For Immediate Release
Dec. 28, 2011
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Making Progress: Aboriginal
Engaging First Nations creates jobs, secures investment
VICTORIA – B.C. has reached successful agreements with First Nations that deliver specific, practical benefits for communities, companies and the province by shortening project timelines, facilitating faster permits for projects, and creating new jobs, partnerships and training programs.
These are just a few examples of significant progress made by government in the last year to improve the lives of British Columbians and their families by creating and protecting jobs, by becoming more open and transparent, and by continuing to be fiscally responsible in these uncertain economic times.
British Columbia has a unique government-to-government relationship with First Nations. The Province recently announced the new Aboriginal Business and Investment Council, chaired by Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross. The council will work with Aboriginal communities and the private sector to foster economic participation, development and investment in Aboriginal communities.
The Province also signed a Land and Resource Management and Shared Decision-Making Agreement with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation this year, creating 13 new protected areas, providing resource development opportunities and investment certainty for more than three million hectares in northwestern B.C. The Taku River Tlingit have already begun to work
co-operatively with mining developers in the area and future resource extraction projects are expected to support around 350 jobs during construction and 280 operations jobs.
British Columbia is also working with the Haisla and other First Nations to develop the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) sector. The Kitimat LNG facility in northern B.C. is attracting investment, and creating jobs and business opportunities.
Since taking effect in 2009, the Tsawwassen treaty has enabled the First Nation to sit on Metro Vancouver and initiate a multi-million dollar infrastructure project that will result in about 167,225 square metres (1.8 million square feet) of shopping, office and entertainment space. The Tsawwassen treaty is the first modern-day treaty achieved under the B.C. Treaty Commission process.
These agreements and investments propel First Nations into fuller economic participation, provide jobs and new partnerships, and demonstrate the Province’s commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal people are an integral part of B.C.’s economic future.
Minister Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –
“B.C. has a number of flexible tools for reaching agreements with First Nations that increase investor confidence and reduce conflict, creating jobs and opportunities for all British Columbians. Among the highlights of the past year was seeing firsthand how the agreements we negotiate with First Nations are impacting communities. Visiting sites in the Taku River watershed with members of the Taku River Tlingit was an incredible experience. I was also honoured to speak in the Tsawwassen First Nation legislature to mark the second anniversary of the implementation of their treaty.”
Chief Kim Baird, Tsawwassen First Nation –
“As we move forward with building a sustainable future in these first years after treaty, British Columbia continues to fulfil the commitment they made to be a partner in a new relationship with Tsawwassen First Nation. Over the past year, they have continued to support our efforts to create employment for our members and grow and diversify our economy. I truly believe that British Columbia recognizes the opportunities that strong and healthy First Nations offer to all British Columbians.”
Spokesperson John Ward, Taku River Tlingit First Nation –
“Implementation of our government-to-government agreement with the Province will be as challenging as negotiating it, but it’s important to say that this agreement is the beginning of a new way of doing business, a new beginning for the relationship between our two governments. It represents a firmly held commitment by all parties – industry, B.C., the community of Atlin and the Taku River Tlingit – to build a brighter future for the region as a whole.”
· The Province recently appointed an Aboriginal Business and Investment Council Chair to work with Aboriginal business leaders and help Aboriginal businesses attract sustainable investment, foster economic development and support job creation.
· The clean energy industry reports more than 125 B.C. First Nations are engaged in clean energy projects. Through the $5-million First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund, the Province has supported this sector of the economy by investing $1.36 million to date in 30 Aboriginal communities across B.C. to support participation in clean and renewable energy opportunities.
· Aboriginal youth are the fastest-growing demographic in the province, making Aboriginal people the future of B.C.’s workforce.
· The Province has committed to reaching ten new agreements with First Nations by 2015 that will increase economic certainty and provide opportunities for First Nations to participate in and benefit from economic activities.
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation homepage: www.gov.bc.ca/arr/
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
250 361 7720
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect