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Premier re-building a once strenuous First Nations relationship

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Former Vancouver Island chief, Judith Sayers says the Premier is picking and choosing groups whose traditional territories are rich in potential for liquefied natural gas development, while others are left with little attention.

All this followed last week’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which granted aboriginal title for the first time in Canadian history to the B.C. central interior Tsilhqot’in First Nation.

Simon Fraser University professor, William Lindsay echoes the views of many, saying the decision means industry leaders will now have to talk about environmental stewardship in what Tsilhqot’in chief, Joe Alphonse has called “a meaningful and respectful way.”

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The Premier has been attempting to make the connection between the government and aboriginals more personal, and patch things up after her widely viewed bureaucratic blunder early this year.

It April, her government exempted 99 per cent of the natural gas produced in the province from the environmental review process, prompting the gathered First Nations at a native LNG conference in Fort Nelson to kick provincial officials out of the summit.

The government quickly engineered a one day U-turn, reversing the policy decision, and the Premier has now held a chief-to-chief meeting in Fort Nelson hoping to make her personal touch the cornerstone of a major adjustment in her government’s First Nation’s policy. 

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