Letter: Canada needs to disclose how it calculates Indigenous land claims

Kelowna - Timely claims resolution is an essential component of reconciliation

To Ministers Carolyn Bennett and Jody Wilson-Raybould:

We write today to call on you to demonstrate your government’s public commitments to transparency and the renewal of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples by disclosing how Canada calculates its contingent liabilities regarding Indigenous Nations’ land claims – and by affirming your government’s intention to fulfill its outstanding lawful obligations to Indigenous Nations by fairly resolving these claims.

As a recent Globe and Mail article shows, public discourse on claims resolutions is being shaped by speculation about Canada’s mounting financial debt to Indigenous communities, as well as widespread misconceptions regarding claims themselves. Canada’s lack of transparency in how it calculates its contingent liabilities, coupled with these misconceptions, creates a culture of distrust and undermines the political will for claims resolutions.

Additionally, secrecy around liability forecloses discussion on alternative remedies. Indigenous Nations have long expressed a willingness to explore options other than one-time monetary settlements. Canada must be transparent in its calculations regarding contingent liability as part of a broader dialogue on how to advance redress and reconciliation.

If Canada cannot advance this kind of transparency, we call on the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to conduct a full accounting of how Canada calculates its debts to Indigenous Nations.

Canada must also publicly acknowledge its role in perpetuating harmful misconceptions that mislead the public. In particular, as reported in media articles, in statements, and public venues, government representatives should cease demanding that Indigenous Nations identify an “end date” at which all claims will be resolved; Canada should instead publicly emphasize that claims persist because Canada continues to violate its own laws with respect to Indigenous peoples’ lands and waters. As well, Canada must cease perpetuating the false idea that claims processes are slow but generally consistent and fair. In fact, Canada has mismanaged claims processes since their inception and to a startling degree over the past decade (as confirmed in a 2016 OAG report). Canada’s conflict of interest lies at the centre of this mismanagement.

As Indigenous Nations have stated for decades, a fully independent process is the only way to advance the truly fair, just, and timely resolution of claims. Your government has publicly stated its support for national engagement such that an independent claims process can be developed jointly with Indigenous Nations. The time to move forward on such a process is now, before the potential disruption of an election.

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded, fair, just, and timely claims resolution is an essential component of reconciliation. The right of redress is clearly articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UNDRIP also requires that states, in cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take effective measures to combat prejudice and discrimination, and promote understanding and good relations. Disclosing how your government is calculating its financial debts to Indigenous Nations for Canada’s repeated failures to fulfil its legal obligations toward them, as well as affirming your support for fair, independent claims resolution processes, will be a positive step in meeting this minimum international standard.

On behalf of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chief Robert Chamberlin, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

President, vice-president, secretary-treasurer

Just Posted

Province commits to supporting Indigenous tourism growth in B.C.

The Indigenous Tourism Accord signed during conference in Kelowna

UBC Okanagan, RCMP collab for study on reporting child abuse

A fundraising gala will present a UBCO psych student’s reseach on how and when abuse is reported

Rockets’ Novak receives 8-game suspension

Novak was penalized for a checking-from-behind penalty on Nov.11

Kelowna rental rates least expensive among major B.C. cities

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in Kelowna is $1,233

Rockets help Team WHL to comeback win at Canada Russia Series

Kelowna skaters helped Team WHL to a 2-1 overtime win in game one of the two game series

B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

North Okanagan mom cherishes life-saving alert dog

Carrie Lemay, single mom and a diabetic, welcomed Freckles, an alert guide dog, into her life

Dream funds serve up dream kitchen for Okanagan organization

CMHA upgrades space thanks to Kalamalka Dream Auction donation

Shuswap resident seeks return of stolen jewelry box containing father’s cremated remains

Sicamous RCMP report handmade box was taken from a storage locker

‘It’s been 12 years’: Father of murdered B.C. real estate agent pleads for mayor’s help

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 in Saanich. Her case is unsolved.

Penticton’s OSNS benefits from $10,000 RBC grant

The OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre will use the money for tech upgrades

Radon levels in new Salmon Arm home a concern

Real-time monitoring shows radon concentration just within federally accepted guideline

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

Vernon councillor suggests homeless set up camp at city hall

Overnight camping in city parks is only permitted between dusk and 9 a.m. in specific parks

Most Read