Northern B.C. aboriginal leaders mount unified voice for ‘fair’ consultation

VANCOUVER – A new alliance of aboriginal leaders from across northern British Columbia has been formed to pressure the provincial government to give First Nations leverage on massive development projects in the province.

The alliance has released an open letter to Premier Christy Clark saying the government has ignored significant legal victories and blocks them from managing their own territories.

Chief Liz Logan, with the Fort Nelson First Nation, says the new alliance does not oppose development but is concerned about projects such as liquefied natural gas facilities and the Site C hydroelectric dam.

The letter was sent ahead of talks on Wednesday in Vancouver between First Nations and B.C. politicians where the two sides will meet to discuss the historic Tsilhqot’in land deal.

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs vice-president Bob Chamberlin says the provincial government has only been offering lip-service about implementing their rights under the court ruling.

Premier Christy Clark says she won’t address the issues raised in the letter until after the talks, but notes it is always her government’s goal to ensure fair consultation and accommodation takes place.