What are the next steps for reconciliation?

Feb 12, 2020 | 41-5, Blog, Governance, Question Period, Video | 12 comments

With the dramatic protests that unfolded around the legislative precinct on opening day of the Spring session there is much confusion about all aspects of Indigenous reconciliation going forward.

I have been clear that I am deeply frustrated with the B.C. NDP’s decision last Spring to deliver an taxpayer funded subsidy package to get a final investment decision from LNG Canada. My concerns were environmental as well as social and the looming challenges that existed for decades in Wet’suwet’en territory. Unfortunately, it appears that situation was left to resolve itself and it did not.

However, I also know that when we passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) that there was always going to be legacy issues that would haunt us. That is why the focus of my supplemental question to Minister Scott Fraser was about how his government is going to be leaning in and what are the immediate steps he is going to take to expedite the action plan for the DRIPA.



A. Olsen:

We, indeed, have seen escalating protests across the province and across the country. As people are rallying in response to the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have, as has been pointed out, opposed the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline.

At its core though, and what’s not being said in the previous questions, is that these protests represent the long-standing failure of Canadian governments to properly adhere to Supreme Court decisions that established the need to address and reconcile Aboriginal rights and title with the Crown sovereignty.

The issues that the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have raised are not new. Government has been well aware of the existing, long-standing and unresolved matters relating to rights and title in the area. Yet, in spite of this, the NDP prioritized the financial regime, putting in place to get LNG Canada knowing full well that there was work to be done in the Wet’suwet’en territory.

My question is to the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Why did the government proceed with approving a fiscal package for LNG Canada when they knew these outstanding matters — legacy issues over 30 years with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs — had not yet been resolved?

Hon. S. Fraser:

I want to thank the Leader of the Third Party for his question. This project represents a significant opportunity for all people in British Columbia. Three thousand people so far have been hired on the project. Local and Indigenous businesses are benefitting from this project. The project will generate its estimated $23 billion in revenue to the people of British Columbia for the services that we all use and care about.

B.C. did conduct extensive consultations with Indigenous nations and has signed agreements with the vast majority of nations along the pipeline route. Substantial efforts also have been made to consult and accommodate concerns that have been raised.

I should also note that we’ve been engaging in meaningful discussions —government-to-government, nation-to-nation discussions— reconciliation discussions with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. That is the Hereditary Chiefs.

Our discussions are proceeding in a respectful way with recognition that this work together is both complex and will take time. But this work is continuing. We will continue to work closely with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, the Hereditary Chiefs.

Mr. Speaker:

The Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental.


A. Olsen:

One of my proudest moments as an MLA was the passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, DRIPA, as its known. One of my hardest days was being escorted into this place by police to get past protesters screaming that reconciliation is dead.

I’ve worked with the minister for over two years to bring us to the introduction and the passage of DRIPA this past fall. When this House passed DRIPA unanimously, we all took responsibility for recognizing that Indigenous laws within the Canadian legal system, while also expressly recognizing that leadership other than established by the federal Indian Act exists.

I will never accept that reconciliation is dead. In fact, now is when we must lean in. However, it is more important than ever that this government, through their words and more importantly their actions, shows a pathway forward. My question again to the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: what are the immediate steps he is taking to initiate a more positive dialogue and set in motion the action plans required to truly engage in the work that this government committed to in advancing reconciliation?

Hon. S. Fraser:

Thanks to the member for the question. The Leader of the Third Party also, I want to thank him for his advice and his insight for the last two and a half years on the work we’ve been doing in the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation around a whole range of initiatives regarding reconciliation. I want to thank him for that.

While the events of the past week underscore, I think, the challenges that we all face in reconciliation, they in no way shake our resolve as government, or I would hope for all of us in this place, to advance reconciliation. B.C. is the leader in advancing reconciliation.

We made history by recognizing the human rights of Indigenous people in law in this place just a few months ago. The process of aligning B.C. laws to the UN declaration will take time, but that work is already underway.

The next step is developing an action plan in collaboration with Indigenous peoples which will set out the human rights of Indigenous people in law in this place just a few months ago. The process of aligning B.C. laws to the UN declaration will take time, but that work is already underway.

The next step is developing an action plan in collaboration with Indigenous peoples which will set out the priorities and the timeline and the accountabilities. We have begun discussions with Indigenous partners on how best to involve Indigenous peoples in the development of the action plan. In addition, all ministers are continuing their ongoing work to look at their legislation within their ministries to bring them into alignment with the UN declaration.

But there’s a lot more to do, and reconciliation is a top priority for this government, regardless of the events of this last week. I would just remind everyone in this House of the $50 million towards Indigenous language revitalization, the sharing of revenue, the largest revenue-sharing agreement in the history of this province — $3 billion over 25 years, long-term, stable funding that never existed before — for every First Nations community in the province. Delivering affordable housing on reserve — never done before. And of course, ensuring that children are cared for in Indigenous communities, where that care belongs.

All of that work forms the basis for us as a government, changing the Crown-Indigenous relationship in a way that will make it better for all people in British Columbia.

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  1. Dianne Varga

    Was it an accurate statement on the part of John Horgan when he said UNDRIP did not apply to the CGL pipeline? If you think it was, what makes you think so?

  2. Gayle

    Disappointed Adam. Somebody needs to step up and call this for what it is-it is NOT reconciliation in any shape or form-same old same old response from the BC government which you are a part of.

  3. Schubart Dan

    A bad enough situation,
    Is sure enough gettin’ worse.
    Everybody’s cryin’ justice
    Just as long as there’s business first.

    People running’ ’round in circles,
    Don’t know what they’re lookin’ for.
    Everybody’s crying’ Peace On Earth,
    Just as soon as we win the war.

    —Mose Allison Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy

  4. Carolyn Herbert

    While I appreciate, and absolutely do NOT discount the issues surrounding the relationships between governments and First Nations, I wish that the reason as I understand it for the Wet’suwet’en elders for wanting to stop the pipeline is to stop the damage to the environment which the pipelines represent. There are other ways to employ people, both FN and others, to bring health and prosperity to them. The fracking of methane poisons water. LNG when burned adds to the global pollution which is contributing to climate breakdown. The pipelines and the pathways they cut through forests and over salmon spawning streams threaten the wildlife sharing Nature with humans. I do not know the motivation of many protesters participating in current demonstrations and blockades. Certainly many years of injustice are being vented with this issue. But is it the correct focus? Surely protection of our shared environment from the fossil companies should take high priority?

  5. Farrell M Boyce

    What I am not hearing in all the noise around the proposed pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory is a credible indication of what the majority of people who live there think about this issue. The confusing set up with two conflicting councils claiming some kind of authority, a legacy of the Indian Act, it would seem, appears incapable of a clear answer reflecting the views of the residents.

  6. Douglas Gook

    Greetings Adam,

    I just listened to your F12 CBC Early Edition interview and I want to say it was one of your best ever. Well done!

    Thanks for asking these questions today Adam. Holding the NDP accountable for their ‘reconciliation out of the barrel of a gun’ strategy for driving their massively subsidized CGL LFrackedG pipeline through is absolutely critical. I’ve been involved in many of the in the street solidarity actions over the last week here in Vancouver. The mood in the Province right now for holding the NDP and Liberals accountable for their LFrackedG subsidies and Wets’uet’en fiasco by dealing with them in an election is gigantic. I’m amazed with the newest wave of historically core NDP supporters who have ended their support over this. The list of progressive unions and organizations that have broken ranks with the NDP on this is also spellbinding.


    Pulling support for this minority government based of a full listing of its considerable failures would be the kind of headlines that would bring many into the fold. A expedited ‘ready to govern’ dialogue with BCTF, the Wets’uet’en and the student climate strikers would show how ready GPBC is. The movement to an election, even at this stage of GPBC’s leadership race would actually emphasize how serious the GPBC is taking this time in BC history.

    Power To Us All

    • Carolyn Herbert

      Thanks for this information about Adam’s interview. I used to live in BC and part of my family are still there so I take keen interest in how my Beautiful BC is being destroyed in so many ways by policies being taken/permitted to proceed (logging Ancient forests, net pen salmon farms, Site C, fracking and LNG, to name some).

      I, also, want the Greens to withdraw support from the NDP but am not sure if that will trigger an election. Government under Christy Clark was so damaging, I fear a return of similar policies. Greens are caught between a rock and a hard place. Pray that those disaffected NDP folks would join the Greens.

  7. Jim Mason

    Maybe I have missed it, but I have not heard a strong statement from you regarding title and governance of Wet’suwet’en territory. Paul Manly made it very clear, title and governance lie with the hereditary chiefs. That was the decision of the supreme court and that is not ‘complicated.’ Will you take a strong public stand affirming the sovereignty of Wet’suwet’en under hereditary chief governance?

  8. JoAnne Jarvis

    I just watched a video of a militarized d sniper (RCMP) take aim at an unarmed Gidemt’en man and it looked like other unarmed people in their own homeland.
    RCMP have come in and it’s assault rifles against feathers.
    This should be shameful for this government.
    Ask him to stand down the RCMP

  9. Gayle

    I so agree with you JoAnne.

  10. Peter

    Are the hereditary chiefs equal to royalty? If not, what’s the difference?

    • Adam Olsen

      Definitely not either/or. There is a lot of diversity and many systems that have existed here for generations.
      We should embrace the diversity and work to build real relationships.


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