Premier Christy Clark chats with Chief Roger William

Aboriginal artifacts project aims for reconciliation

Premier Christy Clark offers economic development, restores Bella Coola ferry service, some leaders not impressed

The B.C. government is providing $2 million to the Royal B.C. Museum to continue its aboriginal artifact recovery project, as part of its reconciliation efforts with more than 200 communities.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement at the B.C. cabinet’s third annual meeting with aboriginal leaders around the province, known as the “All Chiefs,” held this week in Vancouver.

Ceremonial objects have been returned to the Huu-ay-aht Nation near Bamfield, Heiltsuk Nation at Bella Bella and the Tla’amin Nation near Powell River.

An animal-shaped stone club and other objects were returned to Tla’amin from the museum last week, under the terms of the self-government treaty that took effect in April. Museum curator Jack Lohman is heading the project to locate and return objects and human remains from collections and museums around the world.

“We want to use every diplomatic effort that we can through my office,” Clark said. “We want to use Dr. Lohman’s incredible knowledge of international law and repatriation of objects to make sure that we do it right, and we do it quickly.”

The All Chiefs meeting was set up in 2014, in the wake of the Supreme Court of Canada decision to recognize aboriginal title of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to the Nemiah Valley. Clark delivered a formal apology in the legislature in October 2014 for the hanging of six Tsilhqot’in war chiefs in 1864, after 14 colonial roadbuilders were killed in what became known as the Chilcotin War or the Bute Inlet massacre.

Clark also announced the restoration of direct ferry service from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola, a $2.5 million contribution to the B.C. Assembly of First Nations for regional economic development plans and $250,000 to support the Moose Hide Campaign to protect aboriginal women and girls from violence.

Clark and Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad faced criticism. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs followed Rustad’s speech with his own, panning the Clark government’s efforts and saying aboriginal people were treated better by former premier Gordon Campbell.

The UBCIC was formed in 1969 to oppose assimilation of aboriginal communities in Canada, proposed by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau then-Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chrétien. As its leader, Phillip has become a constant critic of both the federal and provincial governments, leading protests against energy projects and the Site C dam.

Judith Sayers, a law professor at UBC and former chief of the Hupacasath First Nation at Port Alberni, posted a blog dismissing Clark’s announcements as “smokescreens” to obscure the acknowledgement of aboriginal title to the majority of B.C. where no treaties have been signed.

“The bigger issue of disturbing burial sites for development, either on Crown lands or private lands that still have aboriginal title on them, remains unresolved,” Sayers wrote.


Just Posted

Quesnel resident knows things must change

‘I realize change must happen is somebody’s back yard’

Quesnel head coach thinks his team will match up well

Team has mix of size and skills that will keep them in games – speed questionable

Rick and Nico present two shows in Quesnel

Infamous veteran folkie Rick Scott and keyboard ace Nico Rhodes join forces for outstanding concert

March is Epilepsy Awareness Month

A list of places selling various food and non-food items to support the campaign

All change at the Observer

New editor takes the helm; longstanding Lifestyles editor retires

VIDEO: Climber ‘catches the sunrise’ over city atop B.C. crane

Police warn ‘rooftopping’ poses risk to climber, public and first responders

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Most Read