First Nations Leadership Gathering (FNLG) 2023

November 2-3, 2023, the annual First Nations Leadership Gathering (FNLG) commenced at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This event consisted of one of the largest meetings of provincial and First Nation leaders, and the gathering was designed to recognize, respect, and honour relationships between our respective governments through joint dialogue and collaboration. To achieve this purpose, the gathering consisted of one-on-one meetings between First Nations leadership and provincial government representatives.

The St’át’imc Chiefs Council (SCC) Chair Chief Justin Kane and Co-Chair Chief Don Harris, attended these meetings alongside a team of technical staff consisting of Art Adolph (SCC DoO), Michelle Edwards (Tmicw Coordinator), Cait Cameron (Policy Advisor), and Cheyanne Watkinson (Communications Specialist). This group met with the following Ministries: Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI), Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ECCS), Ministry of Indigenous Relations (MiRR), Ministry of Forests (MoF), Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI), and Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship (WLRS). The main objective was to establish a government-to-government table with the ministries and to provide the understanding that the SCC is a recognized government from an Advanced Tax Ruling. From there, these were the following issues brought up with each of the ministries:

  • Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI)
    • BC Hydro’s application for a Water License into perpetuity
    • St’át’imc/BC Hydro Settlement Agreement – to align with Bill-41 DRIPA
    • Mining activities within the territory and the request of a hydrology study to impacted watershed areas
    • The immediate need to make Talisker a Protected Area
  • Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ECCS)
    • BC Parks: Spruce Lake Ranger Cabin
      • SCC seeks support for Spruce Lake to have a St’át’imc Guardianship/Stewardship Program
    • Fish Farms and the harmful impacts to Fraser River Wild Salmon (FRWS)
      • Recommendations to removal of fish farms on migration routes of the FRWS
      • Bring to light impact studies intentionally omitted to allow fish farms continued operation
      • It was stressed that the loss of FRWS would mean the loss of St’át’imc culture and food security
    • It was requested that the ECCS conduct a Cumulative Effect Study that not only looks at it from a scientific perspective but also from a St’át’imc cultural perspective
  • Ministry of Indigenous Relations (MiRR)
    • BC Treaty and Reconciliation Agreements impacting St’át’imc Territory
    • Overlap issues created by provincial processes
    • Bill-41 DRIPA – Implementation & Action Plan
      • Influenced by the BCTC Negotiations Policy; and as such Non-Treaty options have not been defined and do not exist under the distinction-based approach described in the 5-Year Action Plan
      • Negotiate joint or consent-based decision-making agreements that reflect free, prior, and informed consent under Section 6 & 7 of DRIPA.
    • Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery
      • The Doctrine of Discovery is a discriminatory ideology used by Canada and the Provinces that provided a framework for Christian explorers, in the name of their sovereign, to lay claim to territories uninhabited by Christians.  Which deemed Indigenous Territories as vacant – Terra Nullius, “uninhabited,” and “empty”
        • To begin reconciliation, the Doctrine of Discovery must be repudiated by the Province
        • MiRR agrees there is no basis for the Doctrine of Discovery in BC and this is something to be discussed with the Attorney General
  • Ministry of Forests (MoF)
    • Lillooet Timer Supply Review (TSR) and AAC
      • Requests for political and operational discussions, and this includes establishing a political and technical table
      Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements (FCRSAs) in St’át’imc Territory
      • SCC expresses concerns with the contentious provincial CAD System and overlaps creating divisive relationships and animosity.
    • It was requested that the ECCS conduct a Cumulative Effect Study that not only looks at it from a scientific perspective but also from a St’át’imc cultural perspective
  • Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI)
    • Nation agreement for Right of Ways (RoWs) outside of Reserve Lands
      • MoTI does not have an agreement with St’át’imc regarding Hwy 99 outside of reserve lands (widening of road, re-alignment).
    • Highway RoWs impacts on archaeological and heritage sites
      • Construction, Realignments, and widening of Hwy 99 impacted and destroyed St’át’imc Culture, Traditions and Archaeology sites along Hwy 99.
    • Upgrade the In-SHUCK-ch Forest Service Road (FSR) to highway
      • Accidents involving school buses and children sharing the road with logging trucks, SCC contends safety could be improved if designated as highway
  • Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship (WLRS)
    • Restoration and protection of the Fraser River Wild Salmon (FRWS)
    • Third parties (Telus, BCH, Shaw) using MoTI RoWs without the agreement of St’át’imc

The government-to-government table was brought up at each of these meetings, and each of the Ministries agreed to move forward with the St’át’imc Chiefs Council (SCC) at this level and recognize them as a government. It was also discussed to start the implementation of Bill-41 DRIPA and the SCC seeks for the Ministries to follow through.

St’át’imc Chiefs Council (SCC) hopes to continue with the 11 communities providing full transparency by providing continuing updates on the process to address and fix the issues that are occurring.