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

MS Walk goes in Trail, Sunday

Registration opens at 9:30 a.m. at Gyro Park in East Trail

Trail memorial event honours victims and survivors of crime

Community invited to unveiling of memorial bench on Tuesday

Rainbow garden blooms in Trail

Trail volunteers have been working non-stop planting beautiful landscaping projects

Pit-stop brought radio newshound to Trail

In his new autobiography, Intrepid Reporter , Garrett summarizes his time in Trail …

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Most Read