Grand Chief says B.C. declaration fund ‘special moment in history’ to build province

VICTORIA-Indigenous leaders in British Columbia say a $200-million provincial government fund will help First Nations participate fully in the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Several Indigenous leaders heaped praise on the new government fund at a news conference at the legislature, saying the Declaration Act Engagement Fund assists First Nations to offset costs associated with the negotiations connected to implement declaration agreements.

Green Party critic Adam Olsen previously said in the legislature that First Nations leaders expressed concerns they are at a disadvantage in talks with the province due to a lack of funds and resources.

Murray Rankin, Indigenous relations and reconciliation minister, said the flexible fund can support staffing, training, community-level meetings and other resources required in government-to-government work.

The B.C. government unanimously passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act into law in November 2019.

Cheryl Casimir, B.C. First Nations leadership council spokeswoman, said the fund is a step in the right direction and provides First Nations with the opportunity to begin work towards implementing the Declaration Act.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said the fund creates an unprecedented opportunity to work on the challenges of reconciliation in B.C.

“We owe it to our grandchildren to get it right this time,” he told the news conference. “This is a special moment in history. I’m very, very grateful to everybody here to witness this special moment in this time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2023.


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