Advancing Local Government Relations with Indigenous Peoples

A morning policy session at UBCM Convention Monday received an update on legislative advancements in Indigenous governance and how these changes will affect relationships between First Nations and local governments.  

The first presentations of the morning saw Chris Lewis, Council Member for the Squamish Nation and Mike Furey, Chief Administrative Officer of Whistler, discussing their work together establishing and strengthening local government-to-government relationships. Speaking about similar experiences, L Maynard Harry, founder & Principal Indigenous Analyst of Indigenous Insight, presenting along with Stewart Alsgard, Mayor of Powell River from 1999-2011, discussed the development of the historic Community Accord between the Tla’amin [sly-ah-mon] Nation and the City of Powell River.

Furey, Lewis, Alsgard and Harry all cited the importance of developing protocol agreements between municipal and First Nations governments, and emphasized the need for collaboration between neighbouring governments to increase the scope of services offered while decreasing the costs of service delivery for all governments.

In the second half of the session, delegates heard from panellists including Manny Jules, Chief Commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission, Robert Louie, Chairman of the Lands Advisory Board, and Harold Calla, Executive Chair of the First Nations Financial Management Board. The trio spoke about how legislative mechanisms, established by the First Nations Land Management Act and the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, have empowered First Nations to profitably utilize the resources of their lands. In turn, this economic activity has created a proactive investment climate and has opened doors for increased collaboration and partnership with municipalities.

As speaker Harold Calla said, First Nations and local governments must continue to learn to work together to confront the wrongs of the past. He also warned that failure to do so imperils economic development for all communities.

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