Premier’s Statement Regarding National Day Of Action
For Immediate Release
June 28, 2007
Office of the Premier
VICTORIA – Premier Gordon Campbell made the following statement today in advance of the National Day of Action planned by Aboriginal peoples across the country.
“On June 29, many Aboriginal people will participate in rallies and peaceful demonstrations to raise awareness about the social and economic disparity in their communities and the lack of resolution of historical land issues.“Our government recognizes the frustrations and challenges Aboriginal people face. That’s why we are committed to closing the gaps that exist between Aboriginal people and other British Columbians.
“Two years ago, the First Nations Leadership Council and our government came together to build a new relationship – one based on mutual respect, reconciliation and recognition of Aboriginal rights and title. We are taking bold steps together and are the only province in the country that has formalized a working relationship with First Nations leaders in this way.
“The principle of reconciliation compels us to acknowledge that wrongdoings have occurred at all levels of government. Together, we will move forward to correct and overcome past mistakes that have distanced government from Aboriginal people.
“For instance, this year, we set in motion removal from the B.C. legislature of murals that have long offended First Nations by depicting Aboriginal people in passive, subservient roles. And after decades of impact from flooding of the Williston Reservoir during construction of the WAC Bennett Dam in the 1960s, the Province and BC Hydro signed agreements with Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene to compensate them for the destruction of their communities. Our government also settled a long-standing claim with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations related to the land where the legislature now sits.
“We are fully engaged with First Nations leaders as we work to improve the day-to-day lives and well-being of Aboriginal people. Together with the First Nations Leadership Council, we signed the Transformative Change Accord that commits us to closing the socio-economic gaps in economic opportunities, education, health care and housing by 2015.
“B.C. is the first province in Canada to sign a tripartite First Nations Health Plan with the goal of ensuring First Nations are involved in decision-making regarding the health of their peoples. Additionally, the Province has provided the council with $9.5 million to improve First Nations health and appointed the first-ever Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor.
“We also signed an agreement with the federal government that provides First Nations jurisdiction over education, extending to delivery and curriculum, which recognizes First Nations culture. Last month, we launched a $65-million Aboriginal post-secondary strategy to help Aboriginal students start, stay in and succeed in post-secondary education and training.
“We continue to work jointly to support language revitalization, increase housing options and open up economic opportunity to First Nations people, as we strive towards our mutual goal of improving the lives of Aboriginal people in British Columbia.
“First Nations and Aboriginal leaders in British Columbia have taken extraordinary steps toward building healthier communities for their people, and they should be proud of their accomplishments.
“On June 29, we will listen with respect to voices that seek to raise awareness, educate Canadians and offer hopeful solutions to the enduring challenges Aboriginal people face. We expect and urge those who choose to participate to engage in safe, legal activities to further this awareness-building and productive dialogue.
“The relationship between our government and the Leadership Council shows negotiation and co-operation is the best way to close long-standing social and economic gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. We will continue to work together to forge a new, brighter future for all British Columbians.”
Office of the Premier