Burns Lake Band Chief Albert Gerow said he felt First Nation’s acknowledgement was noticeably absent during the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako’s (RDBN) 911 celebrations last week.
He said that while he is happy the area now has the valuable 911 service available, he said that he is disappointed there was not more of an acknowledgment of First Nations involvement in the process.
“It is disappointing for the six local area First Nations. We are paying through signed service agreements and are partners in the process and I feel they missed that recognition,” he said to Lakes District News.
He said that aside from receiving an invitation to attend the ‘911 Go Live celebrations’ to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Burns Lake Band, no further recognition was received. The celebration was held last week at the Island Gospel Church.
911 committee chair Stoney Stoltenberg said that from the beginning there was a great deal of involvement with the 13 First Nation groups in the RDBN regarding the 911 service.
He said the RDBN took great care to make sure that all local area First Nation communities were on board with the project.
He said the RDBN is the only regional district in the province to have all First Nation communities signed on for 911.
“We did invite Chief Gerow to speak to pay respect to the fact that we are on Burns Lake Band traditional territory. In my speech I mentioned that all 13 First Nation communities are signed on.”
Stoltenberg said that invitations were also sent out across the board.
“We were very careful not to leave anyone out and I apologize if someone was inadvertently left out.”
He added, “Staff did a really good job and I am proud of the fact that we have all 13 First Nation communities signed on. We have never played down the fact that First Nations are on board.”
Hans Berndorff, RDBN’s financial administrator said that to help cover the estimated $420,000 annual operating costs, Telus will charge a levy of 75 cents per month for each fixed phone line, the RDBN will tax property owners at an annual rate of approximately $8 for each $100,000 of property assessments on improvements only and the 13 First Nation communities, who represent about 11.5 per cent of RDBN’s total population will contribute approximately 11.5 per cent of the total annual operating costs through signed service agreements.
Berndorff said, “Each of the 13 First Nation communities will pay an annual fee based on their population. This is equivalent to the taxes that non First Nation property owners will pay for ongoing operations, after deducting the 68 cent portion of the 75 cents per month Telus 911 levy on fixed line phone bills. Telus keeps seven cents for administration and we receive 68 cents.”