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First Nations leaders 'disgusted' that Opposition derailed proposed BC Land Act amendments

NDP plans major changes to land use decisions
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British Columbia's First Nations Leadership Council is expressing extreme disappointment over the provincial government's decision to drop planned amendments to the Land Act that would have cleared the way for a shared decision-making process with First Nations when it comes to the use of public land.

The NDP government announced it had decided not to proceed with proposed amendments after holding a series of meetings with stakeholders, citing a need to further engage with people and demonstrate the real benefits of shared decision-making in action.

Earlier this month, B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon said his party could not “support giving veto power to five per cent of the population with impacts to over 95 per cent of public land,” referring to First Nations people.

In a Wednesday evening statement, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said “We are absolutely disgusted that the opposition leaders of B.C. United and the B.C. Conservatives leveraged the proposed Land Act amendments as a shameless opportunity for partisan political gain.”

Also in the statement, Cheryl Casimer of the First Nations Summit Political Executive described it as “shocking and regressive,” that a small cohort of so-called leaders utilized these amendments to tap into racist fears and beliefs for their own benefits.

It also suggested that the amendments would have created space in the law to implement an agreement that may be reached in the future -- agreements which are negotiated in accordance with the process and requirements of section 7 of the Declaration Act passed in 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2024.

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