Lhtako Dené Nation (Red Bluff) Chief Clifford Lebrun. Observer file photo

Cariboo First Nations alliance inks reconciliation agreement with Province

Chiefs, B.C. ministers work to build collaborative relationship for wildlife and forestry management

The provincial government and the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance signed a government-to-government agreement Friday (Aug. 3), which lays a foundation for building positive a relationship based on respect and recognition of rights.

The Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance represents Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation (Kluskus), Lhtako Dené Nation (Red Bluff), Nazko First Nation and Ulkatcho Nation (Anahim Lake), which are all based in the Cariboo.

The Foundation Framework Agreement, or Hubulhsooninats’Uhoot’alh – which is Dakelh for “together we will fix it” – commits the two governments to work collaboratively on decisions over land and resource management, increasing First Nations economic development and participation in the forest economy, improving consultation on resource development and developing cultures and wellness priorities.

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, says topics of mutual interest include wildfire prevention and response, timber supply review, and moose and caribou management.

The establishment of the new agreement comes after the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance signed a Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on July 22, 2018 in Williams Lake, which the Province says is a starting point for future discussions and negotiations.

The Foundation Framework Agreement was signed by Ministers Scott Fraser and Doug Donaldson, on behalf of the Province; Chief Liliane Squinas, Lhoosk’uz Dené Nation; Chief Clifford Lebrun, Lhtako Dené Nation; Chief Stuart Alec, Nazko First Nation; and Chief Betty Cahoose, Ulkatcho Nation.

“We know that the next step in this work will be harder than the work behind us, but we are responsible as leaders to bring about real change – we will not waver from this responsibility and will remain committed to ensuring that the good words from your government turn out to be more than just words,” comments Chief Clifford Lebrun of the Lhtako Dené Nation.

Friday’s news release says both the provincial and federal governments are working toward building strong relationships and advancing reconciliation with the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance.

“Our partnership with the Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance will promote trust-building and guide us in finding new ways of working, learning and collaborating together. British Columbia is committed to building an enduring partnership with the Southern Dakelh Nations, one that upholds their inherent rights and opens up new opportunities for their communities,” says Scott Fraser, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Ulkatcho Nation Chief Betty Cahoose says the agreement is just the beginning.

“Tomorrow, our work as partners begins to bring tangible benefits to our communities.”

Nazko First Nation Chief Alec agrees, saying the partnership can benefit First Nations youth and elders alike.

“We are all in one canoe – we can either paddle together or sink together. This agreement commits us to working together, deepening our partnership and relationship for the benefit of our youth, our elders and our communities.”

The Government of Canada says it is working with Indigenous communities at around 60 discussion tables across the country to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination. These discussions represent more than 320 Indigenous communities, with a total population of more than 700,000 people.

READ MORE: Cariboo First Nations group calls for moratorium on caribou hunt


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