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

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read