Reservoir behind Mica Dam, one of dams constructed under terms of the Columbia River Treaty. (Bonneville Power Ad)

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Three B.C. First Nations have marked what is being called a “historic moment” after joining international talks to modernize a treaty over a major river flowing between Canada and the United States.

READ MORE: U.S. payment to Canada a focus at Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated as observers when the most recent negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty were held in Washington, D.C., last week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in April that the three First Nations would join the seventh round of talks and Indigenous representatives are to return when discussions reconvene in Cranbrook, B.C., in September.

Canada and the United States are seeking to update the 1961 treaty that governs development and operation of dams in the Upper Columbia River basin and manages power and flood control for both countries.

First Nations representatives had already been working with the federal and provincial governments on treaty strategies, but their participation last week marked the first time they were present in the negotiating room.

The Columbia River — the fourth-largest by volume in North America — begins in the Rocky Mountains near Invermere, B.C., and runs through the province into Washington state before cutting west along the Oregon boundary to the Pacific Ocean.

A joint statement from Indigenous representatives says much work lies ahead to modernize the treaty, but they are pleased with what they observed.

“This precedent-setting role as observers builds on and enhances our important work with Canada and B.C. over the last two years,” says the statement from the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations.

“We are confident that we can continue to contribute positively to these negotiations and help realize the First Nations’ goals for meaningful outcomes … that are of critical importance to our nations and homelands.”

Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, called the round of talks a “historic moment” and a “significant step forward.”

She says inclusion supports the B.C. government’s commitment to reconciliation, and the recent talks took stock of progress made since discussions on the treaty’s modernization began in May 2018.

“The latest discussions focused on flood-risk management, power and adaptive management,” Conroy says in a release.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Port Alice RCMP are asking the public to slow down in construction zones

The alleged dangerous speeding incident is still under investigation.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Creekside Apartments gets utility charge relief from Port Hardy council

The apartment building is undergoing restoration from a fire that happened back in 2017.

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Fisherman snags barracuda off Vancouver Island in rare encounter

Ferocious fish, not native to Canada, was netted and released in Alberni Inlet

Most Read