First Nations want what any society wants
VANCOUVER, BC, May. 14, 2013/ Troy Media/ – If it bleeds, it leads. This old media maxim, that it is always the bad news that makes the headlines, is certainly re-enforced with respect to First Nations and the economy in British Columbia.
First Nation Threatens to Shut Down Mine headlines a story about the Wet’suwet’en First Nation (FN) and the Huckleberry copper/molybdenum mine in northern B.C. Any environmental concerns expressed by FN with respect to any project is framed to give the impression that all FN’s are vehemently opposed to any and all economic development.
Douglas Bland, in a report put out by the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, a think tank, goes even further than seeing FN’s as a hindrance to economic activity. Bland, a retired professor from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario talks about “catastrophic confrontation” and violence between the “settler” community and Aboriginals. He quotes the usual numbers about low education and high unemployment among First Nations and sees the Idle No More events of last year as the thin edge of the wedge to a horrific future for Canada.
Fortunately, Bland’s is not the only outlook on prospects for Canada’s First Nations and the rest of the country offered by the MacDonald-Laurier think tank. They also released a study by Ken Coates and Brian Lee Crowley (READ: Growing Aboriginal power a good news story) which reached very different conclusions. According to Coates and Crowley, First Nations, especially First Nations in B.C. are in a “sweet spot”. Treaty agreements and settlements in courts, including the Supreme Court, have put FN’s in an excellent position to take advantage of the development of resources and infrastructure that will also benefit all Canadians.
Which of these two views is more likely to be right? The evidence, when you dig to get it, points to the more cheerful prospect even if that evidence is not always given the prominence it deserves.
If we look closely at all the bad numbers that have been true for FN’s in the past – education levels, incomes, unemployment, etc. – we see they are now improving, especially for the younger generations. We also see much economic activity.
The list of projects and communities below is by no means complete. It is just to provide some positive examples of successful First Nation economic activity that is generating jobs and income for them and usually additional economic benefits for non-Aboriginal companies and organizations.
The Kitsumkalum FN, using their wholly-owned Kalum Ventures Limited, is engaged in several forestry related activities, hydro development and recreation.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.troymedia.com/2013/05/14/a-partial-list-of-successful-first-nation-economic-activity/