First Nations relations in ’12 promising, province says
The provincial government has made great strides in improving relations between itself, First Nations communities and industry in 2012, according to a press release from Dec. 28.
“As 2012 comes to a close, I take great pride in the progress we have made ... strengthening relationships with First Nations, while creating a climate where resource industries can flourish,” Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong said in the release.
The department reached over a dozen agreements with First Nations communities throughout the province over the year which mainly focus on resource-sharing and speeding up the approval and regulatory process for resource industries on treaty land. The agreements emphasize economic benefit for First Nations communities and stakes in resource development on indigenous territory.
The renewal of the strategic engagement agreement with the Nanwakolas group of First Nations is the latest of the 14 agreements included in the Jobs Plan. The Nanwakolas represents eight First Nations communities in northeastern Vancouver Island and along the coast. The agreement, which was signed in 2009, facilitates more efficient approvals and regulations for resource development, which the province expects to boost the area’s economy.
“Through our partnerships and agreements, Nanwakolas has been able to hire a dozen staff to work on the many permitting requests in that region, building capacity within the First Nations and producing certainty for industry,” Chong said in the release.
The government has also made agreements with the Fort Nelson First Nation on consultation and land use for oil and gas development; Kaska Dena First Nations, which outlines government-to-government processes in resource development on over 10 per cent of the province’s land; and the Nak’azdli Economic Community Development Agreement, which outlines revenue sharing with the Mount Milligan Mine. The mine resides in a sacred area.
The announcement comes in the midst of heavy scrutiny on the federal government by First Nations because of Omnibus Bill C-45, which is being criticized for failing to consult with First Nations groups over legislation that affects treaty land.