Province Invests in First Nations Economic Development Strategy

September 16, 2016

BC – 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,” says said BCAFN Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson.

“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.”

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.

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