Treaty commission calls for political will

The head of the B.C. Treaty Commission wants her mandate extended one more year to see if the federal-provincial effort to settle aboriginal land claims has a future after two decades.

Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre wants her mandate extended one year

The head of the B.C. Treaty Commission wants her mandate extended one more year to see if the federal-provincial effort to settle aboriginal land claims has a future after two decades.

Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre’s three-year appointment is set to end next March. The former chief and administrator of the Ktunaxa-Kinbasket Tribal Council in southeastern B.C. has tried to speed up progress since her appointment in 2009, a period that saw two treaties implemented and another signed.

As the commission tabled its 19th annual report Wednesday in Victoria, Pierre turned up the heat. She said treaty talks have become “just another program of government” where Ottawa in particular is holding up progress.

“We believe as a commission that with political will, with strong political direction, we could have seven treaties instead of two, right now, and we could have nine comprehensive agreements instead of the one that we have,” Pierre said.

After implementation of the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty in Metro Vancouver and the Maa-Nulth treaty on southwestern Vancouver Island, the Yale treaty in the Fraser Canyon was ratified as the federal government launched an inquiry into the state of Fraser River salmon stocks. That put fish negotiations on hold for all remaining treaties until the inquiry determines what fish there are to divide up.

Jerry Lampert, the federal appointee to the treaty commission, agreed with Pierre that federal negotiators have too narrow a mandate, and have to go back to Ottawa for approval of each area of agreement.

Pierre said Ottawa needs to turn its experienced negotiators loose to do their work, and take things off the table that are not going to be negotiated. If that doesn’t produce results, she said they should shut treaty negotiations down.

B.C. Aboriginal Relations Minister Mary Polak attended the treaty commission news conference, a first since it was established. She said the province remains committed to reaching treaties, despite the B.C. government’s recent emphasis on non-treaty resource agreements.

Premier Christy Clark’s recent jobs plan included a target of 10 new non-treaty agreements with aboriginal people by 2015.

Resource agreements for timber, and more recently mine revenue sharing, have helped to keep the momentum for broader treaties going, Polak said.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New video evidence in Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial shown in court

The defence closed its case following the playing of the video in court, marking the end of the evidentiary phase of the trial

IHIT investigating ‘suspicious’ death of Surrey man

Officers found a body in the 11300-block of Bridgeview Drive: Surrey RCMP

PHOTOS: White Rock Farmers’ Market ‘welcomes all vendors’

Relaxing pandemic restrictions mean full spectrum of vendors can return to uptown market: manager

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read