Latest Columbia River Treaty talks held in ?aq’am
For the eighth round of discussions about the future of the Columbia River Treaty, Canadian and U.S. negotiators recently returned to the B.C., meeting for two days in ?aq’am, near Cranbrook.
During this round of negotiations, representatives of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx/Okanagan Nations were again present as official observers. This session’s U.S. delegation also included expert advisers from the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the commissioner of the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission, who is also vice-chair of the board of trustees of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
“As treaty negotiations continue, the approach being taken by negotiators shows just how far we have come since the treaty was drafted half a century ago,” stated Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty in a Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources news release. “The presence and involvement of Indigenous Nations and the U.S. Tribes means voices and perspectives that were shut out 50 years ago are now being heard and helping to shape the treaty’s future.”
The Canadian and U.S. delegations discussed issues related to ecosystem co-operation, flood-risk management and hydro power.
On behalf of the Canadian delegation, the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx/Okanagan Nations made a presentation to U.S. negotiators, drawn from their ongoing study of ecosystems in the Canadian Columbia Basin. They also made a presentation on the collaboration between Indigenous, provincial and federal governments to explore options for the reintroduction of salmon to the Upper Columbia. The presentation also highlighted the importance of building flexibility into the treaty to achieve Indigenous, ecosystem and social objectives.
Tribal advisors from the U.S. Tribes provided expertise regarding the extensive ecosystem work that the United States has undertaken in the basin, including transboundary efforts.
“The Ktunaxa Nation Council was very pleased to host the Canadian and U.S. Columbia River Treaty teams to ?aq’am and our St. Eugene Mission (pictured above),” said Kathryn Teneese, Chair, Ktunaxa Nation Council. “I have been encouraged to learn that the Indigenous-led discussions on ecosystem function and salmon restoration were positive and productive.”
The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Nov. 19 and 20, 2019, in the United States.
While negotiations are underway, the Province of B.C. continues to engage with Columbia Basin communities about the treaty. Building on a series of sessions last year, B.C. will host another 12 community meetings in the basin during October and November 2019, with details to be announced soon.