Communique to First Nations in BC: Section 4, Heritage Conservation Act - Pilot Project

November 1, 2012

From:  First Nations Leadership Council (BCAFN, FNS, UBCIC), and the First Nations representatives on the Joint Working Group on First Nations Heritage Conservation

Date:  November 1, 2012

Re:  Section 4, Heritage Conservation Act (HCA) – Pilot Project


In 2007, the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) and the Province of BC established the Joint Working Group on First Nations Heritage Conservation (JWGFNHC).   The purpose of the JWGFNHC is to identify First Nations’ heritage-related issues and concerns, develop options and make recommendations to:

  • Enable a meaningful role for First Nations in provincial heritage conservation;
  • Improve the provincial protection and conservation of First Nations burial sites, sacred sites and heritage sites in the spirit of the New Relationship and Transformative Change Accord.

One of the early priorities identified was the implementation of section 4 of the HCA which would provide for agreements between the Province and First Nations with respect to the conservation and protection of heritage sites and heritage objects that represent the cultural heritage of a respective First Nation.  Under this section, an agreement would provide for the delegation of ministerial authority for the protection of sites.  Section 4 agreements would provide effective recognition, respect, protection and conservation of First Nations cultural heritage resources that is currently not provided in the HCA and provincial system.

In 2011/12, a First Nations Heritage Action plan was endorsed by BC First Nations which called for the immediate implementation of section 4.  The JWGFNHC agreed to work towards a pilot project on a section 4 agreement.  It has recently become clear that the Province has been unwilling to place priority status on the advancement of the section 4 pilot project.  In fact, we would like to inform all BC First Nations that the Province will not be proceeding with a section 4 pilot project as agreed to by the JWGFNHC and supported by the FNLC.

Given the years of goodwill, relationship building and research into the development and drafting of this pilot proposal it is extremely unfortunate that the Province has refused to move forward on this project.  With this decision, the Province is now allowing for the continued desecration of First Nations heritage sites.  The Province has been very clear that it has no plan or solutions to deal with issues arising out of the HCA or protecting First Nations sacred/cultural sites.

The FNLC and the First Nations representatives on the JWGFNHC will be disengaging from this process and will be considering a strategy forward with respect to addressing First Nations heritage issues.  This strategy will be provided to First Nations Chiefs and leaders at upcoming meetings for review and consideration.

If you have any further questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact:
Maureen Grant, Policy Analyst
Union of BC Indian Chiefs


UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.