B.C. Treaty Commission chairwoman Sophie Pierre was a lot more optimistic Wednesday in releasing her annual report than she was a year ago.
Last year, she addressed the lack of urgency in the moribund treaty process and said if there was no progress it was time to consider shutting it down.
But Wednesday, discussing a report entitled Learning from Our Success, she said people took her message seriously and there are encouraging signs of progress.
Weve seen a more concerted effort in last year. We have a long way to go, but were headed in the right direction.
The commission has been overseeing and shepherding dozens of sets of negotiations between the federal and provincial governments and B.C. First Nations for 20 years.
The billion-dollar-plus effort has produced two treaties so far. The lack of progress prompted a Senate report on the issue and the appointment of a special adviser to the federal minister responsible, who echoed the treaty commissions concerns.
In the past year, the Sliammon First Nation ratified a treaty after a bitter struggle. The Komoks First nation moved closer to a treaty, as did a few others.
Pierre last year put much of the blame for the delays on the federal government. But Wednesday, she credited federal departments for working better together.
The majority of the First Nations enrolled in the process are still years away from settling. Of the 60 bands, 23 are still in early stages and 20 are not negotiating.
Theres still not a whole lot of trust out there, Pierre said.
The report noted that the principals couldnt even agree to come together to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the process last month.
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