What we heard: Summary of May 2nd presentations
This document was developed by the First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC) and First Nations Forestry Council (FNFC) of British Columbia.
The Regional Energy and Resource Table (RERT) in British Columbia (BC) was launched in June 2022 by the Government of Canada and the Province of BC. The BC table is one of the first provincial and territorial tables to be initiated. Over summer 2022, Natural Resources Canada and the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation staff identified several “priority work areas” to be considered in their efforts to address climate change and grow sustainable economic opportunities. Those priority work areas include, critical minerals, clean fuels/hydrogen, electrification, carbon capture and storage, and the forest sector.
Integrating the perspectives of First Nations peoples and advancing economic reconciliation has been identified by Canada and BC as an integral component to the RERT process. In December of 2022 the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council and the BC First Nations Forestry Council were invited to participate in RERT to enhance connections with First Nations leaders and communities in the province. On May 2nd, 2023, a Province wide workshop was held to dialogue with First Nations representatives on the identified “priority work areas”. Over 70 First Nations representatives registered for the event which was held over the duration of five hours. While several themes emerged an overwhelming amount of feedback raised the importance of both government’s legislated commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UN Declaration”).
Summary of feedback
In BC, we must establish a government-to-government process that calls for all negotiations to be conducted in alignment with the UN Declaration and this must include but not be limited to:
- implementation of free prior and informed consent
- joint decision making and planning
- joint permitting for resource development
- establishing land use planning processes
- negotiating Indigenous Protected Conservation Areas
- establishing Guardian programs
- achieving equitable revenue sharing agreements with public governments
- negotiating profit sharing agreements with Industry
- compensation for First Nations for all lands that have been alienated as a result of the free entry process and other major resource development activity
- focus on Indigenous food sovereignty
Responses indicated that First Nations governments must be full and equal participants in the conduct of environmental assessments and impact assessments, and in all regulatory bodies that are established to review major resource development. Additional engagement has been committed to by both the federal and provincial governments.
“There is no monopoly on creativity. Despite these difficult times, I continue to believe that with the political will and well-placed investment we can spark innovations that will help transition our country and Indigenous Nations to a low carbon future providing good paying jobs and advancing environmental justice for our citizens and the planet.”
“If we are to meet the goals of climate change that Canada has pledged for 2030, to get 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it will take all of us to work together, to find solutions and to invest.”
“…it’s essential from an economic reconciliation perspective, communities where projects are taking place in their traditional territories need to see long term sustainable benefits flowing from these kinds of projects, not simply five jobs and two procurement contracts.”
“… this early work is simply a starting point for the conversation on how to seize this moment and make BC a world economic leader in low carbon development.”
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