Gathering of government and Indigenous leaders in BC ends with agreement, and skepticism

Murray Oliver
APTN National News
VANCOUVER – The grand chief of the First Nations Summit said reconciliation talks with the B.C. government have been positive but it’s now time to dig down and do the actions.

His remarks come as the second annual meeting between the British Columbia government and B.C. indigenous leaders wrapped up Thursday in Vancouver.

The gathering managed to forge a general agreement about the need to deepen negotiations on contentious issues but seemed unable to dispel skepticism among many First Nation chiefs.

Hundreds of First Nations’ leaders approved a reconciliation document described as a guide for future economic, social and legal relations between Aboriginal people and the province.

Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit said he expects it will take about a year before the leaders know how successful the document has been in resolving historic land rights with the government.

Even as the meeting was taking place, a coalition of First Nations called The Interior Alliance put out a press release stating, “we have had enough,” and warned, “we are prepared to take direct action to protect our traditional lands from ongoing exploitation without our consent.”

The two days of talks come in the wake of the historic Supreme Court of Canada land rights decision in central B.C. that indigenous leaders believe gives their communities a stronger say and revenue sharing on proposed resource projects on land they consider their territory.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said her government is prepared to negotiate a wide-ranging reconciliation agreement with First Nations in the province.

Clark said her government has been working on a deal setting the groundwork for equal partnerships between First Nations and the province.

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–With files from The Canadian Press

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