Columbia River Treaty negotiations entered their seventh round last week in Washington, D.C. as First Nations representatives were present for the first time, including the local Ktunaxa Nation.
Katrine Conroy, B.C. Minister for the Columbia River Treaty said the round of negotiations June 19th and 20th were historic.
"Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations had already been collaborating with the governments of British Columbia and Canada on negotiation positions and strategies; but this week, they were present in the negotiating room and participated in breakout discussions with Canada and B.C. during negotiations."
"This is a very significant step forward - not just in terms of the Columbia River Treaty, but also in supporting our government's commitment to reconciliation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Following the seventh round of negotiations, the observer team representing the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations issued a joint statement.
"While a great deal of work remains to be done, we are very pleased with what we have observed and participated in to date," began the statement.
"This precedent-setting role as observers builds on and enhances our important work with Canada and B.C. over the last two years. We are confident that we can continue to contribute positively to these negotiations and help realize the First Nations' goals for meaningful outcomes from these negotiations that are of critical importance to our nations and homelands."
Conroy said that American and Canadian delegations took stock of the progress they've made on the Columbia River Treaty since the modernization process started in May 2018.
Conroy added that Washington's discussions were primarily focused on flood-risk management, power, and adaptive management.
Their eighth round of negotiations will be held back in the Columbia Basin as Canadian and American delegates will converge in Cranbrook on September 10 and 11, 2019.