Thursday, June 21, 2018

Fourteen Coastal First Nations to join Federal government in partnership on marine protection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chief Marilyn Slett and Transport Minister
Marc Garneau at Seal Cove Coast Guard Base on Thursday

(photo from Transport Canada Periscope feed of event)

With Tuck inlet serving as the backdrop for the national and local media, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rolled out an expansion of the Federal Government's Ocean Protection Plan on Thursday morning, announcing an agreement between the government and fourteen Coastal First Nations when it comes to the management of the ocean.

Speaking from Prince Rupert's Seal Cove Coast Guard base, the Prime Minister called today an important next step in our stewardship journey and an important element towards ongoing reconciliation with First Nations people.

As part of the announcement, the Prime Minister made note of today as National Indigenous People's Day and the fitting nature of this day as part of the celebration of the reconciliation agreement and the nation to nation process that will be moving forward.

"My friends, when we announced our Oceans Protection plan a year and half ago we envisioned Indigenous peoples participating as trusted partners and guides in managing Canada's oceans, and as we implement the Oceans protection plan and the Ocean blue print commitment I know that we could not have better partners than the people gathered here today. 

The First Nations of this region have long been leaders in defining what collaborative management looks like in protected areas and in working landscapes on land and at sea. 

Today is an important next step in our stewardship journey. After much hard work and excellent dialogue I am happy to be here to celebrate the reconciliation framework agreement ... with fourteen First Nations the framework agreement outlines how we will engage on a nation to nation basis going forward, as we develop the policies and practices that will guide us in managing these waters which span about two thirds of the B. C. coast."    

He also highlighted how the agreement provides for opportunities for coordinating efforts together to protect coastlines and to boost the response capabilities of First Nations along the coast.

“The First Nations of the Pacific North and Central Coast have been protecting Canada’s waters for millennia. The Reconciliation Framework Agreement will help us deliver on the promise of ocean collaborative management. Working together, we will protect and preserve the Pacific North Coast, and we will advance reconciliation along the way.” -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Prince Rupert on Thursday morning

The specifics of the plan will see Canada and the fourteen First Nations of the coast implement the Agreement guided by the following principles:

Cultural significance and reliance: Acknowledgement of the importance of the past, present, and future cultural significance, spiritual affiliation, and reliance on the marine ecosystems and resources in the Northern Shelf bioregion to the Pacific North Coast Nations. 

Solution oriented: Seek solutions which respect the rights, responsibilities, and authorities of each of the parties. 

Flexibility: Acknowledge that issues and needs with respect to ocean governance and management vary across local, sub-regional, and regional scales. 

Ecosystem approach: Respect conservation and sustainability of marine ecosystems and resources. 

Transparency and information sharing: Support an effective, inclusive, transparent, and collaborative process for information sharing and document development, which recognizes that some information must be kept confidential.

There are four ministries from the Federal government involved in the agreement, they include:

Minister of Transport Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Minister of Environment and Climate Change Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

The fourteen First Nations partnering with the Federal government today span the North and central Coast, the list includes:

Council of Haida Nation 
Lax Kw’alaams Band 
Gitxaala Nation 
Metlakatla First Nation 
Gitga’at First Nation 
Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation 
K'√≥moks First Nation 
Heiltsuk Nation Nuxalk First Nation 
Wuikinuxv First Nation 
Mamalilikulla Nation 
Tlowitsis Nation D
a'naxda'xw Awaetlatla First Nation 
Wei Wai Kum First Nation

Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Marilyn Slett, who is also President of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative stressed the nation to nation process that is part of the agreement and how it will impact on coastal communities along the coast.

“This agreement is an encouraging and positive step forward in our journey toward nation-to-nation collaboration and reconciliation. Now we have the opportunity to work with Canada to ensure efficient and sustainable marine management and protection initiatives, which promise to preserve healthy and resilient marine ecosystems for all future generations, while supporting coastal communities and economic opportunities today.”

The major thrust towards all of the Prime Minister's responses to questions that followed the announcement was to stress the need for consultation with First Nations when it comes to all elements of development and management of resources in the region and the need for a continued collaborative approach towards that development.

Today's event was streamed live through the social media Periscope Program, you can access the video through this link

The Federal Government also provided some background information on today's announcement which you can review here.

For more items of interest on Federal issues see our House of Commons archive page, a wider overview of National issues can be found from our Political Blog D'arcy McGee.

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