B.C. Premier John Horgan, centre, joins members of the Kaska, Tahltan and Taku River Tlingit First Nations and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation during the Premier’s Award gala Nov. 2 in Victoria. (Contributed photo)

Northern First Nations partnership reshaping government’s approach to reconciliation

Kaska, Tahltan and Tlingit First Nations share Premier’s Award for Innovation with ministry

The partnership of three Northern B.C. First Nations and the province that is substantially changing how the government approaches issues of reconciliation, has won a Premier’s Award for Innovation.

The partnership was recognized for it’s unique spirit of cooperation between the Kaska, Tahltan and Taku River Tlingit First Nations and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

The 3Nations partnership began around 2009 as a joint effort to keep local Indigenous children out of government care. It then evolved to include an assortment of issues unique to the north pertaining to wildlife, education and resource development.

READ MORE: Tahltan leader wins award

The partnership further distinguishes itself by putting the interests of children and youth first.

“That’s where it started and that’s still the main principle that guides our decisions as a group,” said Tahltan Central Government President Chad Norman Day. “We keep the children at the centre of the table in all our discussions.”

For example, Day adds, the group is sending several youth with its delegation to the Association of Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver this January. Approaching the industry as an alliance of sorts, with a spectrum of representatives from youth up to government officials, Day says the three nations can potentially secure greater benefits and better mitigate any impacts further down the road.

“Whenever one of us gets to the point where we’re stepping on the toes of another nation, we bring it back to the fact that we’re all northern people, we all share history together, and it’s all about making sure the Tahltan, Kaska and Tlingit children and grandchildren are able to be unified and thrive in the north. There’s a lot of things coming at us and it’s very important to stay united.”

READ MORE: Tahltan to get $7M annual cut of Brucejack tax revenue

Since forming their partnership with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, 3Nations has established working relationships with several other ministries for economic, family, social and educational initiatives.

The annual awards ceremony held Nov. 2 in Victoria recognized achievements in the BC Public Service sector. To win the Award for Innovation, judges noted the unique 3Nations-B.C. regional partnership had shifted reconciliation work to be more in line with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“A huge part of my life, my job, is building partnerships with government, industry and other first nations,” Day says. “This has been some of my proudest work, to see us build these relationships with our neighbours. It just makes me really excited as a leader of the Tahltan and as a father to know that these three nations will continue to build on their unity into the future.”

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