First Nations must be Full Partners in Natural Resource Development
For Immediate Release: July 25, 2012
FIRST NATIONS MUST BE FULL PARTNERS IN NATURAL RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
(Saskatoon, SK) During this week’s Premiers meetings in Nova Scotia, First Nation and Industry leaders will meet to discuss how First Nations can become full partners in natural resource development.
“This conversation we are going to have with the business leaders from the natural resource sector is long over-due,” says Vice-Chief Bobby Cameron. “Prior to this meeting the parties did not have any forum for this kind of discussion. We want to initiate a dialogue between the two parties so that both Industry and the First Nations may share the benefits and prosperity that comes from natural resource development.We want to impress upon Industry and government of the importance of providing opportunities for First Nation communities and individuals to become involved in partnerships in sustainable economic development activities. The legacy that we leave behind for future generations and our communities is one of self-sufficiency, prosperity and hope for a secure future.”
The Industry & First Nations Relations Forum will serve three purposes. First, there is a growing interest among First Nation leadership to form a strong and mutually beneficial working relationships with the natural resource sector in Saskatchewan. Holding the Forum is critical at a time when events in other regions of Canada have shown division between First Nations and Industry, as well as positive results. The Forum is to initiate a positive dialogue among those in attendance.
Secondly, the forum will provide an opportunity for the parties to begin to understand each other’s obligations with respect to the duty to consult and accommodate. Although the duty to consult and accommodate is a constitutional legal obligation owed to the First Nations by the federal and provincial governments, certain procedural aspects of the duty to consult and accommodate are often delegated to the natural resource developing proponent. It is this aspect of the duty upon which the parties must mutually agree.
Finally, the Forum will serve to open the doors to the greatest resource First Nations have to offer – a large, young and growing potential employee pool. The First Nations population is the fastest growing sector of Saskatchewan society. With investment by both parties, the natural resource sector can rely and depend on this employment pool, which has thus far been untapped by government and other business sectors.
This initiative reflects recommendations made by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, who in their report released on July 16, 2012, strongly urged governments to make aboriginal communities full partners in developing energy and mining projects. “Big business wants First Nations at the negotiating table.”
The Council recommended that “governments should help train a growing aboriginal workforce and develop new ways to support aboriginal communities so that they can participate vigorously in business initiatives and negotiations to share the wealth.”
To do otherwise, the Council acknowledges, is putting at risk “the viability of billions of dollars in natural resource investment.” The Council’s primary concern on speaking to this issue is “predictability of process”.
The Council also strongly recommended a government-designed process that has as its goal “transformative investment” that works as well for First Nations as it does for corporations. Government support is necessary to set up a framework that will ensure that all society benefits, rather than leaving the responsibility entirely with the corporate sector.
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of Treaty, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.
For more information:
Mervin Brass, Executive Director of Communications
Email BlackBerry: mervin.brass[at]fsin.com