Act now?

Yesterday, we reported Premier Gordon Campbell didn't specifically mention the government's proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act in recent statements commemorating the National Day of Reconciliation and National Aboriginal Day. Instead, at one point, he simply stated government "must continue building the New Relationship and exploring different ways, through either legislation or agreement" to "close the gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations." And that phrase "legislation or agreement" cropped up in the Nanaimo Daily News earlier this month.

Writing to the newspaper's editor, Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister George Abbott said public consultation surrounding legislation will occur following province-wide discussions between the "First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations." The minister then went on to state the ideas in the Recognition and Reconciliation Act's discussion paper demonstrate "our government's continued commitment to the hugely important work to narrow the gaps between First Nations and other British Columbians. It is that work that must continue, either through legislation or agreement."

The following is a complete copy of that letter.

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Re: 'Public must be consulted' (Daily News, July 6)

The idea of reconstituted indigenous nations is a key part of the discussion paper posted the B.C. government website. Province-wide discussions between the First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations are currently taking place to discuss the paper. We must await the outcome of these discussions before any meaningful public consultation can take place. First Nations leaders have also publicly stated that it is premature to consider wider consultation at this stage.

The discussion paper was jointly developed by the Province and the First Nations Leadership Council as one way of further implementing the New Relationship between government and Aboriginal peoples. The ideas in the discussion paper, combined with our work through treaty tables and socio-economic programs demonstrates our government's continued commitment to the hugely important work to narrow the gaps between First Nations and other British Columbians. It is that work that must continue, either through legislation or agreement.

When full consultation with First Nations regarding the discussion paper is complete we will listen respectfully to all voices so we can consider next steps.

George Abbott

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation

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