Indigenous observers join Columbia River Treaty Talks

Representatives of Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations included as observers during latest round of Columbia River Treaty negotiations.

The Columbia River Flats stretch south of Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

Representatives from Columbia River Indigenous Nations sat in as observers during a recent round of Columbia River Treaty Negotiations.

The observer team, made up of representatives from the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations attended the seventh round of Columbia River treaty negotiations held June 19 and 20, 2019 in Washington, D.C. In a joint statement, the observer team said:

“While a great deal of work remains to be done, we are very pleased with what we have observed and participated in to date. This precedent-setting role as observers builds on and enhances our important work with Canada and B.C. over the last two years. We are confident that we can continue to contribute positively to these negotiations and help realize the First Nations’ goals for meaningful outcomes from these negotiations that are of critical importance to our nations and homelands.”

Katrine Conroy, Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty also issued a statement, calling the inclusion of the observer team a “historic moment.”

“This round of negotiations marked a historic moment as representatives of Columbia Basin Indigenous Nations were present as observers for the first time. Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations had already been collaborating with the governments of British Columbia and Canada on negotiation positions and strategies; but this week, they were present in the negotiating room and participated in breakout discussions with Canada and B.C. during negotiations,” said Conroy.

In her statement, Conroy said the latest discussions focused on flood-risk management, power and adaptive management. Columbai River Treaty talks return to B.C. in the fall, with the next round of negotiation meetings scheduled to take place in Cranbrook on Sept. 10 and 11, 2019.

To learn more about the treaty, visit:

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