Victoria and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Sept. 14 renewed a commitment to cooperate on advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia.
As such, the government and UBCM inked an updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) highlighting reconciliation as a shared, cross-government responsibility.
The aim is to strengthen sharing information and creating discussions and partnerships with Indigenous peoples in B.C. to benefit people at the community level.
The MOU was signed as a session on reconciliation ended at the UBCM’s annual convention, again being held virtually due to the pandemic. Signing it were Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin, UBCM president Brian Frenkel and UBCM Indigenous relations committee chair and Coquitlam city councillor Trish Mandewo.
"Local governments are key partners in our collective work to advance reconciliation, and there are many opportunities and benefits resulting from our engagement with them,” Rankin said. “Through negotiations and their collaboration with Indigenous communities at the local level, we can better achieve our shared priorities."
The MOU renewal confirms UBCM's support for advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples throughout the province at the local level and underscores local governments' role as valued partners in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Since the MOU’s last update in 2018, the provincial government passed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, establishing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the Province's framework for reconciliation.
"This MOU will further support opportunities for meaningful engagement with local governments as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act is implemented,” Mandewo said.
The MOU also recognizes B.C.'s new policy to modernize treaty negotiations with First Nations, as well as negotiations of other reconciliation agreements. It highlights the local government participation during the negotiation process because community engagement promotes stronger partnerships and leads to better opportunities for everyone, the UBCM said.
The UBCM represents all B.C. member municipalities and regional districts, including nine First Nations members: four Nisga'a villages — Gingolx, Gitlaxt'aamiks, Gitwinksihlkw and Laxgalts'ap, as well as Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Splatsin First Nation, Tla'amin Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation and the Uchucklesaht Tribe.