Reservoir behind Mica Dam, one of dams constructed under terms of the Columbia River Treaty. (Bonneville Power Ad)

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Three B.C. First Nations have marked what is being called a “historic moment” after joining international talks to modernize a treaty over a major river flowing between Canada and the United States.

READ MORE: U.S. payment to Canada a focus at Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated as observers when the most recent negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty were held in Washington, D.C., last week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in April that the three First Nations would join the seventh round of talks and Indigenous representatives are to return when discussions reconvene in Cranbrook, B.C., in September.

Canada and the United States are seeking to update the 1961 treaty that governs development and operation of dams in the Upper Columbia River basin and manages power and flood control for both countries.

First Nations representatives had already been working with the federal and provincial governments on treaty strategies, but their participation last week marked the first time they were present in the negotiating room.

The Columbia River — the fourth-largest by volume in North America — begins in the Rocky Mountains near Invermere, B.C., and runs through the province into Washington state before cutting west along the Oregon boundary to the Pacific Ocean.

A joint statement from Indigenous representatives says much work lies ahead to modernize the treaty, but they are pleased with what they observed.

“This precedent-setting role as observers builds on and enhances our important work with Canada and B.C. over the last two years,” says the statement from the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations.

“We are confident that we can continue to contribute positively to these negotiations and help realize the First Nations’ goals for meaningful outcomes … that are of critical importance to our nations and homelands.”

Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, called the round of talks a “historic moment” and a “significant step forward.”

She says inclusion supports the B.C. government’s commitment to reconciliation, and the recent talks took stock of progress made since discussions on the treaty’s modernization began in May 2018.

“The latest discussions focused on flood-risk management, power and adaptive management,” Conroy says in a release.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Necropsy for Port Edward wolf is inconclusive

Samples sent for forensic analysis; wolf sightings continue

Seafest parade sails on June 27

Tides are turning during COVID-19 for Prince Rupert parade

Prince Rupert school district fires superintendent

Dr. Irene LaPierre removed from position immediately.

B.C. government eyes antlerless moose harvest increase in bid to save caribou

Antlerless moose hunts reduce predation for threatened mountain caribou, says ministry

Wolf killed in Port Edward

Samples to be sent to lab. for testing

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Most Read