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Province, Nanwakolas Finalize Clearinghouse Plans

by NationTalk on May 9, 20071398 Views

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2007AL0017-000583
May 8, 2007

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts

VICTORIA – The Province is contributing $225,000 to the Nanwakolas Council to create a pilot project that will streamline First Nations referrals and consultation related to natural resource applications in their territories, Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell announced today.“For anyone who is familiar with the FrontCounter BC concept of single-window access to natural resource authorizations, this is the First Nations equivalent,” said Bell. “I’d like to thank the First Nations Chiefs of the Nanwakolas Council for their leadership and vision in making this innovative pilot project a reality.”

The Nanwakolas “clearinghouse” will act as a single window for First Nations referrals related to natural resource applications in the Nanwakolas Council’s territories. Input from the appropriate First Nations will be collected, consolidated and provided to the Province. The clearinghouse gives the Council the staff and funding capacity they need in order to respond to queries in a timely fashion.

“This pilot project is going to help fill capacity gaps in our communities,” said Nanwakolas President Council Dallas Smith. “This project will help identify First Nation concerns with development and will build certainty as we collectively revitalize the economy on the coast.”

Resource agencies annually send hundreds of application referral letters for use of Crown land and resources to members of the Nanwakolas Council. The applications often need to be reviewed by three to four different member First Nations.

“Our commitment to a New Relationship with First Nations includes taking practical steps to close the gaps that separate them from other British Columbians,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Michael de Jong. “This project shows how the Province and Aboriginal communities can find innovative ways to create opportunities for a better future.”

The Nanwakolas Council and the Province celebrated today’s historic achievement with a signing ceremony that included First Nations singing and dancing. The project will help to pilot a new business model for agency referrals and responses.

“One day, we will look back at the Nanwakolas Clearinghouse as a trailblazing pilot program that really changed the way B.C. and First Nations work together,” said Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Stan Hagen. “There are so many innovative developments happening with First Nations, particularly involving adventure tourism.”

The Nanwakolas Clearinghouse is a key deliverable of the Coast Land Use Decision. On Feb. 7, 2006, the Province, First Nations, conservationists, industry groups and local communities announced their agreement on land use decisions for the Central Coast and North Coast of B.C., including the home of the Province’s official mammal symbol, the Spirit Bear. The Coast Land Use Decision area is approximately 6.4 million hectares, or more than twice the size of Belgium.

“In the months and years ahead, we will continue to work hard with our First Nation partners, local communities, and stakeholder groups,” said Environment Minister Barry Penner. “Our new vision for coastal B.C. is unique in the world and we have received the attention and support of many members of the international community.”

The Nanwakolas Council represents members from the Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em, Tlowitsis, Da’naxda’xw Awaetlatla, Gwa’Sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Kwiakah, and Comox First Nations who have come together on a regional basis to participate collectively on various land and resource management and planning issues, including participating in development and implementation of the Coast Land Use Decision.

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Media contact:

Jessica Woodburn
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
250 356-1674
250 812-8368 (cell)

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