Government of British Columbia

Government of British Columbia

June 19, 2009 12:21 ET

Government of British Columbia: Certainty and Opportunity Through Co-Operation

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - June 19, 2009) -

OPINION-EDITORIAL

NATIONAL ABORIGINAL DAY:

CERTAINTY AND OPPORTUNITY THROUGH CO-OPERATION

By Premier Gordon Campbell

June 19, 2009

(612 words)

National Aboriginal Day, June 21, is an important opportunity for all Canadians to take stock of not only how far we have come as a country, but also to think about how B.C.'s New Relationship with First Nations will be viewed by the rest of the world. In just 236 days, the eyes of almost every continent will turn to British Columbia and Canada for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. They will see our spectacular natural environment. They will see our diversified economy that crosses and complements urban and rural resources with human talent. They will see the ethnic diversity of our people. And they will no doubt see, and judge for themselves, our relationships with First Nations.

The Four Host First Nations, Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, have been a cornerstone of the Olympics since the beginning. In fact, without the support of the Four Host First Nations, there is a real possibility we wouldn't be hosting the Olympics. The leadership by each of their respective chiefs and peoples has been admirable. British Columbia's host First Nations have embraced the Olympics and have worked hard to project a modern and progressive relationship with all stakeholders. As a result, the international community will have the opportunity to see First Nations art, language, traditions, history and culture.

Certainly, First Nations have shown great leadership across our province and our country. We should all reflect on the extraordinary service of Phil Fontaine and the great leaders we have in B.C. Thanks to them, we have taken steps to close the gaps in health care, education, housing and economic opportunities. In B.C., we have signed modern-day treaties with six First Nations and signed Incremental Treaty Agreements to allow First Nations as well as the Province to share the benefits of treaties in advance of a Final Agreement.

This has only been possible because First Nations have sat down with governments, industry and community leaders and, with determination, looked for new and better ways to find common ground. In the last few years, we have learned to learn from each other. We have learned that there can be more than one path to reach the same objective. And we have learned there are still many things we can do better to improve life and create certainty not only for First Nations, but for all British Columbians.

We can all take pride as a province for the steps we have taken together to build a New Relationship and for how that relationship will be viewed by other nations. That is not to say we don't face a great deal of challenges. We still have much work to do to close the gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations. It is for that reason we must continue building the New Relationship and exploring different ways, through either legislation or agreement, to further that trust.

Historically, there have been many costly conflicts between governments and First Nations. We have just started finding better ways to find common ground. Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, we all share similar goals: to provide our children with an opportunity to work, prosper and lead a healthy, happy life. We have a lot of work to do to reach that goal. But I believe the New Relationship provides an important opportunity to set a framework that could benefit generations to come.

So as we celebrate National Aboriginal Day, and move towards Canada Day, we should recognize the tremendous contributions First Nations have made to our province and our country. And we should also recognize how significant those contributions will be when the world looks at our province with a magnified focus in 2010.

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province's news feeds using RSS, visit the Province's website at www.gov.bc.ca.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Premier
    Bridgitte Anderson
    Press Secretary
    604 307-7177