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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on First Nations

    Editorial & Opinions, Election Candidates    October 9, 2018

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on First Nations issues.

Questions about First Nations

  1. What would you do to recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples concerning the use, access and protection of un-ceded lands and resources, especially with archaeological, cultural, and historical sites?

Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I would establish the firm protocol of beginning every meeting with recognition of the traditional territory upon which the meeting is taking place.

Further, I would like to have regular consultation with the First Peoples, particularly the nations traditionally around Salt Spring. Because the mandate of the Islands Trust is to “preserve and protect”, it seems appropriate to seek input from the first guardians of the land.

Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee):

The federal and provincial government are now trying to reconcile with the First Nations

Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee):

Continue to work with the Archeological Branch of the Provincial Government and First Nations to identify the archeological, cultural and historic sites in which First Nations have an interest. Such interests need to form a part of a renewed Official Community Plan and a long term, integrated strategic plan for the island.

Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director):

Consultation with First Nations, particularly regarding archaeological, cultural, and historical sites, is morally and legally required. I will ensure that meaningful consultation with First Nations (there are 15 with traditional territories overlapping SSI) is an integral part of CRD infrastructure projects and other initiatives, unlike Phase 2 of the North Ganges Transportation Plan, which despite taxpayer approval of funding four years ago, apparently only discovered only very recently the potential for First Nations impacts.

The protection of sacred sites like Grace Islet is particularly important. As MLA, I worked with First Nations and local activists to protect this site forever. Xwaaqw’um is another extremely important site that supported traditional First Nations uses since time immemorial. As a Board member of The Land Conservancy of BC and the SSI Conservancy, I worked with hundreds of islanders and conservation agencies to protect what we settlers call Burgoyne Bay. As MLA I’ve attended several events at Xwaaqw’um and was proud and inspired to participate in the recent canoe launching there. As CRD Director, I will continue to support such projects, which represent important opportunities for reconciliation.

The current provincial government has just recently protected all Crown lands on SSI, the culmination of decades of advocacy by the Crown Land Use Coalition and groups like the SSI Conservancy. First Nations were consulted as part of the Provincial decision-making process and may have cultural and other interests in these Crown lands. I will advocate for the accommodations of these interests, while protecting the ecological and recreational values of these lands.

The establishment of a National Marine Conservation Area for the Salish Sea, co-managed by the 19 First Nations whose territories overlap this area, presents a significant opportunity for reconciliation, protection of thousands of marine species, including our endangered southern resident Orca, as well as economic development, not just for First Nations but our entire region.

Howard Holzapfel (candidate for Islands Trustee):

The Islands Trust mandate applies to all people in the Islands including indigenous peoples. We should respect their burial and archeological sites as we would respect our own. The rights of indigenous peoples are well established in law and I support their assertiveness in maintaining our environment.

Laura Patrick (candidate for Islands Trustee):

We must do more than just acknowledge that each public meeting is being held on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. We must show recognition of, and respect for, indigenous peoples both past and present. We must reach out and develop strong, ongoing relationships with indigenous peoples by building open pathways for dialogue.

We must ensure that Trust planning staff and CRD building permit staff are trained and competent in understanding the Heritage Conservation Act. They should know where the island’s protected archeological and heritage sites are located and should understand the various mechanisms designed to protect these sites. They need to be able to recognize that, if possible archeological deposits have been exposed by ground altering activities, they know what actions need to be taken.

We need to develop educational programs and materials for the general public, rezoning applicants, contractors and building permit applicants so that they understand their roles and responsibilities if they expose archeological deposits during ground altering activities. Everyone must understand that it is far better to report a chance find than to attempt to conceal it.

My campaign platform is focused on maintaining and strengthening our environmental safeguards to keep Salt Spring and the Trust Area special, and to set a world-class example of sustainability. We must integrate Traditional Knowledge with the development of stewardship practices and policies.

We need to reach out to, and work with, indigenous people to create and deliver these educational programs.

Robin Williams (candidate for CRD Director):

The is a question often raised at the Islands Trust Conservancy meetings. The correct answer is we leave this to our First Nations Liaison Fiona McRaild and other staff to provide advice generally in the form of a staff report. The Islands Trust is currently directly engaged with 17 First Nations, some of whom have conflicting interests. So we leave it to staff to provide direction as to how to proceed.

2. The Islands Trust adopted the First Nations Engagement Principles Policy in 2016. What actions would you take to empower local First Nations to connect meaningfully with Salt Spring Island?

Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I would invite regular, monthly consultation in conjunction with the town hall meetings that I envision, and follow the guiding principles of the FNEPP:

  1. Listen and learn;
  2. Being Authentic;
  3. Facilitating Island connections.

I would support the creation of additional protocol agreements with the First Nations who have traditionally occupied this territory. We have Protocol Agreements in place with only 2 of 23 Nations.

I would additional encourage educational opportunities and best practices when dealing with the First Guardians of this land.

Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I believe opening communications with the local first Nations band

And asking them how they want to be recognized on salt Spring and how we The people on our island can help them out now

Starting a cultural exchange program

Teaching islanders their first Nations history and traditions

Removing all signs from salt Spring and the other gulf Islands that say reservation this word should be put in our past like The word Indian it has no place in today’s world

Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I would invite First Nations to be a part of the review of our Official Community Plan and long term strategic plan for which I have been advocating. In accordance with the Policy, I would: work with staff and Trustees to provide a framework for engaging and building relationships between Islands Trust and First Nations; find opportunities for collaboration and mutual support through its many organizational activities; initiate and maintain respectful relationships with First Nations communities.

Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director):

These engagement principles or their equivalent, should be adopted by all local government bodies, including CRD. First Nations have finite capacity and a number of important issues to grapple with in their own communities. We can better ensure meaningful First Nations connection on specific projects by implementing an engagement policy or protocol that ensures early notification regarding proposals, and provides assistance with travel and other costs associated with site visits by elders, cultural workers or staff. Ongoing opportunities for reconciliation as at Xwaaqw’um and through the efforts of local groups like SSI Justice and Reconcilation, which could be aided by Community to Community funding through the Union of BC Municipalities, will foster a stronger connections with First Nations that will serve us in good stead regarding specific proposals.

Howard Holzapfel (candidate for Islands Trustee):

I admit I’m not familiar with all the provisions of the First Nations Engagement Policy, but I would say that respect must be the first principle. I would like to recognize here the Tsawout Reserve Trail that has generously been opened for use by residents and visitors to Salt Spring.

Laura Patrick (candidate for Islands Trustee):

We must reach out and develop strong ongoing relationships with indigenous peoples by building open pathways for dialogue.

I am committed to making the Trust’s First Nations Engagement Principles policy mean more than words. To develop meaningful relationships requires genuine and sincere actions. Simply referring an application for consultation, for example, is not sufficient. We need to reach out, listen and learn what we can do to make First Nations engagement respectful and meaningful, and to truly recognize indigenous peoples, present and past.

As Trustee, I bring experience working respectively with First Nations, both in terms of meaningful engagement on projects and in building long-term relationships.

Robin Williams (candidate for CRD Director):

The CRD also has a First Nations Liaison Sue Hallett whom I have worked quite closely. The principle area of interest has been Ganges Harbour. We engaged First Nations Elders in the opening of the Harbour Kiosk near Moby’s, We are currently working on First Nation archeological assessments for both the Ganges Harbour Walk and the Lower Ganges Road section of the North Ganges Transportation Plan. In this term I hope to see a resolution at the provincial level of the land claim issue and have this incorporated into the harbour revitalization and Peck’s Cove Park and adjacent properties.

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