Vancouver, BC (September 6, 2016) British Columbia’s business and First Nations leadership have signed a landmark agreement to ensure all BC residents share in the prosperity generated by sustainable economic development. The Memorandum of Understanding between the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) will bring greater certainty for business to invest and operate and, of utmost importance, opportunity for First Nations to be full participants in the economic future of the province. It is believed to be the first agreement of its kind between a broad business organization and a provincial First Nations organization.
“I have seen first-hand the benefits of sustainable economic development within our communities and nations. This MOU with the BC Business Council represents the mutual desire of BCAFN and BCBC to work towards economic reconciliation across BC. First Nations seek sustainable economic development founded upon reconciliation and First Nations deserve not only a say, but we deserve to be partners in moving forward with economic development in this province,” stated BC Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson. “Working with BCBC we have found common pathways in supporting First Nations in their prosperity and growth.”
The MOU provides a solid foundation to enhance relationships through the creation of a ‘Champions’ Table’—where First Nation Chiefs and business CEOs will meet formally to explore opportunities, identify barriers and discuss policy approaches for increased clarity, decision making and capacity for both parties. This initiative will allow the parties to work jointly to advance a more effective approach to accelerating economic development and reconciliation. Foundational is the opportunity for business and First Nation to eliminate the gaps First Nations people face with regard to education, health and social supports. Economic development and a growing economy provide the means to address the issues that stand in the way of reconciliation.
“Responsible and cooperative economic development has enormous capacity to support families and strengthen communities,” said Marcia Smith, Chair of the Business Council of British Columbia. “This agreement will help to strengthen certainty for investors and foster economic reconciliation, opportunity and shared prosperity for First Nations across the province through skills training, employment and business ownership.”
The MOU builds on a growing list of economic development agreements between BC First Nations and business. Since 1988, 498 agreements have been signed by 179 communities related to projects worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
The B.C. Aboriginal Business and Investment Council (ABIC) has created a website showcasing more than 1,200 First Nation businesses, potential partners and success stories including:
- Tahltan Central Council and AltaGas Ltd. Northwest Projects Three run-of-river hydroelectric projects that will general 277 megawatts of clean electricity for approximately 95,000 homes in British Columbia.
- Ktunaxa Nation Council and Teck Resources Ltd. A long term agreement to provide economic opportunities at five steelmaking coal operations while protecting the environment as well as Ktunaxa culture and language.
- K’ómoks First Nation and Britco A long-term revenue sharing joint venture to build modular buildings for the Vancouver Island market.
“We all understand that economic reconciliation with our First Nation partners, anchored in relationships built on trust, transparency and mutual respect is essential along the path to a prosperous future in British Columbia,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council.
“With this MOU, we will move towards creating open and ongoing dialogue between First Nation leaders and business leaders to create greater understanding, awareness, capacity and clarity around decision-making, and relationships. I look forward to continuing this important collaborative work with BCBC and the many First Nation and business leaders in BC,” concluded Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson.
Download: Memorandum of Understanding [PDF]
About the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is a Provincial Territorial Organization (PTO) representing the 203 First Nations in British Columbia. The BCAFN is one of the ten regional organizations affiliated with the national Assembly of First Nations whose members include all 603 First Nations across Canada. The purposes of the BCAFN are to: (a) advance the rights and interests of First Nations people in British Columbia; (b) restore and enhance the relationship among First Nations people in British Columbia, the Crown and people of Canada; (c) develop and promote policies and resources for the benefit of First Nations people in British Columbia including but not limited to governance, lands and resources, economic, social, education, health and cultural matters; and (d) work in coalition with other organizations that advance the rights and interests of iindigenous peoples.
The Regional Chief provides the political leadership and is elected to this role by the BC First Nations Chiefs for a term of three years. BCAFN is further governed by a Board of five directors, elected to three-year staggered terms. Each board member is a Chief or designate for their First Nation community. BCAFN hosts a Special Chiefs Assembly and an Annual General Assembly every spring and fall which allow for BC First Nations leadership to engage in open socio-political discussions in order to provide community-driven directives to the Regional Chief through resolution.
About the Business Council of British Columbia
Celebrating its 50th year as the preeminent business organization in the province, the Council has a strong history of providing relevant public policy research and advice on issues to enhance BC’s competitiveness. Since its inception with founding Chair, JE Richardson, then CEO of BC Telephone Company, the Council has been fortunate to have as members major employers from across all sectors in BC’s economy who have played meaningful roles in building British Columbia.
Today, the Council is a source for insight on the BC and Canadian economies and how international trends and domestic policies are impacting our ability to compete in a global economy. Priority areas of focus include: environmental sustainability policies, economic reconciliation with First Nations, innovation, building a competitive tax and regulatory regime, supporting trade and market access, and the development and the attraction of a deep and diverse talent pool.