Being sworn into the NDP cabinet as the minister of indigenous relations and reconciliation was surreal for Scott Fraser, Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA, who’s been waiting for a seat in government for 12 years.
“It was the most incredible day of my life in many ways,” Fraser said. “I’ve never experienced something like that before, it was moving. I had tears more than once as John Horgan got sworn in as the premier of British Columbia.”
In his new role as minister, Fraser said the plan is to adopt the UN Declaration of the rights of Indigenous peoples and address the calls to action for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“We’re going to make a relationship that’s not mired in conflict but moving together forward with First Nations in accordance with case law, court decisions and that’s going to help the whole province…it’s an exciting time,” he said.
Fraser said he’s looking forward to working with premier John Horgan and his diverse cabinet.
“He’s a buddy of mine and he’s the coolest premier that I’ve ever seen in any place in Canada and he cares about people,” Fraser said.
Issues Horgan and the cabinet will be working on with an NDP government include a focus on health care, education, sustainable jobs and more resources for wildfire relief and emergency response.
“We’re now running a government that’s going to work for people again. Not just the people at the top, but the people of British Columbia are going to get represented,” Fraser said. “We’re going to fix the mess of 16 years left behind and we’re committed to dealing with the key issues in our platform.”
The NDP cabinet is made up of 23 ministers and 6 parliamentary secretaries, held by 15 women and 14 men.
“It’s wonderful we have gender equity, that’s never happened before anywhere, not in Canada,” Fraser said. “We’ve got a great crew of people. Some have been around for quite a while like I have and others that are new. I think John has just nailed it with this current cabinet and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.”
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Ken Watts said he thinks Fraser is the perfect fit for his new position as minister of indigenous of relations and reconciliation.
“I think for a decade he’s been the critic for aboriginal relations and reconciliation,” Watts said. “Other First Nations around B.C. really respect Scott.”
Watts said after meeting with Fraser last week, he told the new minister that action is needed.
“Not just First Nations but British Columbians are looking for action at this point. There’s a lot that can be said and commitments that can be made, but I think what people are looking for is action,” Watts said.