Feds announce Indigenous inclusion in Columbia River Treaty talks

Indigenous Nations had earlier protested their exclusion from negotiations last year

Three Indigenous Nations are now being included in Columbia River Treaty negotiations after talks initially started without their presence the bargaining table between the Canadian and American governments.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that the Ktunaxa Nation Council, Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Secwepemc Nation will participate as official observers.

Freeland met with leadership of the the three Indigenous Nations as well as with Katrine Conroy, the provincial minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, in Castlegar earlier this week.

“By working together, we will ensure that negotiations directly reflect the priorities of the Ktunaxa, Okanagan, and Secwepemc Nations – the people whose livelihoods depend on the Columbia River and who have resided on its banks for generations,” said Freeland, in a press release. “This is an historic day and demonstrates our government’s commitment to work in full partnership with Indigenous Nations.”

Last year, the three Indigenous Nations expressed disappointment at being excluded from the negotiations, blasting the federal government for the ‘massive’ impact the Columbia River Treaty has had on traditional territories.

READ: First Nations excluded from Columbia River Treaty talks

Kathryn Teneese, the chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, said the inclusion of Indigenous Nation as observers in the negotiations was ‘very significant’.

“We are taking small but meaningful steps together on the road to reconciliation,” said Teneese. “In addition to the partnership with Canada and BC, the partnership we are building between the Ktunaxa, Syilx and Secwepemc Nations, as the holders of aboriginal title to the entirety of the Columbia Basin, is deeply meaningful.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the chair of the Okanaga Nation Alliance, lamented Indigenous exclusion from the initial Columbia River Treaty signed in 1964, but welcomed participation in the renegotiations.

“Canada’s unprecedented decision to include us directly in the US -Canada CRT negotiations is courageous but overdue and necessary to overcome the decades of denial and disregard,” Phillips said. “We welcome the government’s bold decision here and look forward to helping to ensure any new Treaty addresses the mistakes of the past.”

Wayne Christian, Tribal Chief of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, said Indigenous participation is part of the path to reconciliation.

“As a representative of the Secwepemc Nation, I am pleased that the federal government has taken steps to recognize the rights of our people in the negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty through the inclusion of Indigenous Nations Observers within the negotiations,” he said.

The treaty, an agreement that went into effect in 1964, holds back 15.5 million acre-feet of water in Canada each year for flood control and power generation — an estimated dollar value of $3 billion USD.

READ: U.S. and Canada continue to talk Columbia River Treaty

Four hydroelectric dams were built under the agreement, which was signed between Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. The Duncan dam, the Mica dam and the Keenleyside dam are on the Canadian side, while the Libby Dam was built in the U.S.

Conroy lauded the federal government’s decision to include Indigenous participation in the treaty negotiations.

“Indigenous Nations have already been collaborating with the governments of B.C. and Canada on negotiation positions and strategies, and now the relationship has been strengthened,” Conroy said. “This is an important and unprecedented next step in demonstrating our commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to our journey towards reconciliation.”



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Kimberley Pipe Band hosting Ceilidh fundraiser ahead of trip to Netherlands

Enjoy live music, food, dancing, and more at The Road to 2020 concert.

It happened this week in 1912

Oct. 13-19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

COTR Avalanche volleyball teams in fine form heading into season opener

Men’s and women’s teams square up against the Douglas Royals on Friday, Saturday

Josh Dueck elected to Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame

Born and raised in Kimberley, he credits his supportive home town and family for making him who he is

Cranbrook Mountie gets peacekeeping award in Kelowna

On October 11, 2019, several awards were given out in Kelowna by… Continue reading

Spotlight on B.C.: Liberals need at least 10 B.C. ridings to take the election

Black Press Media presents a four-part series into how B.C. will affect the federal election outcome

While waiting for election results, let’s talk curling

Well, I was wrong last week and I happily eat my words.… Continue reading

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Two years later, City of Fernie remembers

Oct. 17, 2019 marks two years since the tragic ammonia leak at Fernie Memorial Arena

Most Read