Addressing the goal of Truth and Reconciliation and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in BC means addressing historic injustices such as the impacts of colonization, the legacy of residential schools, and the dispossession of lands, territories and resources. An imperative to address the Final Report of the Inquiry of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Woman and Girls (MMIWG) is long overdue and imminent action is required. The BC Ecosocialist Party aims to do this work with meaningful and lasting actions, not simply tearful apologies and empty words.
The BC Ecosocialists understand there is no one size fits all approach to addressing the needs of indigenous people across BC. We commit to listen and work with indigenous groups, and leaders across the province to determine the best paths to take in the ongoing work of reconciliation, addressing UNDRIP, and MMIWG.
UNDRIP affirms that Indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples and recognizes the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such. Indigenous people have many unique and distinct nations and cultures which remain as broad and diverse as they were pre-colonization. The BC Ecosocialists aim to enhance harmonious and cooperative relationships between Indigenous nations and BC. As outlined in UNDRIP these relationships shall be based on the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination, and good faith.
To address all Articles in UNDRIP and for immediate action, the BC Ecosocialists will:
- Launch an audit of Indigenous children in care and, with the children’s consent, return them to their family. This includes:
- If, as they usually are, children were apprehended due to living in poverty, lack of housing, or the social and psychological effects of these phenomena, we will provide sufficient income and housing supports at government expense.
- If, as it is sometimes the case, children were apprehended because of the intergenerational psychological effects of colonialism on parents and other caregivers, we will provide supported housing and appropriate services for caregivers to mitigate or eliminate these effects.
- Launch an infrastructure building program for BC reserves to address issues related to housing, roads, sidewalks, electrification, internet access, and water/sewage.
- We will end the inter-governmental games of jurisdictional football and buck-passing between the provincial and federal governments when it comes to working with and funding projects involving Indigenous nations, bands, and councils.
- We will fund programs as needed with cost recovery efforts directed at the federal government based on constitutional and treaty obligations.
- We will work with Indigenous nations, bands, and councils to ensure programs and systems are regularly assessed and maintained, particularly in what are currently under served and remote areas.
- Staffing of these efforts will include preferential hiring of Indigenous people, with an emphasis on people who live in the communities affected by these programs.
- Since 1993, the BC government has discriminated against reserve residents on social assistance, reducing their welfare payments below the already unconscionably small amount allowed to other British Columbians on social assistance. We will end this practice.
- Implement a BC Land Reform program in parallel with judicial land claims processes. 94% of BC is public land and much of that is leased to private corporations. We believe that instead of giving preference to private, often foreign-owned, corporations in using this land, priority should go to Indigenous governments or Indigenous-owned cooperative businesses with a need-based rather than compensation-based case for using rural land. This includes:
- Prioritizing trapping, fishing, hunting, tourism, logging, and other land-based activities as primary industries for addressing rural poverty.
- Ensuring local employment in associated secondary industries such as material processing, management and administration, marketing and advertising, and so forth.
- Involving Métis and other marginalized rural communities in the BC Land Reform program, irrespective of their legal standing with respect to land claims.
- Decentralize the BC corrections system so that Indigenous people serving sentences of less than five years can serve them in their own community.
- In the case of fully custodial sentences, this will involve the construction of some small rural correctional facilities that will offer preferential hiring to local Indigenous people both in construction and in subsequent staffing.
- Negotiate land claim processes in good faith with the goal of accelerating the treaty-making process regarding unceded land.
- Respect the authority of both traditional and band council governments over unceded territory.
- Determine a procedural definition of the meaning of court-mandated “prior consultation” on unceded territory that includes the right of any recognized Indigenous government to impose a five-year moratorium on development as an incentive for governments and corporations to engage in fair and appropriate consultation.
- Initiate an Indigenous Safety Audit, an extensive consultation with Indigenous people, especially Indigenous women, both on and off-reserve, to identify and address the BC-specific root causes of the systemic failures that endanger the lives and welfare of Indigenous people, especially as they relate to the Final Report of the Inquiry of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Woman and Girls (MMIWG).