South Island Regional Advisory Committee (Justice and Community Sector)For more information on RACs in general and other aspects of the treaty process, refer to the BC Treaty Commission web page.
Background to ARC's involvement in SIRACThe current B.C. Treaty process calls for openness and consultation. In addition to the three parties at the negotiating table (First Nations, the Federal government, the B.C. Provincial government) various advisory committees have been set up, so that other sectors of the community can learn about progress and express their opinion of the negotiations while they are proceeding. Municipal representatives form one committee. Others deemed to have a direct stake in the outcome of settlements, i.e. land and resource users and Crown lease and licence holders also participate in either province-wide or regional committees. Negotiators for the Federal and Provincial governments meet with and report to the committees on a regular basis.
ARC Victoria obtained a seat on the South Vancouver Island Regional Advisory Committee (SIRAC) representing " the larger community and justice sector". As a prerequisite is to demonstrate that your organization represents a sector that is not already participating, our presentation stressed that organizations with an interest in social justice should have a voice. (The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs endorsed this view). ARC's affiliation with the major churches carried a lot of weight here and letters of recommendation from various local church leaders were influential.
There are approximately 25 regular members of SIRAC, most of them with an interest in protecting access to land and resources, from members of the forestry and fishing industries down to the local rod and gun clubs. ARC Victoria is in a minority in taking a broad view and seeking just and equitable settlements both for First Nations and for society as a whole. We speak out, for example, against policies such as "interim meaures", whereby resources continue to be extracted at an ever-increasing pace by lease-holders during negotiations from lands under claim, a situation which will result in few or no resources being left for the First Nations by the time treaties are signed.
Refer to Defining our Interest in SIRAC for a summary of ARC's original presentation to the BC Treaty Commission.