Terry Teegee, B.C. regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. to share gambling revenue with Indigenous communities

Premier John Horgan says legislation coming to enact UNDRIP

B.C. will share gambling revenues with Indigenous communities starting next year, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan opened the fifth annual meeting with provincial and Indigenous leaders in Vancouver Thursday by announcing an agreement on gambling revenues, receiving praise from representatives of provincial and national aboriginal organizations. Details of the revenue sharing are to be released in Finance Minister Carole James’ next budget in February.

“This is a promise that was made over 20 years ago that has not yet been fulfilled until now,” Horgan said. “Provinces across the country, most of them, share gaming revenues with Indigenous communities.”

READ MORE: B.C. invests in 1,100 new homes for Indigenous residents

Horgan also announced that the B.C. government will present legislation in the new year to enact the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a promise the NDP made in the 2017 election campaign.

That declaration, which calls for “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous people for development in their territories, has been adopted by the Canadian government, and Horgan acknowledged “we have a little more work to do about delivery” before B.C. can proceed. Despite that, the announcement was greeted with congratulations.

“With the commitment to the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the commitment towards revenue sharing, we are living in unprecedented times in B.C.,” said Terry Teegee, B.C. regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

“For far too long, first nations in this province have been subjected to managing poverty,” added Cheryl Casimir, a member of B.C.’s First Nations Summit. “Due to the Crown practice of denial of our rights and title, the wealth of our lands and resources are being enjoyed by all British Columbians with the exception of us, the rightful title holders.”

Summit member Grand Chief Ed John recalled that it took 10 years to work out UNDRIP, with talks in Geneva and finally ratification at the UN General Assembly in New York.

“We’re now picking up our stakes, we’re picking up our teepee and we’re moving,” John said.


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