Squiala Chief David Jimmie envisions monumental changes coming with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights Indigenous Peoples now adopted by B.C. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Progress file)

Squiala Chief David Jimmie envisions monumental changes coming with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights Indigenous Peoples now adopted by B.C. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Progress file)

Local Indigenous leaders say sweeping change expected with rights legislation

Getting a seat at the table for First Nations will constitute biggest change under UNDRIP

Some Indigenous leaders are expecting sweeping change with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in British Columbia.

For Squiala Chief Dave Jimmie, president of the Sto:lo Nation Chiefs’ Council, the forthcoming changes will be “monumental” in scope.

B.C. became the first jurisdiction in North America to adopt the rights-based declaration on Oct. 24, 2019.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s finally becoming part of the decision-making process, as opposed to being dictated to,” Chief Jimmie said. “This is just the beginning. It’s a stepping stone.”

When the Indian Act was created, he noted, or the residential school system, Indigenous people were not consulted nor were they part of the decision-making process.

Some commenters have said the UNDRIP test of “prior, free and informed consent” when applied to land development for example is akin to a veto by First Nations for major projects, and that has been a source of fear in the debate. But it’s more generally about Indigenous reps “getting a seat at the table” whenever meaningful decisions are made, Jimmie said.

READ MORE: B.C. the first to endorse UNDRIP

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, chair of the First Nations Health Council, called the adoption of the UNDRIP legislation “huge” in terms of its implications.

“This is a call to action. It’s even bigger than the creation of the treaty process, because it is going to change the world we live in,” Kelly said. “What it will require however is for First Nations leaders and citizens to work together like never before, and it also requires the provincial government to change.”

Nonetheless there is “exciting” work ahead.

“I can see opportunities in what are sometimes referred to as ‘dirt’ ministries, like energy, mining and forests, with joint ventures and other economic development opportunities,” Kelly said.

Since his work of late is in the field of health and social services, Kelly said his analysis and focus is on Ministry for Children and Family Development and how the structure might change with UNDRIP.

“It’s the accountability that will shift,” Kelly said, predicting it will go from a provincial child welfare system with unilateral decision-making at the top, to one that’s more accountable to the Indigenous communities they serve. Sto:lo leaders have been doing the work to restore the role of “community matriarchs” and eventually they should become the delegated decision-makers in child welfare cases.

“I think that’s something that is both pragmatic and achievable,” Kelly said.

For Louis De Jaeger, president of the Chilliwack Métis Association, the provincial government decision to adopt UNDRIP is most welcome.

“The declaration is a mechanism for recognizing the right to self-determination of Indigenous peoples,” De Jaeger said. “It confirms our nation-to-nation relationship, recognition of our laws and legal traditions, and acknowledges the relationship that we have with our lands, waters and territories.”

B.C.’s UNDRIP framework bill received support from the NDP, as well as the B.C. Liberals and B.C. Greens, and doing so had been agreed to by the B.C. NDP and Green parties in their minority government support deal of 2017.

READ MORE: Rights overhaul will be tackled in 2020


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit Agassiz and beyond

The first in a three part series on dairy farming, palm oil and Canadian consumers

real estate sign
Chilliwack’s February real estate numbers show homes flying off the market

President of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board said he’s ‘never seen anything like it’

Almost 400 new child care spaces for the Fraser Valley. (Thinkstock Image)
Child-care spaces boosted by provincial fund across the Fraser Valley

400 licensed child-care spaces coming for Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and Maple Ridge families

David Leger (left) and Ben Nyland (right) at the 2016 Globe Conference. As Loop Energy grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise, Leger handed the CEO reins to Nyland, who continues to run the company. (Submitted photo)
Loop Energy: Believing in a dream pays off for Chilliwack investors

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on the rise of Loop Energy, now being traded publicly on the TSX

Emergency crews are on scene at Walnut Grove Secondary School for what Langley RCMP are calling a “serious incident” on March, 3, 2021. The school has been evacuated. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Langley high school evacuated after ‘a possible threat,’ district says

Police are asking the public to avoid 88th Avenue and Walnut Grove Drive

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

BC Human Rights Tribunal. (The Canadian Press)
Human rights tribunal rejects complaint against Surrey brewery

Tribunal dismisses former worker’s claim he was bullied because of his ethnicity

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

Most Read