Hundreds of First Nations leaders from across British Columbia are expected to meet with Premier Christy Clark and members of her cabinet for talks this week focusing on the historic Supreme Court of Canada aboriginal title ruling.
The high court decision that granted aboriginal title to lands in traditional Tsilhqot’in territory in B.C.’s central Interior permeates all government and First Nations relations, including potentially lucrative and environmentally-sensitive resource projects.
Clark says ignoring the Supreme Court decision puts B.C.’s future in peril and she wants to use the ruling to work together with aboriginals.
Roger William, Chief of the Xeni Gwetin, says he’s optimistic that this year’s meeting will be fruitful.
First Nations leaders left last year’s all-chiefs gathering disappointed, saying the province did not support a four-point communicate that established government support for aboriginal rights and title to lands, including revenue sharing.
But not all leaders are that optimistic.
A new alliance of northern BC aboriginal leaders says in an open letter to Premier Christy Clark that her government is ignoring recent court rulings and blocking their attempts to manage their own territories.
Union of BC Indian Chiefs vice-president Bob Chamberlin says the province has done little to implement their rights.
Chief Liz Logan of the Fort Nelson First Nation says the alliance is not against all development but is concerned about projects such as liquefied natural gas facilities and the Site C hydroelectric dam.