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Posted: September 24, 2017

In support of the BC Treaty Commission’s annual report

Letter to the Editor

I thank the BC Treaty Commission and Chief Commissioner Celeste Haldane for their insightful and comprehensive annual report, and continuing commitment to advance modern treaty making in B.C.

Modern treaties are a vital path to comprehensive reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Treaty First Nations have increased opportunities for participating in the economy, law-making authority and clear jurisdiction over lands, resources and the health and social well-being of their citizens.

As explored in the commission’s report, treaties provide significant economic benefits for both First Nations and surrounding communities – when a First Nations community prospers, its entire region prospers.

That is why we need to do more to transform treaty negotiations. First Nations need clearer paths to treaty, which don’t leave them burdened with debt, and acknowledge the continuation of Aboriginal rights and title. How treaties are negotiated, as well as government’s internal processes and mandates, must evolve to better reflect case law and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

B.C. and its treaty partners, the First Nations Summit and Canada, as well as the BC Treaty Commission, have made considerable progress in identifying and addressing the systemic barriers to negotiating and concluding treaties. Together, we are continuing work on a range of options for developing treaties and ways to reduce or eliminate debt incurred by First Nations.

We have the opportunity now, in partnership with our treaty partners and First Nations, to expand and accelerate reforms underway, so we can advance long-term reconciliation and improve opportunities and outcomes for Indigenous peoples throughout B.C.

Scott Fraser,

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

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