September 28, 2021 – (Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George & Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories/Vancouver, B.C.) - The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC) leadership have renewed their landmark five-year partnership to continue advancing meaningful economic reconciliation and self-determination for First Nations peoples living in British Columbia.
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a direct response to call to action 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report. Through this relationship, the BCBC is working to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework, and to build more meaningful relationships between Indigenous peoples and the business community. Through this MOU, the BCBC and its members are committing themselves to doing their part to facilitate the long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects for First Nations communities in B.C.
The two organizations share the same goals: for First Nations peoples to be full participants in the economic future of the province, and to close the social and economic gaps between First Nations and non-First Nations people living in British Columbia.
The BCAFN and the BCBC will continue to support the aspirations of First Nations in B.C. through the implementation of the BCAFN First Nations economic development strategy. The partnership continues to co-develop and advance an agenda that supports the delivery of shared prosperity in B.C. while also supporting greater clarity for all partners looking to invest in the province.
The first MOU was signed in 2016 to formalize the collaborative relationship between the BCAFN and the BCBC. Since that time, the partnership has established programs and activities, some of which include:
- The Champions Table: A roundtable of Chiefs and CEOs who come together to build relationships and mutual understanding, and to advance meaningful dialogue on economic reconciliation and shared decision-making processes. Relationships established at this table have resulted in several project partnerships in First Nations territories.
- The Indigenous Intern Leaders: Delivered in partnership with Vancouver Island University, and with the support of the Province of British Columbia, the Indigenous Intern Leaders program has placed 80 Indigenous youth into two-year paid internship programs at companies and organizations across the province. The program builds personal and corporate capacity, shared understanding and enduring networks and partnerships.
- In 2018, members of the Champions Table gave a joint presentation to members of the B.C. cabinet on the need for government to support Indigenous capacity building and enable stronger collaboration directly between First Nations and business.
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Working together to support government in its adoption of UNDRIP as a reconciliation framework, and apply action 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on the roles and responsibilities of corporations.
Looking ahead, the renewed MOU will continue these important initiatives, and will also look to establish a Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Economic Development. The MOU also commits the partners to developing a set of guiding principles for mutually beneficial economic reconciliation between First Nations and B.C. businesses.
“Our relationship with the Business Council is a great example of taking the lead on reconciliation,” said B.C. Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “First Nations economic development is central to self-determination, and I am glad to be celebrating a renewed relationship with the Business Council of B.C.. Together we can continue to build First Nations economies across the province.”
“While progress has been made in recent years, Indigenous people continue to face real and significant social and economic inequities. The Business Council is committed to this collaborative and constructive relationship with our BCAFN partners which has resulted in meaningful action for both the benefit of First Nations in B.C., but also contributes to greater clarity and certainty for the province’s business community.” Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of B.C.
About the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is a Provincial Territorial Organization (PTO) representing and advocating for the 204 First Nations in British Columbia. BCAFN representation and advocacy is inclusive and extends to First Nations currently engaged in the treaty process, those who have signed modern treaties, and those who fall under historic treaty agreements which include the Douglas Treaties and Treaty 8. The BCAFN also represents and advocates for First Nations in BC that are not in treaty negotiations.
About the Business Council of British Columbia
Now in its 56th year as the premier business organization in British Columbia, the Business Council of B.C. is a non-partisan organization made up of over 200 leading companies, post-secondary institutions and industry associations from across B.C.'s diversified economy. The Council produces exceptional public policy research and advocacy in support of creating a competitive, productive economy for the benefit of all British Columbians.
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Annette Schroeter, Communications Officer, BCAFN
Business Council of British Columbia