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Treaty process mires B.C. First Nations in $420M debt | Warrior Publications

Ottawa needs to consider a flexible exit strategy for British Columbia First Nations frustrated and debt-challenged by slow-moving treaty negotiations, says a special report prepared for federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.

The 47-page report by former Campbell River, B.C., mayor James Lornie, appointed Duncan’s special B.C. treaty representative last year, states First Nations treaty negotiations debt now tops $420 million, which is insurmountable and an unsustainable barrier to reaching treaties.

The report doesn’t suggest dumping the treaty process after more than 20 years of negotiations, but states First Nations need the option to leave the table without feeling intense pressure to pay off debts and with nothing to show after years of talks.

First Nations should also be allowed to return to negotiations at a later date, it adds.

“I consider that the single most important response that the federal government can make is to re-commit to treaty-making as a federal priority, and to commit to that priority at every level of the federal system,” stated Lornie in the report.

Lornie submitted the document to Duncan last November, but it was only made public last week.

Duncan could not be immediately reached for comment, but his office issued a statement, noting the minister, department and treaty-process partners are reviewing the report.

“Canada will continue to explore concrete, specific ways to address many of the issues and recommendations raised in the report through existing initiatives,” said a statement from Duncan’s director of communications Jason MacDonald.

FULL ARTICLE: Treaty process mires B.C. First Nations in $420M debt | Warrior Publications.

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