Agreement signed on Aboriginal Day

Three First Nations bands who have waited several years to sign a protocol agreement with the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen, finally had cause to celebrate on Friday.

At a ceremony at the Penticton Art Gallery, on National Aboriginal Day, the long-awaited signing took place.

"I am just very happy," said Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger. "Ever since I've been elected and then re-elected I've always wanted to have this protocol signed between the regional district and the southern bands. We are finally working together, which is good for all of us."

Also in attendance were members of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band, several RDOS staff and board members, city council members and other dignitaries.

The three bands have all signed the agreement, but it was never signed by the RDOS. The regional board agreed April 4 to enter into the agreement with the bands.

The agreement establishes a working relationship that respects the governance structure of each organization and a framework for future agreements on social, economic and environmental goals.

The signing follows a Community to Community Forum  organized by the regional district in March at the NK'MIP Resort near Osoyoos. At the meeting, the agenda was replaced with discussion on the protocol agreement.

Lower Similkameen Indian Band Chief Robert Edward said it opens up a dialogue between the bands and the regional district, were they can discuss items that impact  title and rights.

RDOS acting board chairman Mark Pendergraft said he was glad to see the matter that has  been discussed and talked about for years come to fruition.

"We look forward to a good working relationship with our local bands," he said.

Proceedings Friday also included drumming and an opening prayer.



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