VICTORIA, B.C. -B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen for Saanich-North and the Islands and B.C. Green MLA Sonia Furstenau for Cowichan Valley look forward to connecting with Indigenous communities from around the province at the B.C. Council and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering this week in Vancouver.
“This year’s increased excitement around the FNLG is a positive reflection of how far British Columbia has come on this path of reconciliation and collective shared well-being and economic prosperity,” said MLA Olsen, who is also a member of Tsartlip First Nation. “The purpose of this gathering is to discuss issues that matter to First Nations communities, which are issues that matter to all British Columbians. For when Indigenous people thrive, all of British Columbia prospers.
“Just two weeks ago saw perhaps the most historic day in the province’s history with an introduction of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, which would implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into BC law.”
MLA Olsen is the B.C. Green Caucus spokesperson for indigenous relations. As a commitment to adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in B.C. is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the B.C. Green Caucus and the BC NDP government, he met many times with Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, to champion the legislation these past months.
“I know firsthand that First Nations are uniquely impacted by many of the issues that are top of mind for the B.C. Green Caucus: child and family well-being, environmental disasters relating to climate change, and BC’s threatened species ranging from salmon to southern resident killer whales, and endangered southern mountain caribou.
“Indigenous communities have also demonstrated remarkable resiliency, innovation, and creativity when it comes to addressing these challenges. Last summer, our caucus was inspired by the work we saw being done by First Nations around the province such as: Sechelt First Nation’s Salish Soils facility, which operates under a zero-waste philosophy; the Okanagan Nation Alliance kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery’s habitat restoration and survival program; and Tla’amin Nation’s initiatives to revive, preserve and celebrate their community’s language and culture through their work at the Sliammon Cultural Department.”
MLA Furstenau has developed a close, collaborative relationship with Cowichan tribes, the largest First Nation in the province. She has also been working to build a collaborative relationship with Malahat First Nation.
“The concerns raised in my riding around child apprehensions, watershed security, and economic resiliency in a time of instability brought on by unprecedented events caused by climate change, are concerns we have heard from others around the province - Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” Furstenau said. “This annual gathering is an opportunity for information exchange, relationship building, and to gather evidence that informs all parties as we build policies moving forward.”
The B.C. Green Caucus is focusing on meeting with Indigenous communities on child welfare, forestry, watershed management, species at risk, remote connectivity and the clean energy economy.