B.C. and UBCM renew commitment to engage on First Nations matters
This year's Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention sees the signing of a renewed agreement between B.C. and UBCM, as well as praise for a new tool being developed, aimed at strengthening relationships among the provincial government, local governments and First Nations.
British Columbia and UBCM have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that recommits the parties to work together on matters related to First Nations. It replaces two previously signed MOUs.
The MOU commits B.C. and UBCM to continue a process established in 1993 for local government participation in the negotiation and implementation of treaties, and to consult on matters of mutual interests, including those that will have a significant impact on local governments.
As well, B.C. agrees to share information with UBCM on the provincial government's approach to initiatives outside the treaty process. The MOU enters a review period every three years.
To be successful, treaty settlements need to be accepted at the community level. The MOU reflects the evolution of the treaty process, which has enhanced the relationships between First Nations and local governments by jointly examining the economic and social interests of their communities at the negotiations table.
For example, in April, one year after the Maa-nulth treaty came into effect, two First Nations of the Maa-nulth treaty, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Yuulu?Il?at? Government, joined the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.
One outcome of that process is a new tool being designed for First Nations and local governments entitled:
A Path Forward - A Regional Planning Toolkit. A resource to support treaty First Nations, regional districts and local governments, the toolkit is intended to help support local elected officials, First Nations and others in moving toward greater regional co-operation. The full resource will be available in the near future. Part of that toolkit is a publication entitled T'asii, which is already available online.
Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong -
"Respectful relationships between local governments and First Nations are vital in order to effectively plan and work together on matters of mutual interest. The B.C. government is committed to ongoing communication with local governments and recognizes local governments as valued advisers of provincial treaty negotiations teams."
Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett -
"As First Nations in British Columbia move to increase their participation in our economy and look increasingly to encourage development on-reserve as a way to improve their economic opportunities, it is even more important that we help forge respectful working relationships between communities. The new MOU is part of that work."
President of the Union of BC Municipalities Heath Slee -
"Reaffirming our current understanding with regard to the negotiation and implementation of treaties is good for all parties involved. I am also glad to see a new guide to encourage the good work that is happening in so many communities as First Nations and local governments tap the potential of co-operative planning and servicing initiatives."
* The revised document replaces the MOU signed in 2008 and two previous protocol agreements that dealt with local government participation in treaty negotiations. The original MOU was signed in 1993.
* Since the last MOU was signed in 2008, the first treaties negotiated under the BCTC process have come into effect with six First Nations: Tsawwassen and the five Maa-nulth First Nations.
* Also since that time, three First Nations have begun to sit as members of their local government: Tsawwassen, Huu-ay-aht and Yuulu?Il?at? (formerly Ucluelet) First Nations.
* To find out more about treaty and non-treaty agreements in B.C. and to read the MOU, go to: http://www.gov.bc.ca/arr/treaty/key/default.html
* To see a copy of T'asii, go to: http://www.treaties.gov.bc.ca/treaties_maa-nulth.html
* To learn more about UBCM and to read the MOU, go to http://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/resolutions/policy-areas/first-nations-relations.html