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Statement from B.C. New Democrats to mark National Aboriginal Day

June 21, 2014 – New Democrat leader John Horgan and aboriginal affairs and reconciliation critic Doug Donaldson released the following statement to mark National Aboriginal Day:

“Today, we join with all Canadians to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

“We celebrate and honour the three distinct indigenous groups in Canada — First Nations, Inuit and Métis — and the richness of indigenous peoples’ accomplishments, cultures, traditions and languages.

“Here in B.C., as elsewhere, we must also reflect on the importance of ensuring the rights and title of B.C. First Nations are respected, and that they are full partners in decisions about economic growth and resource development on traditional territories.

“B.C. First Nations understand better than anyone the threat posed by the Enbridge pipeline to local economies and to B.C.’s land, air and water. Their concerns have been ignored in the federal government’s decision to approve the project, and their constitutional rights have not been addressed.

“Excluding First Nations and ignoring rights and title is not only unjust; it jeopardizes important opportunities for economic partnerships that could benefit all B.C. communities.

“While we reflect on the work to be done, most of all today, we celebrate. We celebrate indigenous arts and culture, contributions to public life, science, entrepreneurship and sport. We celebrate the commitment of First Nations in B.C. to work with their neighbours to make life better for all living here.

“As we mark National Aboriginal Day, let us pledge to move forward together for mutual prosperity and with a greater commitment to justice and rights. And let us celebrate the strong, vibrant and diverse indigenous cultures that enrich this province.”