Eyford’s Report a Bust: Endorses Failing Status Quo

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver – April 2nd, 2015) – Special Ministerial Representative Douglas Eyford released his report on renewing Canada’s Comprehensive Land Claims Policy today in the shadow of the BC Government’s recent abandonment of the impending appointment of George Abbott as Chief Commissioner to the BC Treaty Commission.  The report provides a comprehensive analysis of Canada’s position with respect to treaty making in Canada.  It provides a thorough historical perspective of the treaty arrangements in Canada as well as providing 43 recommendations with respect implementing a “new direction” or a “new reconciliation framework” with First Nations.

“This is a status quo report and only serves to entrench the failing the treaty process. It is clear Eyford did not hear nor understand the positions, presentations and recommendations provided by First Nations. The report reflects the Harper government’s legal positions and perspectives; it does not take into account that Indigenous Peoples have existing Title, Rights, laws and legal orders,” stated UBCIC Vice-President Chief Bob Chamberlin. “Canada's rigid approach to negotiations with extremely narrow mandates is fundamental to failures in providing reconciliation and progress. Continuing to disregard Supreme Court of Canada rulings will be instrumental in a perpetuation of a relationship with First Nations falling far short of any meaningful reconciliation and the reconciling of presumed Crown Sovereignty with the reality of Aboriginal Title"

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated “The report is part of an old paradigm; it has not taken into account the shift that has occurred with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and court cases such as Delgamuukw, Haida and Tsilhqot’in. A new direction would call for the mutual recognition of Crown and Indigenous Titles and legal orders. A true reconciliation framework would be worked through the development of processes for shared decision making, revenue and benefit sharing and innovative dispute resolution mechanisms based upon the principle of reconciliation. The Eyford report does not provide for this.”

UBCIC Secretary-Treasurer Chief Judy Wilson added “This report reads as an ‘if only’ document. If only the challenges at the negotiating tables where fixed. If only governments came to the table with real purpose and mandates. Most of Eyford’s recommendations rely heavily on tweaking the political framework and reinvesting in the BC Treaty Process. How can we fix a fundamentally flawed process? The process requires more than band-aid solutions and it is unfortunate that Eyford simply reiterated the long standing challenges and issues with the BC Treaty process and did not provide any substantive or innovative solutions.”

“It is a mediocre and desperate attempt to ‘troubleshoot’ a process that is simply not working. Furthermore with the recent policy statements coming from the Province that indicate a need to move away from the status quo and to make tough decisions as to whether the BC Treaty process should continue or not, again the Eyford report falls far too short with respect to true reconciliation in the Province of BC. Now is the time to step back, review and reflect on where we have been, where we are going and move together on a path towards true reconciliation,” concluded Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (604) 684-0231
Chief Bob Chamberlin (604) 684-0231
Chief Judy Wilson (604) 684-0231