Historic action plan guides UNDRIP implementation in B.C.

March 30, 2022 at 12:49 pm  BC, News, Politics

Lissa Dawn Smith, president, Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) –

“Providing culturally relevant, Métis-led childcare that considers the operational realities of Métis child care operators and the unique needs of our Métis children, families and communities is a critical goal of MNBC. We appreciate the Province’s dedication to building a universal child care system that takes a distinctions-based approach and allows MNBC to have jurisdiction over child care for our children. We value this approach that respects Métis self-determination and the commitment of the Province’s child care division to work in collaboration and partnership with MNBC.”

Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee –

“For many years, the First Nations Education Steering Committee has advocated for systemic changes in support of First Nations students and to advance First Nations control of First Nations education in B.C. The action plan represents a significant commitment from the Province to transform the education system, in partnership with First Nations, so that it meets the needs of First Nations learners.”

Brenda Gunn, academic and research director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation –

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission referred to the UN Declaration as the framework for reconciliation. At its heart, the UN Declaration is about shifting the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the government from a colonial one to a relationship based on upholding Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination through mutual respect and partnership. The work to implement the UN Declaration through this action plan is a critical step toward reconciliation.”

Kasari Govender, B.C.’s human rights commissioner –

“Today’s introduction of the action plan is a key step in realizing the promise of the Declaration Act. The plan’s commitments to addressing racism in our education system are critical for the well-being of future generations and transformative change across our society. Further, the investments in B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal and Indigenous models of complaint resolution are heartening. For too long, Indigenous Peoples have felt excluded from the human rights system here in B.C., and we know that human rights laws are meaningless without real access to justice. Culturally appropriate remedies are a key element of the Declaration, and these investments are vital for bringing that idea to life. The action plan is an important start, but the Declaration Act requires more: it requires broad, tangible and transparent implementation across all of government, including through further investments and actions aimed at addressing the ongoing economic disadvantages created by colonization. In my role as B.C.’s human rights commissioner, I will continue to stand with Indigenous communities in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Declaration Act – both as contained in this plan and beyond.”

Colleen Erickson, board chair, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) –

“Working alongside our federal and provincial partners, there have been important changes implemented for COVID-19 and the toxic drug supply states of emergency that has had a positive impact on Indigenous Peoples. This action plan is a continuation of this work. The FNHA, as a strong active partner, looks forward to supporting our First Nation communities in the implementation of this plan.”

Richard Jock, CEO, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) –

“FNHA looks forward to continuing to work with federal and provincial partners to address the health and wellness issues, which are front of mind for First Nations communities. These are unprecedented times with COVID-19, residential school discoveries, climate change, toxic drug crisis and addressing racism. We look forward to full involvement in the process going forward in the spirit of UNDRIP focused on mental health and addictions and are ready for the challenges and the emerging opportunities over the coming months.”

Ry Moran, associate university librarian (reconciliation), University of Victoria –

“As outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation across all sectors and levels of society. Affirmation, protection and implementation of the inherent and inalienable human rights enshrined within UNDRIP is vital. This plan moves British Columbia forward.”

Rosalie Yazzie, vice-chair, BC First Nations Justice Council –

“Today’s action plan represents an important advancement toward reconciliation between B.C. First Nations and the Government of British Columbia. The action plan clearly articulates the Province’s commitment to prioritize the implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy as one of its key priorities. For far too long, First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples have been over-represented in the criminal justice system and now is the time to work toward greater self-determination in all matters, including justice. The action plan has been crafted to not only outline the Province’s commitments, but it also calls for annual reporting to the Legislature. We look forward to receiving the Province’s first progress report with respect to implementation of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.”

Chief Lee Spahan, Coldwater Indian Band –

“Our people have always been a part of the burning of the land, it is of our responsibility as stewards. We will continue to do it and pass the teachings on to our children for generations to come. We have just started to recover from last year’s wildfires and are hard at work preparing for the next one. The Province’s commitment to partnering with First Nations in emergency management is very important to us. We look forward to holding the Province accountable to what it has promised in this action plan.”

Kilsaay Kaaji Sding/Miles Richardson, OC, director, National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development –

“B.C. showed leadership in adopting the Declaration Act as its framework for reconciliation, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This action plan is for implementing the Declaration Act and UN Declaration in B.C. This action plan is necessary for making the Declaration Act meaningful and ensuring our future together in this place proceeds on a nation-to-nation basis that respects the nationhood and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and enables us together, as Indigenous Peoples and British Columbians, to build societies and economies that work in balance with this wonderful place we call home and that provides abundance and well-being for all of us. Action #4.42, under which metrics will be co-developed to evaluate progress on reconciliation, is particularly important. The National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development, a joint initiative of the Gustavson School of Business and faculty of law at the University of Victoria, looks forward to providing support on this initiative fundamental to the success of the action plan and B.C.’s Declaration Act. The implementation of this action plan will test the commitment of all in building a new relationship going forward.”

Chief Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band and chair, Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food –

“Currently, many aspects of our Indigenous food systems are not within the mandate of British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food that may require a broader whole-of-government approach. Our food security and food sovereignty are deeply entwined with the ecological health of our Indigenous territories, which are increasingly impacted by the effects of climate change and associated threats. Our worldviews, knowledge systems, relationships with our lands and territories, and inherent rights to self-determination, including to maintain, control, protect and develop our social, economic, cultural and heritage, which supports our local economies, guide the Indigenous Advisory Council on Agriculture and Food’s objectives and work. The council is working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to strengthen Indigenous food systems, increase Indigenous participation in the agriculture and food sector, and to ensure recognition of Indigenous food systems in their foundational and interconnected role in providing for cultural, social, environmental, and economic well-being.”

Jordan Point, executive director, First Nations Fisheries Council of British Columbia (FNFC) –

“The action plan marks a promising shift from commitments to on-the-ground implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. The First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. is happy to see that the action plan incorporates information distilled from a robust FNFC-led First Nations engagement process. The feedback from First Nations participants clearly identified the need to break down silos and create a stronger structured and ongoing relationship with the provincial government regarding fish, fisheries and aquatic habitat. The action plan shows the path to working more collaboratively with First Nations and the need to invest in their capacity early and often. There is no quick fix, but we are hopeful that the action plan can drive a new era of capacity building and recognition of Aboriginal title and rights.”

Neil Belanger, chief executive officer, Indigenous Disability Canada/British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society –

“Recognizing and incorporating the voices, knowledge and directions of Indigenous Peoples living with disabilities is a vital component in ensuring the validity and responsiveness of the Declaration Act Action Plan. We look forward to working with our communities and their membership, Indigenous organizations and the Government of British Columbia to ensure that through the Declaration Act and future initiatives, Indigenous Peoples, including those living with disabilities, are the catalyst for change, and in being so, the creators of the foundation necessary for a barrier-free and inclusive province based on respect and self-determination, where all Indigenous Peoples have the ability to thrive.”

Barb Ward-Burkitt, executive director, Prince George Native Friendship Centre –

“Taking a serious look at ways to ensure Indigenous workers and employers are full partners in our economy is an important step as government works toward authentic and respectful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in B.C. We look forward to working together with government and Indigenous Peoples to make meaningful change a reality now and for future generations.”

Brenda Baptiste, chair, Indigenous Tourism BC –

“The launch of the action plan will provide a strong foundation to achieve the objectives of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and is a path to move forward with intention. We have important work to do as we navigate this shift of equality and alignment with First Nations and Indigenous Peoples.”

Matthew Norris, president, Urban Native Youth Association –

“This is a promising first step that has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of Indigenous youth and future generations. A central principal of the Declaration Act is the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination, to self-government and to free, prior and informed consent and it is important that these principles are reflected within the action plan. I further welcome the Province’s distinctions-based approach and the inclusion of the urban Indigenous community within this action plan. Given ample resourcing and a willingness to create the time and space for Indigenous Peoples to engage in nation-building and address the complex and interwoven legacies of colonialism, this action plan holds real promise and will result in a better province for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples alike.”

John Borrows, Canada research chair in Indigenous law, University of Victoria Law School –

“I am encouraged by the Declaration Act Action Plan. It will empower Indigenous Peoples in the province and create key pathways for deeper engagement designed to benefit all British Columbians.”

Ki’ilaga’a/Jenna Forbes, executive director, Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society –

“So often, policy is created without a commitment to moving the policy forward and transparently letting the community know how the policy will the benefit constituents/stakeholders, which can lead the community further into disconnect. I am so pleased to learn of the Declaration Act Action Plan and am eager to hear how the B.C. government will lead a justice strategy that will encompass the diversity of Indigenous Peoples residing in this beautiful province and look forward to more conversations about our urban Indigenous needs.”

James Delorme, president, Indigeknow –

“As Indigenous Peoples, we have always embraced technology. We now witness a sector that is growing exponentially, and we see clearly Indigenous participation within technology-based opportunities is growing at the same rate. The B.C. government’s pledge to prioritize and increase the number of technology-sector training opportunities for Indigenous Peoples is a ground swell of inspiration. I am overjoyed at the opportunities for citizens, communities and organizations to aspire to generational transformation to further our participation.”

Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia –

“The Business Council of British Columbia strongly supports British Columbia’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and the direction of the 2022-2027 Action Plan. Accessing capital and generating own-source income is key to enabling self-determination for Indigenous communities, and for making progress on social, health, educational and economic outcomes for Indigenous Peoples across the province. We applaud the Province for its pledge to accelerate collaborative problem solving among industry, government and Indigenous people, and look forward to continuing our shared efforts to advance meaningful reconciliation.”

Kendra Johnston, CEO, Association of Mineral Exploration (AME) –

“AME supports the B.C. government’s Declaration Act Action Plan and is committed to actively working with the Province to help advance its commitment to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act in consultation and collaboration with First Nations and First Nations organizations. We have a multi-generational opportunity to modernize the Mineral Tenure Act, while also maintaining business continuity and enhancing the global competitiveness of the mineral exploration industry. By working together on this action, we are confident a more inclusive process can be established, one that respects the principles of the UN Declaration, advances reconciliation and helps support robust regional economies across the province. As mineral explorers, we know we must plan to engage, explore and mine in a way that is realistic to our future.”

Laird Cronk, president, and Sussanne Skidmore, secretary-treasurer, BC Federation of Labour –

“This action plan is a crucial step in making the aspirations and promise of the Declaration Act a reality. It’s part of our ongoing journey of righting the historic wrongs and enduring legacy of colonialism, and ensuring the full inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in participating in and shaping the economic life of the province. We look forward to the certainty and clarity that mean more opportunities and a stronger, more prosperous future for communities and working families – Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”

Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) –

“The action plan announced today is another positive step forward on the path toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in B.C., and COFI and our members look forward to supporting the plan’s goals and implementation in the months and years ahead. As government-to-government discussions continue to advance, we remain committed to doing our part to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights, connections to the land and diverse cultures. We will also continue to work to advocate for meaningful revenue sharing and to encourage increased Indigenous participation in the forest industry as owners, business and stewardship partners.”

Chris Pieper, board chair, Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC)

“We look forward to working on this action item with the Province and our Indigenous partners based in the ETSI-BC service area to create a mechanism that ensures ongoing First Nations representation in our governance structure and their inclusion in our regional advisory committee activities to help ensure everyone is part of growing the local economy.”

Line Robert, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) –

“The inclusion of First Nations leadership and communities in trust governance and decision-making will be a game changer for our region. The greatest value of the trust model is the grassroots decision-making process, which values and optimizes local knowledge. The formal inclusion and integration of First Nations knowledge, points of view and ideas will enable ICET to evolve into a truly regional vehicle for the action-focused economic reconciliation, collaboration and decision-making required to address our collective challenges and opportunities.”

Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust –

“The specific goals and actions in this plan demonstrate this government is taking true, meaningful steps toward reconciliation in British Columbia. For a decade, Northern Development has advocated to include Indigenous leadership in our governance structure – this plan shows that it is now, finally, a priority. I want to thank the Province for its leadership. We look forward to working with this government and Indigenous leaders across northern B.C. to find a way to ensure they can meaningfully participate in our shared goal to build a stronger North.”

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