Minister responds to Blueberry First Nations cumulative concerns

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation issued a statement this afternoon after Blueberry First Nations expressed concerns about the amount of work causing damage on their land this morning at a press conference in Vancouver.

The statement details that the government wants to work with the Blueberry First Nations and will make every attempt to do so.

“We are aware of Blueberry River First Nations’ concerns regarding resource development in their traditional territory.

Several attempts have been made to get Blueberry River First Nations involved in the northeast cumulative effects program and the Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment project. This collaborative work includes incorporating treaty rights into the analysis and management of cumulative effects, and ensures Treaty 8 First Nations are directly involved in managing cumulative effects on the land base throughout northeast B.C.

We recognize the importance of assessing, monitoring and managing the cumulative effects of resource development and have developed a cumulative effects framework that is being applied in northeast British Columbia.  The framework provides policy, procedures and  tools to improve the consideration of cumulative effects in natural resource decision-making. We also regulate all industries with rigorous environmental standards, and have programs in place to protect critical habitat for wildlife and water resources, and to ensure our air is clean.

We are renewing our attempts today to have Blueberry River First Nations join our regional initiatives, which include participation and support from the majority of Treaty 8 First Nations.

We welcome participation from Blueberry River First Nations. We are committed to reaching a respectful, government-to-government relationship that ensures Blueberry River has both economic opportunities and a strong role in environmental stewardship within their traditional territory.”