OTTAWA, Feb. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today congratulated First Nations in British Columbia for their role in achieving the Great Bear Rain Forest Agreement, a major agreement amongst the provincial government, environmental organizations, industry and 26 First Nations that prohibits logging in 85% per cent of forested lands.
"This agreement has been a long time coming and I congratulate the First Nations involved for their dedication and determination," said National Chief Bellegarde. "First Nations must be central in any agreements or activities that affect our lands and our lives. We have rights that must be respected, as well as responsibilities to our traditional territories. This agreement shows what is possible when First Nations are respected as full partners."
"This agreement between the Heiltsuk Nation, Province of BC, ENGOS, industry and other stakeholders is an important step towards exercising jurisdiction and self-determination," stated BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson. "Furthermore, this Land Use Order represents stewardship, visioning, and protection for the sacred lands by creating partnerships and understanding that we must work collaboratively to ensure that Heiltsuk homelands are protected under Heiltsuk values. On behalf of BC First Nations, I congratulate Chief Slett and her council in reaching this significant agreement."
The Great Bear Rainforest is a globally unique area covering 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia's north and central coast. Under the agreement announced February 1, 85% of the forested land base will be protected from logging. Among other provisions, the land-use order addresses First Nations cultural heritage resources, freshwater ecosystems and wildlife habitat.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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