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.

Just Posted

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf ready for summer season

The plan is to have the Northern Sea Wolf assume the mid-coast service as of May 18

Historic building in Alexis Creek destroyed by fire overnight

“If it hadn’t been a heavy rain last night we could have lost many houses in the area”

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

OP-ED: Striking a balance with the oil tanker moratorium

Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut, on protecting Canada’s environment and economy with Bill C-48

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read