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.

Just Posted

Chilliwack school board votes 4-3 not to oppose homeless shelter location

‘The Portal is a response to the problems, not the other way around’: Trustee Willow Reichelt

Symphony set to spook spectators in Chilliwack

The Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra presents Halloween Symphony Spooktacular on Oct. 27

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Oct. 14 to 20

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

PEARL event raises funds for sexually abused, exploited women in Chilliwack

‘Together Making a Difference’ is the fourth annual fundraiser for PEARL Life Renewal Society

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

VIDEO: Townhouse fourth Maple Ridge blaze in less than a day

UPDATE: Fire victims have much to be thankful for, despite loss of pets on Thanksgiving Day

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Most Read