Recent History – 2001-2003
October 1, 2003
By Gary Rusak,Daily News Staff
The Oil and Gas Conference opened with a strongly worded resolution from the Treaty 8 First Nations, who said they will work together to negotiate with the province.
“The province continues to give rights to oil and gas without our assistance,” said Chief Gary Oker of Doig River. “It’s all talk now and we are tired of listening to lip service.”
Representatives of the Treaty 8 reserves feel that the negotiations on land treaties have been stalled for too long. They say that they have been overlooked in the recent massive oil and gas rights sale from the province.
“You’re here celebrating what you’ve taken from our lands yesterday, and you are here celebrating what you are going to take today and tomorrow,” Chief Liz Logan said in her address to the conference.
“We’re here to tell you that we are not here to celebrate along with you.” The speech went on to say that there is a “growing concern” among elders and youth about the exploitation of reserve lands. The idea for the dramatic move was discussed a strategy meeting held last week with about 70 participants.
“We intend to ensure that the long term cumulative impacts of development are properly assessed,” she continued. “That appropriate and equitable revenue sharing agreements are concluded as soon as possible.”
The group also read aloud a resolution that was signed by the seven chiefs of the Treaty 8 reserves. It referred to the “recent court cases (that) have affirmed the legal and political positions”. It also went on to accuse the crown of “deliberately attempting to undermine” the legitimate treaty.
“We are making a statement here that we will honour and uphold Treaty 8,” said Chief Oker. “These issues have to be addressed.”
The nation’s frustration is evident in their resolution, which calls for a “co-ordinated action plan to exercise First Nations Title and Rights in the lands and resources in all of our collective territory of Treaty 8.”
The representatives have set a six-month deadline for the federal and provincial governments to come to negotiate with them. If this is not met it is unclear what the next step will be.
“We are developing an action plan,” said Logan without further explanation.
Reacting to the comments, South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom was diplomatic. “I was somewhat surprised by the action,” said Lekstrom. “I don’t look at them as native and non-native, I look upon everyone as British Columbians. We all have to work together to make the resources of the region benefit all British Columbians.”
As for the six-month deadline, Lekstrom said he hopes that negotiations can begin as soon as possible. “Treaty 8 is over 100 years old,” he said. “So I hope we can talk sooner rather than later.”
Lekstrom also said that he is “not a supporter of giving preference to one group over another.”
This article is taken from the Peace River Block Daily News, Dawson Creek, with the permission of the publisher. The Daily News retains all rights relating to this material. The information in this article is intended solely for research or general interest purposes.