Reservoir behind Mica Dam, one of dams constructed under terms of the Columbia River Treaty. (Bonneville Power Ad)

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Three B.C. First Nations have marked what is being called a “historic moment” after joining international talks to modernize a treaty over a major river flowing between Canada and the United States.

READ MORE: U.S. payment to Canada a focus at Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated as observers when the most recent negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty were held in Washington, D.C., last week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in April that the three First Nations would join the seventh round of talks and Indigenous representatives are to return when discussions reconvene in Cranbrook, B.C., in September.

Canada and the United States are seeking to update the 1961 treaty that governs development and operation of dams in the Upper Columbia River basin and manages power and flood control for both countries.

First Nations representatives had already been working with the federal and provincial governments on treaty strategies, but their participation last week marked the first time they were present in the negotiating room.

The Columbia River — the fourth-largest by volume in North America — begins in the Rocky Mountains near Invermere, B.C., and runs through the province into Washington state before cutting west along the Oregon boundary to the Pacific Ocean.

A joint statement from Indigenous representatives says much work lies ahead to modernize the treaty, but they are pleased with what they observed.

“This precedent-setting role as observers builds on and enhances our important work with Canada and B.C. over the last two years,” says the statement from the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations.

“We are confident that we can continue to contribute positively to these negotiations and help realize the First Nations’ goals for meaningful outcomes … that are of critical importance to our nations and homelands.”

Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, called the round of talks a “historic moment” and a “significant step forward.”

She says inclusion supports the B.C. government’s commitment to reconciliation, and the recent talks took stock of progress made since discussions on the treaty’s modernization began in May 2018.

“The latest discussions focused on flood-risk management, power and adaptive management,” Conroy says in a release.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

COVID-19 tests come back negative in remote First Nation community

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Wildway Farms open for business in Hagensborg

Local entrepreneurs Gwyneth Anderson and Joseph Battensby are hard at work at their new business

Young boy finds mask stolen during recent break-in

Gage Pootlass immediately took the mouse mask back to its rightful owner, Kathleen Booth

Bear gets into garbage at Thorsen Creek Landfill after waste disposed into wrong bin

A grizzly bear accessed garbage that was put in the wrong bin and ended up outside the electric fence

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Remembering Brent Carver: A legend of Broadway who kept his B.C. roots strong

Over the years, the Cranbrook thespian earned his place as one of Canada’s greatest actors

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Most Read