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First Nations Leadership Council Information Bulletin - January 2009
VOLUME 3, ISSUE 9
JANUARY 2009

Recognition

In November 2008, the FNLC hosted an All-Chiefs Assembly on Recognition. At this Assembly, delegates reviewed outcomes of the Recognition Working Group, and developed a draft Action Plan for future progress. This Action Plan includes three key elements: Internal (Nation-building); Bilateral (including direct action); and Public (Campaigning, Communications, Public Awareness). Working groups were established for each of these areas, and work is underway to revise the Action Plan. A new version of the Action Plan will be presented to First Nations for review and discussion at upcoming All-Chiefs Assemblies, and meetings of the BCAFN, FNS and UBCIC.

The FNLC has been engaged with senior BC representatives in December to develop draft recognition legislation.

Federal Budget

The FNLC has been engaged with its partner organizations and Councils to prepare a comprehensive federal budget submission. Pasted below is the text of this letter:

January 13, 2009

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Dear Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

The BC First Nations Leadership Council hereby responds to your request for recommendations on the 2009 Budget and an Economic Stimulus package. As you prepare the 2009 Budget and Economic Stimulus package, we urge you to invest in First Nations capital and infrastructure projects that both stimulate the Canadian economy and promotes action to support your powerful words of regret expressed in the June 11th, 2008 Residential Schools apology. Federal investments into First Nations communities will stimulate economic activity benefitting Canadian small businesses, Aboriginal businesses, and provide much needed housing, infrastructure, health centres, and community facilities. These additional investments will also support and enhance your government’s investments in the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan.

Economists throughout the country have indicated an urgent need for a stimulus package that would include infrastructure, other investments, and long-term benefits to support Canada’s economy. For BC region, we have developed a First Nations-specific stimulus package, focused on capital infrastructure projects, to respond to the worldwide economic crisis and assist in closing the social and economic gaps between First Nations and other British Columbians. We urge you to consider this package in developing the federal budget, scheduled to be delivered on January 27, 2009.

BC has the second largest First Nations population in Canada, and this population is growing at a rate significantly faster than the general population. There continues to be a gap in quality of life between First Nations citizens and the public, including in the following areas:
• In BC, 30% of First Nations people on-reserve live in a home requiring major repairs;
• Aboriginal people are significantly overrepresented among BC’s homeless population;
• Each year, a large number of First Nations communities face emergencies related to flooding;
• New health centres and schools are required to service the First Nations population; and
• Broadband connectivity is still unavailable to many First Nations across the province, limiting their ability to take advantage of economic, educational, and health opportunities.

In British Columbia, First Nations have collaborated with Canada and the Province of BC to establish agreements and action plans in key areas, to reduce the disparity in social and economic outcomes. These include the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan and the First Nations Housing Memorandum of Understanding. Your recent budgets placed a priority on providing safe drinking water for our communities. Many of our communities lack water systems capable of supporting fire suppression. We need investments to provide for fire protection and suppression to prevent the loss of homes, property, and far the lives of our citizens.

In preparing this recommendation, we reviewed information provided by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Health Canada. To effectively implement these agreements, close social and economic gaps, and contribute to stimulating the national economy, we recommend that Canada allocate funds in the 2009 Federal Budget for BC First Nations Housing and Infrastructure projects totalling $1,680.1B over five years:
• Housing ($600M)
o 8,000 new housing units
• Water for new Housing Units ($105M)
• Wastewater for new Housing Units ($75M)
• Roads for new Housing Units($36M)
• Bridges for new Housing Subdivisions ($22.5M)
• Community Buildings ($20M)
• Schools ($250M)
• Connectivity ($165M)
o Connectivity construction projects - $150M over four years
o Training and Skill development - $15M over three years
• Flood Protection & Erosion projects for 147 First Nations in BC ($281.6M)
o 162 Erosion projects totaling $92.65M
o 237 Flood projects totaling $188.95M
• Health Centres and related infrastructure ($125M)
o Tripartite Health Plan commitments for Health Centres, Health Stations, Nursing Stations – 30 construction projects - $100M
o Infrastructure (water, sewer, site development, hydro) – 30 projects - $25M

Next month, the Leadership Council and the BC Region of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada will hold a policy and planning forum focused on housing. At this important forum, we will be looking for resolutions and resources to address and resolve the burden of Social Housing loan debt of approximately $500M, mould remediation, housing renovations, and the need for new housing units. We will also be looking to address issues of community safety – flood protection, fire protection, and safe drinking water. Through effective partnerships, and increased investment, we believe that we can make significant progress in closing the socio-economic gap and provide safe, affordable housing and facilities for our communities.

In closing, we urge you to make these investments in the 2009 Budget and Economic Stimulus package. Federal investment into First Nations communities will stimulate economic activity benefitting Canadian small businesses, Aboriginal businesses, and provide much needed housing, infrastructure, health centres, and community facilities. These additional investments will also support and enhance your government’s investments in the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Yours sincerely,
FIRST NATIONS LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

BC First Nations Fisheries Council

2009 Fisheries Assembly
Please mark your calendars, and plan to attend the 2009 First Nations Fisheries Council’s 2009 Fisheries Assembly happening in Nanaimo February 25 & 26. The meetings are taking place in coordination with the BCAFN’s Special Chief’s Assembly on the Environment and the Economy happening Feb 22 - 25, which will also host a fisheries-themed stream that will be hosted by the Fisheries Council. Both meetings are taking place at the new Vancouver Island Conference Centre. First Nations and Band Council offices should have received registration information via fax. If you need further information please contact us at info@FNFisheriesCouncil.ca. Building on community sessions which were held around B.C. last June, the theme of the session will be to look at progress on the B.C. First Nations Fisheries Action and the role of the Council in the future (structure, function, and mandate).

Visit to Ottawa
In December members of the First Nations Fisheries Council travelled to Ottawa for the National AFN Assembly and had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Associate Deputy, and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Fisheries Renewal. Meetings were positive and a number of key issues were raised on behalf of B.C. First Nations, including: government obligations to supply secure access to fish for food and economic purposes, the need to provide support for the economies of First Nations communities, concerns about Pacific Salmon Treaty Annex renewals and delays in appointing a new First Nations Commissioner, concerns about the need to engage First Nations bilaterally in the development of a new co-management framework, and issues relating to new marine safety regulations. The Council was also able to meet with the B.C. NDP Caucus and despite a snowstorm and bus strike was able to have a good discussion with the critics for First Nations issues and Pacific Fisheries. On January 16/09 the Fisheries Council has a meeting scheduled with the Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, in Vancouver.


Photo: Assistant Deputy Minister for Fisheries Renewal, David Balfour, Dr. Michelle Corfield and Grand Chief Doug Kelly of the First Nations Fisheries Council, Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Michelle D’Aurey, and Associate Deputy Minister Claire Dansereau, met recently in Ottawa.

Regional First Nations Fisheries Organizations
The Fisheries Council continues to host bi-weekly conference calls which allow First Nations technical staff engaged in fisheries work around B.C. to receive and provide updates on key B.C. issues. Contact the Executive Director of the Council, Brenda McCorquodale for more information at Brenda@FNFisheriesCouncil.ca. There is also a wealth of information available on the internal section of the Fisheries Council’s website at www.FNFisheriesCouncil.ca . In order to access secure information you must register with the Council for a login id., which is available through a link at the bottom of the website pages.

Human Resources
The Fisheries Council has recently hired two new staff. Myrah Baptiste has joined the Council as a Policy Analyst, and Aimee Arseneault is now working as a Communications Coordinator. A warm welcome is extended to these new employees, and thanks to all of those who applied for the positions.

Children & Families

In 2008, two Indigenous Child at the Centre Forums were held for First Nations leaders and key technical partners to embark on positive and solution-oriented dialogue concerning the health, safety and well-being of our children, youth, families and communities.

Outcomes of these Forums included:
• Two declarations affirming our commitment, our unity, and our moral, spiritual, traditional, and political accountability to work together in a Nation-to-Nation and community-driven process to secure the individual and collective survival, dignity and well-being of our children.
• A draft Child at the Centre Action Plan which has been revised to include all advice and feedback received through breakout groups, written submissions, and delegate workbooks. The revised Action Plan was provided in the fall of 2008 with a deadline for feedback of January 16, 2009. For a copy of the draft Action Plan, please visit the website www.informationbc.ca/child2 or contact the BCAFN, FNS, or UBCIC.
• The establishment of an Interim First Nations Child and Family Wellness Council (IFNCFWC) with representation from five regions of the province. To date, the members of the Interim Council are: Chief Betty Patrick, Bev Clifton-Percival, Sandra Jack, Chief Wayne Christian (spokesperson), Chief Robert Pasco, Chief Judy Wilson, Chief Leah George-Wilson, Kathy Bedard Sparrow, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Willie Charlie, Chief Bruce Underwood, Chief Bob Chamberlin (spokesperson), Chief Vern Jacks, Chief Wayne Morris, James Wilson, and Marion Wright.

The IFNCFWC has met monthly since October 2008 and is focusing on the following immediate priorities:
1. In light of the stunning number of First Nations Children in care, to stop the apprehension of First Nations children and to ensure the return of children to their Nations.
2. To address the federal directive 20-1, which clearly underfunds child intervention services.
3. To work with provincial and federal governments and with BC First Nations leaders to develop a child welfare system that is First Nations driven, that respects the diversity of cultures and languages, and that provides a comprehensive framework in which to move forward.
4. To solicit feedback regionally for the draft IFNCFWC Terms of Reference to be considered for resolution at upcoming BCAFN, FNS and UBCIC assemblies.
5. To amend the draft Action Plan to reflect further input and feedback from community, front line workers, and leadership.

The IFNCFWC will report to the assemblies of the BCAFN, FNS, and UBCIC, and will continue to update First Nations via regular communiqués. All relevant materials relating to the Forums and the IFNCWC have been posted to the following website: http://www.informationbc.ca/child2/  

Technology

The First Nations Technology Council, together with their Advisory Group (technicians representing 45 First Nations) have developed a Strategy and Action Plan for a First Nations Shared Cultural, Land and Marine Resource Information Service. Our goal is to collaborate on information management and information technology projects so that all BC communities get better access to information, tools and training, and can leverage investments in software applications that are already being developed by several groups. To read the report visit www.fntc.info . FNTC is in the process of securing funding for Phase II to begin to implement some of the Strategies.

Our annual conference – the ICT SUMMIT will be held in Vancouver February 19-22 (see www.fntc.info or www.ictsummit.ca for information and registration). Our keynote speakers – Grand Chief Ed John and John McKnight from Northwestern University - will discuss how technology can support building strong communities, and how learning to do community asset mapping can identify resources you never realized exist in communities. FNTC is looking for input to the $5m Capacity Plan that’s being developed – capacity is being defined as computer user skills, technician training and technical support. The program is in final development stage so watch the website for more information. Other sessions will feature music, film, records management, biodiversity and many other areas where technology can be used as a tool to achieve your community or personal goals.

Housing and Infrastructure

On May 21, 2008, the FNLC, Province of BC and the Government of Canada signed a Housing Memorandum of Understanding to improve coordination and collaboration, and commit the parties to develop complementary on- and off-reserve housing and infrastructure action plans.

The province hosted a series of regional engagement sessions on off-reserve Aboriginal housing across the province. Based on the findings of this engagement, the FNLC, other Aboriginal organizations, and the Province of BC are working to develop the off-reserve Aboriginal housing plan.

The off-reserve Aboriginal housing plan will be coordinated with an on-reserve housing and infrastructure action plan that will be collaboratively developed between First Nations and the federal government. A province-wide First Nations Housing Forum will be held in February 2009 to receive direction from First Nations on the content of an on-reserve housing and infrastructure action plan. Further details about this Forum will be provided in the coming weeks.

BC First Nations Energy Council

In 2007 First Nations gathered at the Chief Joe Mathias Hall to develop the First Nations Energy Action Plan. One of the action items in this plan was to appoint a team of First Nations leaders to engage with the Crown and industry. The following people were appointed:
• Arnie Bellis: Vice President, Council of the Haida Nation (appointed by the FNS)
• Chief Nelson Leon: Chief of Adams Lake (appointed by the UBCIC)
• Chief Roland Willson: Chief of West Moberly (appointed by the BCAFN)
• Dave Porter: Chief negotiator of Kaska Dene Council (appointed by the FNLC)

In November the Energy Chiefs asked Dave Porter to take the role as interim CEO until a formal entity is created and long-term resources are secured. Dave Porter accepted this role.

Over the last few months the First Nations Energy Council has focused on promoting an understanding of the importance of early engagement and partnerships with First Nations before projects are developed and securing long-term funding in order to implement the actions in the BC First Nations Energy Action Plan. Meetings were held with the following groups:
• BC Ministries of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources.
• BC Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
• BC Climate Action Secretariat
• Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
• Federal government: In December the Energy Council Chiefs and some representatives from the BC First Nations Leadership Council and the BC deputy minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation met in Ottawa with the deputy ministers of Natural Resources Canada and Indian Affairs. A 5-year proposal and budget was presented. The deputy ministers stated they would get back to us early in 2009.

In December a meeting was held with the newly formed Major Projects Management Office (managed by Natural Resources Canada) and concerns were raised about the lack of consultation with First Nations regarding the mandate and goals of this office. The First Nations Energy Council requested to learn more about this office to ensure that First Nations in BC have the resources to engage on any major project proposal.

On January 14th the FNLC and the FN Energy Council met with the new Natural Resources Canada Minister, Lisa Raitt, to further discuss the proposal for multi-year funding proposal, as well as resourcing First Nations communities to become engaged in economic opportunities in the energy sectors. Concerns were also raised regarding the unilateral announcement of the Federal Major Projects Management Office and the lack of government-to-government participation in the environmental review processes that occur with energy and mining proposals.

The BC First Nations Energy Council also attended energy and mining related meetings in China during the 30th anniversary of the Canada China Business Council. Five Premiers and a number of Provincial ministers and senior business leaders attended to promote stronger relationships with China and to build an understanding of how to do business in Canada and China.

The First Nations Energy Council will actively participate in the upcoming BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chiefs Special Assembly titled: Rebuilding our Economy and Repairing our Environment. Breakout sessions will occur with the goal of receiving feedback on the priorities that First Nations seek pertaining to economic development and environmental protection in the energy and mining sectors.

Over the coming months, a series of regional meetings are proposed that will involve the Interim Energy Council and senior representation from the BC government. Our goal is to receive feedback from the First Nations on the First Nations Energy Action Plan (2007) and provide information on energy related matters.

BC First Nations Mineral Exploration and Mining Action Plan

On October 7-9, 2008 The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Kaska Tribal Council, Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Tahltan Central Council and BC First Nations Leadership Council co-hosted a mining summit to create a BC First Nations Mineral Exploration and Mining Action Plan. The mining summit was a success with more than 400 delegates from First Nations, the provincial and federal governments, industry, academia, and non-government organizations attending. This plan has gone through many revisions since the mining summit further comments are welcomed until January 30, 2009. Thereafter, the Action Plan will undergo any final revisions before being presented at upcoming BCAFN, FNS and UBCIC assemblies for approval.

The First Nations Leadership Council

The FNLC is a political working relationship between the political executives of the BCAFN, FNS and UBCIC:
• BCAFN Regional Chief A-in-chut, Shawn Atleo;
• FNS Task Group Grand Chief Edward John, Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Dan Smith
• UBCIC President Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Vice-President Chief Robert Shintah, Chief Lynda Price

The FNLC, through the Leadership Accord, works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in BC and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.

New Relationship

In the New Relationship, commitments were made to a new government-to-government relationship based on respect, recognition and accommodation of aboriginal title and rights and to reconciliation of Aboriginal and Crown titles and jurisdictions. The New Relationship acknowledges that aboriginal title includes the inherent right for the community to make decisions as to the use of the land.

On September 20, 2007 the FNLC and the Province of BC issued a Joint Statement on the New Relationship highlighting that the Province and FNLC are undertaking work to develop frameworks and tools to assist the Province and BC First Nations to implement the New Relationship. The FNLC and Province respect First Nations autonomy and recognize that First Nations are the holders of Aboriginal Title and Rights. The purpose of the New Relationship is to bring about policy changes and set a course forward that will be of benefit to all First Nations.

The New Relationship must not be used as an excuse not to engage with First Nations directly and the policy level discussions are not intended to impede upon or displace First Nations negotiations with the Crown. In fact, these community-level government-to-government negotiations provide valuable insights and guidance to broader discussions.

Each First Nation has the right to a government-to-government relationship with the Crown, and the authority to enter into negotiations and agreements to suit the unique circumstances of the community.


Calendar of Events

• February 23-25: BCAFN Leadership Assembly – Rebuilding Our Economies & Repairing Our Environment (Nanaimo)
• March 2-3: UBCIC Chiefs’ Council (Vancouver)
• March 4-6: FNS Meeting (Victoria)

UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

 

 

 

 

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