A forum involving the Village of Burns Lake and surrounding First Nations communities will be held in February to increase understanding and improve overall relations between them.
Lake Babine Nation, Burns Lake Band, Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Wet’suwet’en First Nation have confirmed attendance, said Valerie Anderson, the village’s deputy corporate officer, adding invitations have been sent to all six surrounding First Nations.
The event was originally expected to be held on Jan. 23, but due to a conflicting date with another event, it is now expected to be held in mid-February.
The forum’s organization will be directed by a consultant, said Anderson, adding its location and theme have not been chosen yet.
Discussion topics encouraged by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), which provides funding for these forums, include reconciliation, emergency management, economic development and infrastructure planning.
“The main goal [of the forum] is to bring together elected officials and senior staff of local government and First Nation organizations to share what each organization is working on and to determine areas for collaboration,” Anderson said.
Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George agrees.
“We must work together as we have the same concerns for our people,”said George. “I think it is all about developing a good working relationship, just like the water treatment plant that we partnered to get it built.”
The village and Lake Babine Nation each made a financial contribution of $2,500 for forum expenses while the UBCM will provide $5,000 in funding.
The first Community to Community Forum, a province-wide event jointly organized by UBCM and the First Nations Summit, was held in 1997. The success of the event was “due to a spirit of goodwill and an open exchange of concerns, ideas, and constructive viewpoints,” according to UBCM.
Since then, nearly 630 forums have been held across B.C.