Cabinet ministers and First Nation leaders closed the fourth-annual B.C. Cabinet-First Nations Leaders‘ Gathering with high hopes.
During the summit, leaders from all governments talked openly about the wildfire, and what needs to be done next to help restore communities that have been affected.
When it comes to emergency management and response in communities, First Nation leaders would like to see something happen before the next emergency happens.
This means establishing clear lines of communications, recognizing the needs of First Nations. While looking in to prevention efforts and a better way for Indigenous communities to be reimbursed for costs.
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says that the provincial government recognizes these issues and will work harder in the future.
First Nations also touched on one of the most important topics of the day- how to move forward with reconciliation in this province.
Leadership from First Nations communities had a clear message for the federal and provincial government. A message that President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip articulated plainly and clearly as “this is a new ball game. Three strikes you’re out,” and ultimately “reconciliation is not for wimps”.
Fraser relished in the fact that he was the new minister in charge of relations and reconciliation. As former NDP critic for aboriginal issues, Fraser pushed the Liberal government for years to recognize Indigenous title and rights.
But Indigenous leaders know what needs to come next- full implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recognizing the 10 Principles of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples and understanding of Aboriginal Title, along with the more localized Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court ruling.
As Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit put it, “it’s time to get out of the Indian business”.
AFN representative and Chief of the Katzie First Nation says that the time is now. This is a different year with different opportunities and for First Nations people to get ahead, first we need to unravel the processes that keep them down.
Chief Robert Chamberlin, of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, closed the gathering with some wise words about what reconciliation means to him.
Chamberlin and his leadership counterparts agree that reconciliation represents a correction of path and the NDP government has made more steps towards that goal the the previous liberals, but they hope the NDPs don’t pull a ‘Justin Trudeau’