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One year later
Letter to Ministers

February 6, 1998

Minister Jane Stewart
Minister of Indian Affairs
Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario

Minister John Cashore
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, British Columbia

Chief Joe Mathias
First Nations Summit
Vancouver, British Columbia

Dear Minister Stewart, Minister Cashore, and Chief Mathias:

Re: Delgamuukw Implementation

The Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Victoria) and many other other British Columbians are increasingly being subjected by industry-sponsored media campaigns which, in a simplistic and misleading way, argue that Delgamuukw's will destroy British Columbia's economy. ARC (Victoria), having had the experience of dealing directly with these interest groups, fears that they may strengthen and imperil the prospects of just settlement of land claims. Our experience suggests the need for two initiatives:

bulleta genuine and accessible explanation of Delgamuukw. Both levels of government should immediately embark on a public education program which, in a candid and forthright way, explains that the law now requires a fresh approach. The public education effort should be informed by the Chief Justice's wise words that "Let us face it, we are all here to stay." The program should take care to avoid the 'spin-doctoring' which all too often impairs government efforts at public education. The Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Victoria) has in recent years sponsored local public discussions on aboriginal issues (see our most recent newsletter, attached). Our modest efforts at public education have convinced us that there is much work to be done - especially by government - in informing the public about land claim issues.
bulletan immediate reconsideration of the treaty negotiation process. Delgamuukw clearly means that government cannot carry out 'business as usual'. We realize that considerable care must be taken to make the right changes in light of the decision's thorough analysis. But there is a risk of undue delay: an extended delay in implementing Delgamuukw will only generate further tensions and misunderstandings.

Our membership is committed to assisting in both of these initiatives.

Finally, ARC (Victoria) at this point does not have specific recommendations on how to implement Delgamuukw. Like many others, we are carefully reviewing the decision. We have also formed a 'Delgamuukw Implementation Task Force' which will, in consultation with ARC members, aboriginal representatives, and experts in aboriginal law, develop an advocacy action plan. We hope to meet with you in March or April to convey our perspectives on how Delgamuukw should be implemented.

Sincerely,

Waldemar Braul
President

cc. Alec Robertson, BC Treaty Commission