10 B.C. Indigenous groups get federal funding to rebuild their governance structure

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The Government of Canada is providing funding to support 10 B.C. Indigenous groups in their quest for self-determination.

Receiving $2.6 million through the 2020-21 Nation Rebuilding Program include the Beaver People in northeastern British Columbia and northwestern Alberta, Gitanyow Huwlip Society, Gitxsan Treaty Society, Lake Babine Nation, Secretariat of the Haida Nation, Tiyt Tribe, Southern Dakelh Nation Alliance Society, Stellat’en and Nadleh Whut’en First Nations, Office of the Wet’suwet’en and WSANEC Leadership Council Society.

Prior to making the announcement late Thursday afternoon (Nov. 12), Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett met virtually with the Gitanyow Huwlip Society Hereditary Chiefs to learn more about the work being undertaken in their northwestern B.C. nation.

“I think the work that’s happening in British Columbia is totally aspiring,” Bennett said.

President and chief negotiator for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Office, Glen Williams, said the program has provided critical resources to help Gitanyow strengthen how they share land use planning and forestry information with their neighbours.

“In our current project, we are able to formalize our Indigenous laws through review of our constitution and continue talks between our elected leadership and the Hereditary Chiefs to better formalize roles and responsibilities,” he said in a statement.

“Our approach is to develop modern tools to support and strengthen our traditional governance.”

The Nation Rebuilding Program was established in 2018 with Canada committing $100 million in funding over five years.

“Because it’s a judiciary responsibility of Canada what we need to do is to get people out from under it in the way that 25 self-governing nations now have,” Bennett said of the Indian Act.

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune