The B.C. government has signed an agreement with a First Nation to provide $65 million in funding to support land restoration and cultural programs, four months after a court ruled the province had breached the nation’s rights.
Indigenous Relations Minister Murray Rankin says the initial agreement will provide $35 million for Blueberry River First Nations to undertake land restoration activities and create jobs for band members and business opportunities for companies operating in the region.
The other $30 million will go toward helping the First Nation protect its cultural way of life and expanding its land management resources, as well as restoring the health of wildlife through management programs.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in June that the provincial government had breached the nation’s rights under Treaty 8, signed more than 120 years ago, because it allowed development such as forestry and natural gas extraction without Blueberry River’s approval.
Rankin says the government wants a better relationship with Indigenous people and agreements like the one signed with Blueberry River will help achieve that goal.
Chief Marvin Yahey of Blueberry River First Nations says he’s pleased the province took the court ruling seriously and has committed to working with the band.
He called the funding “a historic event” that would help his members while also supporting businesses in the region.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021.