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First Nations, B.C. cabinet discuss updating laws to align with UN declaration

British Columbia

British Columbia’s Indigenous leaders and provincial cabinet members are holding their annual meeting and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says, for the first time in six years, he has a sense of hope.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says he has sense of hope for first time in 6 years

The Canadian Press ·

Premier John Horgan delivers opening remarks at the 2019 B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering at the Vancouver Convention Centre. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

British Columbia’s Indigenous leaders and provincial cabinet members are holding their annual meeting and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says, for the first time in six years, he has a sense of hope.

Phillip spoke at the opening news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, saying he is thrilled the provincial government has embraced the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but that enormous work lies ahead.

Premier John Horgan’s government introduced Bill 41 last month, mandating B.C. to update laws and policies to align with the UN declaration and becoming the first province in Canada to commit to implementing the document.

Cheryl Casimer with the First Nations Summit says the next step is to create an action plan to guide the harmonization of Indigenous rights with existing provincial policies and laws.

She says conversations over the two-day meeting offer the first opportunity to exchange ideas about ways to implement Bill 41.

More than 900 people, representing almost 200 First Nations, are taking part in the talks, the sixth year Indigenous leaders have addressed important community issues through one-on-one meetings with provincial cabinet ministers.

Horgan echoed Phillip, agreeing the hard work to implement Bill 41 begins with the action plan.

“We’ll be developing that together, as we did [with the] legislation,” he told the news conference.

“That is genuine reconciliation, when partners come together and say, ‘What’s the best way forward?'”

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