Looking back at 2014, this has been a year of revitalizing partnerships between First Nations and the Province of British Columbia and focusing on reconciliation to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people.
Generally, Aboriginal people are not where they should be in terms of health, education, employment and engagement in the political and economic life of British Columbia. As a government, we have a moral and legal obligation to work with Aboriginal communities to close the gap on those economic and quality-of-life indicators.
Our efforts at reconciliation are guided by building partnerships with First Nations communities and opening the door to long-term economic and social growth. One of the strongest paths to partnership is through revenue sharing. B.C. is the first province in Canada to share provincial revenue from mining, forestry and other resources with First Nations and we now have well over 200 revenue-sharing agreements in place with First Nations throughout the province.
Revenue is flowing into First Nations’ lands, and members are launching businesses or finding jobs within their traditional territories, often related to forestry, milling, mining, fisheries and tourism.
This year, the province has also expanded partnerships with First Nations in terms of developing B.C.’s liquefied natural gas industry.
The Nisga’a Nation signed benefitsharing agreements with the province and TransCanada for the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) pipeline project, ensuring that the Nisga’a people will benefit from LNG development in B.C. In December, the Province and the Skin Tyee, Nee Tahi Buhn and the Wet’suwet’en First Nations signed pipeline benefits agreements for the proposed PRGT and the Coastal GasLink pipeline projects. More negotiations are underway with First Nations along proposed pipeline routes and additional benefits agreements are expected in 2015.