Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks on the reconciliation framework agreement in Prince Rupert
Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day to everyone here and everyone watching from coast to coast to coast.
I have to thank First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners for working with us over the past few years to make meaningful progress on our shared journey towards reconciliation. The road is long, but rest assured we can and will walk it together. And on that note, today is a very big day for both reconciliation and environmental protection in Canada.
Today we celebrate Canada’s first ever Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection, which involves 14 First Nations along the Pacific coast. This is an important commitment for regional partnership in the task of ocean management. But before I get into the details, let’s talk a bit about how we got here. It was in November 2016 that I announced a major government initiative that will serve the people of Canada for generations, a plan to safeguard the natural beauty of our great country. I’m talking of course about the Oceans Protection Plan, a $1.5 billion investment in ocean conservation, responsible shipping, and marine safety. Providing jobs for people today while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come, the Oceans Protection Plan is truly world-leading.
Barely two weeks ago, the other G7 leaders and I agreed to ensure our oceans are safe, clean and healthy. Through the Charlevoix Blueprint for Health Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities, Canada has adopted marine spatial planning processes in order to offer greater certainty to ocean-related industry while protecting the ecosystems of our oceans and communities. And we will continue to follow through on our commitment to establish marine protected areas by combining the best scientific data in the world with the vast knowledge of Indigenous peoples.
My friends, when we announced our Oceans Protection Plan a year-and-a-half ago we envisioned Indigenous peoples participating as trusted partners and guides in managing Canada’s oceans. And as we implement the Oceans Protection Plan and the ocean blueprint commitments, I know we could not have better partners than the people gathered here today. The First Nations of this region have long been leaders in defining what collaborative management looks like in protected areas and in working landscapes on land and at sea.
Today is an important next step in our stewardship journey. After much hard work and excellent dialogue I’m happy to be here to celebrate the Reconciliation Framework Agreement on Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection. With 14 First Nations, the framework agreement outlines how we’ll engage on a nation-to-nation basis going forward as we develop the policies and practices that will guide us in managing these waters which span about two-thirds of the BC coast.
Together, we’ll coordinate efforts on marine spatial planning and develop a network of marine protected areas. Our work will improve waterway management, increase emergency preparedness and boost the response capacity of local First Nations. A blueprint for the future, this agreement will help us ensure that consultation, planning and decision-making is collaborative in nature and clear in process.
Together, we’ll protect and preserve the Pacific north coast, and along the way, we’ll advance reconciliation. Our government takes our environmental responsibilities seriously. Whether in terms of putting a price on carbon pollution, protecting populations of endangered marine mammals or ensuring permanent protection of the largest expanses of coastal (inaudible), we understand that Canada must lead the way.
We also understand the ocean represents not only an economic engine for First Nations, but indeed a way of life. The species that live here in one of the most ecologically significant regions in the world must be protected. The orca must be safeguarded. Salmon populations must be allowed to flourish. We have work to do here, work that cannot be ignored. These animals are integral to the culture and well-being of the families and workers who call this region home. The First Nations of the Pacific north coast have been protecting Canada’s waters for millennia. And that’s why our shared success in the fight to protect our ocean hinges on us all working together. The Reconciliation Framework Agreement will help us deliver on the promise of collaborative ocean management for the benefit of all Canadians.
And I’m especially pleased to note that we were able to come together to celebrate on National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day that matters to each and every Canadian citizen as we walk the long path of reconciliation together. What we have demonstrated here today is that we understand that the best way to protect our coasts, our natural world for generations to come is to do it hand-in-hand with people who have been protecting these coasts for millennia; that environmental protection, economic development and reconciliation need to be fundamentally linked. And today we take a massive step forward in doing just that in true partnership with first peoples.