VANCOUVER – As the BC Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering takes place in this coastal city this week, certain First Nations chiefs are demanding improvements and changes to the resource development process.
In the words of Chief Na Moks of the office of the Wet’su’weten: “We are tired of spending so much of our finances and time fighting for rights that we know to be ours.”
He and other First Nations leaders point to three failings of the current approach. First, no new relationship has been established despite many successful court challenges. Second, they believe the current approach of measuring cumulative environmental impacts is not working. And third, neither provincial nor federal project approval processes go far enough to protect the environment.
A more civil, legally consistent and local approach to major project development is needed. The new approach must recognize the laws and legal rights of the First Nations.
Chief Liz Logan of the Fort Nelson First Nation said, "This would begin real and measurable progress towards reconciliation, and be of benefit to all British Columbians and future generations. Until then, our territories cannot support any more major projects, from natural gas drilling programs and pipelines to mines and large forestry operations, until these matters are properly addressed and our place in this country is protected."