commission?

The First Nations Leadership Council will be presenting a number of options and considerations for review in relation to each of these questions. The advice provided by First Nations during these regional sessions will be used to inform the further development of the legislative proposal. Following the regional sessions, the First Nations Leadership Council intends to bring the legislative proposal to an All Chiefs meeting for review by the Chiefs.


Joint Statement of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, BC AFN and the First Nations Summit 

Discussion Paper: Instructions for Implementing the New Relationship
March 12, 2009

In 2005, the provincial government and First Nations entered into a positive era of co-operation, called the New Relationship. At the core of this relationship was a commitment to recognize Aboriginal title and rights, to respect each other’s laws and responsibilities, and to reconcile both Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions.

Since the New Relationship began we have worked honourably, thoughtfully and collaboratively through many issues, mindful and hopeful that we would reach a moment where our rights would be recognized in law.

In the 2009 Speech from the Throne, read by Lieutenant Governor Steven L. Point (Xwě lī qwěl těl), the government promised to introduce recognition and reconciliation legislation that will “further the implementation of the New Relationship” and acknowledge that “Indigenous People have long lived throughout British Columbia and that this fact does not require proof.”

The moment is upon us. In the weeks ahead we expect the government will fulfill its commitment by introducing legislation that recognizes Aboriginal title within our traditional territories and affirms our right to share the benefits and revenues that the resources in these territories can provide.

This is an historic step forward for our people. It represents the culmination of generations of struggle since the day that James Douglas unilaterally declared, 150 years ago, that “all the lands in British Columbia, and all the Mines and Minerals therein, belong to the Crown in fee”.

By moving away from the systemic, institutionalized denial of Aboriginal rights to full recognition of those rights in law, our elders will not have to be dragged into courtrooms to prove our existence or strength of claim. By no longer questioning the strength of our claims, precious time and resources can now be dedicated to the real tasks at hand: creating true independence in our territories; investing in our youth, our communities, and in our future; developing true partnerships between First Nations communities and all British Columbians.
 
The legislation will also create a greater degree of certainty for business activity in the province. It will provide for more collaborative, structured and, better decision making with regard to planning, management and tenuring decisions over lands and resources. We are confident it will help create lasting, respectful, mutually beneficial relationships throughout our province.

Importantly, the legislation represents an achievement for all British Columbians. While First Nations peoples know that our rights, inherited from our ancestors, are indisputable, we also know that we are all here to stay. We have to create a new path to move forward together. We must act on the opportunities this legislation will provide. As one chapter closes another one opens, and it is up to all of us to make the future brighter than the past.

PDF Copy of Joint Statement available at:
http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/files/PDF/JointStatement_FNLeadership_120309.pdf

Discussion Paper: Instructions for Implementing the New Relationship available at:
http://www.ubcic.bc.ca/files/PDF/Discussion_ImplementingNR_190209.pdf  


Background Documents


On November 25-27, 2008, an All-Chiefs Assembly on Proposed Recognition Legislation was held at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre in North Vancouver, BC. The purpose of this Assembly was for First Nations leaders to review and provide direction on key elements of potential recognition legislation. A number of background documents were prepared to assist in the Assembly’s deliberations and are appended to this memorandum as follows:

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.