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B.C. at "strike two" says aboriginal leader as reconciliation talks begin

VANCOUVER — The chasm separating British Columbia's political and aboriginal leaders could not have been defined more clearly as the second annual all-chiefs meeting got underway in Vancouver.

B.C.'s Minister for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, John Rustad, opened the two day gathering by calling advances over the past decade "remarkable."

Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip responded that when it comes to reconciliation, B.C. is at "strike two."

Phillip says there is a growing anger at the slow pace of change and called for an end to what he termed an antiquated, constipated mindset.

Chiefs and politicians, including Premier Christy Clark, meet this week to discuss steps forward after last year's Supreme Court of Canada decision granting the Tsilhqot'in First Nation aboriginal title to more than 1,700 square kilometres of land.

Phillip says all involved must have the courage to move forward, build consensus and silence those who predict Armageddon if First Nations are given an equal voice in building and sharing B.C.'s economic future.

The Canadian Press

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