20 First Nations sign letter denouncing flawed engagement process on modernization of forest policy in B.C.
September 21, 2021 By P&PC Staff
The BC First Nations Forestry Council (the ‘Forestry Council’) signed and submitted an open letter noting serious concerns about the engagement process the Ministry of Forest Lands, Natural Resources Operations & Rural Development (MFLNRORD) is using to involve First Nations in significant changes to forest policy.
20 BC First Nations and Indigenous Forestry Organizations signed the letter demanding a meaningful consultation to ensure that First Nations’ rights, priorities and values are incorporated into the modernization of forest policy in B.C.
In July 2021, FLNRORD sent a letter to some Nations seeking their input on proposed policy amendments. The final deadline was set as Sept. 3, 2021.
“The timeline for consultation is disrespectful, compressed and expedited, and does not allow for meaningful and informed consultation,” says Chief Bill Williams, president of the First Nations Forestry Council. “Under the Declaration Act, changes being proposed to forest legislation, policies and regulations require the prior and informed consent of Nations; at the outset, not after the fact,” he adds.
Dr. Charlene Higgins, CEO of the Forestry Council adds: “How are Nations supposed to participate in an informed and meaningful manner if they don’t have the resources or technical capacity required to understand the implications of the proposed changes and submit answers to 90+ questions into a “consultation portal”? A number of Nations have informed us they have not received a letter from the ministry regarding these proposed changes.”
“The solution is easy,” says Higgins. “The Forestry Council is calling on the Province for an extension until the end of the year, to allow the time needed to co-draft a revised version of the Intentions Paper that reflects First Nations rights and priorities in the modernization of forest policy in BC, and for us to do the technical work with the Nations to assist them in better understanding impacts and implications of the proposed policy changes.”
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