Federal government committed to First Nations involvement in Columbia treaty talks: statement | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Federal government committed to First Nations involvement in Columbia treaty talks: statement

Global Affairs Canada says it is working on a new framework to ensure First Nation participation in Columbia River Treaty talks.
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PENTICTON - Three interior B.C. First Nations bands expressed outrage earlier this week at being left out of Columbia Treaty re-negotiation talks just getting underway between Canada and the United States. But that’s not so, according to Global Affairs Canada, who say the Columbia River First Nations are an important part of the negotiation preparations.

“We are committed to have First Nations remain actively involved in the negotiation process,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Brianne Maxwell said in an email statement today, May 25.

The federal government has had regular engagement with First Nations since November 2016, she said.

Maxwell said the government has been engaging First Nations on a monthly basis since February this year as the negotiation process nears.

“Our conversations with these three First Nations will absolutely continue throughout the duration of these negotiations. We are committed to ensuring their voices and perspectives are heard and at the centre of our negotiating priorities,” Maxwell said.

The government has proposed creation of a negotiation advisory team in addition to cooperating on the development of a framework designed to integrate First Nations’ advice and input.

“This approach provides for unprecedented involvement by First Nations in negotiation preparations and continued close involvement throughout the negotiation process,” Maxwell said.

The federal government has also set aside money to ensure funding is available for First Nations’ travel and participation throughout the negotiations, she said.

Maxwell said the federal government will lead, and is responsible for any and all international negotiations, such as in this case.

Earlier this week, the Okanagan Nation, Shuswap Nation Council and the Ktunaxa Nation Council expressed outrage at being left out of the renegotiation talks, calling it "a fundamental betrayal of our three nation's indigenous rights."

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