The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has committed to discuss the resolution of an outstanding agreement with its First Nations neighbours within 60 days.
Dan Ashton, Chair of the regional bistrict board, made the commitment during a Community to Community forum Thursday that involved the regional district, its municipal partners, three of the First Nations — the Penticton, Osoyoos and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
“We set that timeline purposefully so that we can get back either through a working group or directly to establish a protocol agreement with the original signatories,” Ashton said following the full-day session at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort and Spa in Osoyoos.
The regional district negotiated the agreement with its First Nations neighbours in 2006; however, it was never ratified.
“I was on the board of the regional district when the Protocol Agreement was initially developed,” Ashton said at a press conference, with Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie at his side.
“The intention of all parties was honourable, but we still have some issues to resolve. It hasn’t stopped us from working together over that period, but the Protocol will take us to the next level.”
Reigniting discussion about the protocol agreement was the focus during a good portion of the forum, which was set up by the regional district to renew dialogue between various levels of government and First Nations in the South Okanagan-Similkameen region.
Senior political leaders from the regional district, City of Penticton, the towns of Osoyoos, Oliver, Summerland and Princeton and the Village of Keremeos participated in Thursday’s forum.
The protocol agreement commits the parties to, among other things, a shared stewardship of regional resources for the benefit of future generations, building a trusting relationship to develop future agreements on social, economic and
environmental goals and establishing a working relationship that respects the governance structure of each organization.
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