Improving economic outcomes and business development opportunities in First Nations communities is at the heart of a provincial partnership with the B.C. Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN).
The Province is providing up to $2.5 million over three years to support the continued development of the First Nations Sustainable Economic Development Strategy by the BCAFN. The strategy will build from discussions this past spring at regional economic development sessions BCAFN held at First Nations communities throughout the province, and will continue with a second phase of regional economic development sessions this fall.
“Improving the quality of life of First Nations people and ensuring they see the benefits from Canada’s strongest economy is reconciliation in action,” said Premier Christy Clark. “Some First Nations are seeing considerable economic successes. Where they are not, the support of the Province and organizations like the BCAFN can help create economic opportunities that will close the gaps we see with income and prosperity.”
Provincial funding will support a variety of initiatives within the strategy to advance sustainable economic reconciliation with First Nations and provide tangible results for people within those communities.
Initiatives include establishing a roundtable of First Nations economic champions from all regions of the province to provide economic advice to the BCAFN and First Nations communities; improving the quality of employment data for on-reserve communities; development of “black books” to help guide sustainable economic development projects in First Nations communities, and engaging with all levels of government and industry associations on employment, mentorship and economic planning programs.
The strategy aims to ensure First Nations have the opportunities and resources to engage in economic development projects in their respective traditional territories, and that they see improved employment, training and benefits.
“The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations continues to work with First Nations to develop our sustainable economic development and fiscal relations strategy, however, in order to advance reconciliation, we must continue to build bridges —as demonstrated today with our new memorandum of understanding with the B.C. Business Council. It’s not my role to administer this strategy, but to help communicate, educate, and advocate for our First Nations to develop as they see fit. We must work together to ensure more positive, constructive, and meaningful relationships with government and industry, and in turn, we must work together as First Nations Governments to address the poverty in our communities that has sadly become commonplace. It is time for us to start managing wealth rather than administering poverty,” said BCAFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson.
“This is an exciting B.C. Assembly of First Nations’ project to support, one that can make a real difference in increasing capacity and helping First Nations take advantage of a growing economy. Reconciliation and economic partnerships with First Nations are vital to our shared prosperity — when First Nations succeed, their neighbouring communities succeed,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
BCAFN’s economic development strategy supports the BC Jobs Plan, which has a goal of increasing the participation of First Nations in the economy; and the B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint which has an overall goal of adding 15,000 more Aboriginal workers to the provincial workforce within 10 years.
“Creating employment and new economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities is a top priority of this government. Our partnership with the BCAFN is an important milestone in our effort to improve business opportunities and skills training in Aboriginal communities throughout B.C.,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
- In spring 2016, the B.C. Assembly of First Nations held regional economic development workshops in Prince George, Chilliwack, Enderby, Parksville and North Vancouver.
- First Nations provided feedback and advice on regional economic development and fiscal relations. BCAFN plans to undertake a second around of regional workshops in fall 2016.
- Through the BC Jobs Plan, B.C. is working to create employment and new economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities and help businesses work with Aboriginal people in developing projects in First Nations traditional territory.
- First Nations in B.C. own more than 1,200 businesses across a range of sectors.
- As part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, B.C. is investing up to $30 million over three years to support Aboriginal skills training projects and partnerships.
- During its first year of operation, more than 1,000 Aboriginal people have been trained through programs funded by the Aboriginal Skills Training Development Fund.
MOU between the BCAFN and the B.C. Business Council: bcbc.com/news-releases
B.C. Assembly of First Nations: bcafn.ca
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: workbc.ca/skills
BC Jobs Plan: engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan
Aboriginal Business and Investment Council: bcabic.ca
Stephen SmartPress Secretary
Office of the Premier
Regional Chief Shane GottfriedsonB.C. Assembly of First Nations
Edward HillMinistry of Aboriginal Relations