VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 27, 2012) - Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre today applauded the Senate Report which calls the BC treaty process 'a commitment worth preserving'.
The conclusion of treaties provides important benefits both within and outside First Nations, including a solid legal basis for future economic development, states the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. And while great costs are incurred by the parties to negotiations, the committee believes these may be justified on the basis of future benefits and opportunities.
"The Senate committee has listened," said Pierre. "Treaties are not only the right thing to do; they make economic sense for all British Columbians and Canadians."
The committee is urging the federal government to address barriers that stand in the way of treaties being achieved in BC, citing "bureaucratic decision-making structures and narrowly defined negotiation mandates" for causing unnecessary delays in the treaty process.
There is concern, too, that delays are imposing an additional financial burden on First Nations, much of it in the form of loans, to participate in the treaty process.
The committee calls for more flexible federal mandates, cooperation among the federal and provincial governments and First Nations Summit to resolve overlapping claims and more resources for the Treaty Commission to facilitate overlap discussions among First Nations.
The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister has been asked to keep the committee updated on the efforts of the federal government to renew its approach to treaty negotiations.
The report, A Commitment Worth Preserving: Reviving the British Columbia Treaty Process, is the result of three hearings the committee held to review and report on the status of the BC treaty process as the 20th anniversary approaches this September.
In its presentation to the committee in October 2011, the Treaty Commission stated, "Recommitment means replacing the lack of urgency among federal departments with a sense of purpose to complete treaties - to set targets for treaty completion."
About the BC Treaty Commission
The Treaty Commission is the independent body responsible for overseeing treaty negotiations among the governments of Canada, BC and First Nations in BC. It has three roles: facilitation, funding, and public information and education. Visit www.bctreaty.ca to learn more about the Treaty Commission.