Business, Indigenous, And Community Leaders Call For A Return To Order

March 5, 2020

The Free Movement Of Goods And People, And A Commitment To Certainty And Future Prosperity

A growing chorus of business, Indigenous and community leaders are calling for a commitment to certainty and future prosperity following weeks of economic disruption.
Rail blockades and challenges with respect to numerous significant infrastructure projects representing billions of dollars of investment are symptoms of very serious problems requiring urgent action.

Blockades have caused havoc and uncertainty in people’s lives, relationships and supply chains and have negatively affected a quarter of Canada’s small business owners.
More broadly, uncertainty about the timeliness of decision making around major projects and whether decisions, once made, count for anything has become a serious problem. Billions of dollars that could have supported well-paying jobs, reconciliation for all Canadians, and the means to improve Indigenous and non-Indigenous health care, education and other important social goals have been sacrificed.

Compromise and common purpose are key to the functioning of democracy. We must continue to build an inclusive economy and society for all Canadians—and cannot allow a handful of uncompromising minority voices to undermine this collective progress.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders have had considerable success working toward economic reconciliation. Events of the past few weeks clearly demonstrates that more needs to be done.

Now is the time for all Canadians to stand together to build a modern, competitive, sustainable country – one which continues economic reconciliation with Indigenous people; one which balances economic growth with environmental protection by providing a practical, realistic and achievable regulatory framework; and, one which promotes an inclusive and prosperous society based on respect for all Canadians.

Chris Atchison, President of the BC Construction Association

“It’s encouraging that the government and Wet’suwet’en leaders were able to agree on a promising new protocol for future projects, but this doesn’t resolve the disputes that are happening now and central to the blockades and disruption we’re seeing across Canada.  We must respect Indigenous rights and at the same time allow our skilled tradespeople safe access to build the projects which have been legally approved and which they have been hired to build. Infrastructure projects are key to our federal and provincial economies and their success depends on meaningful and timely collaboration and respect between industry, government and Indigenous elected and hereditary leaders. We all need to get much better at this,” said Chris Atchison, President of the BC Construction Association.

This must begin with strong leadership by federal and provincial authorities to restore order without further delay. It continues with a strong focus on the foundations required of a modern economy, including ensuring clear pathways for projects to get to timely decisions that can be respected.

Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce

“The people with the most to lose in this moment are average, hard-working Canadians. We’re going to create a platform to amplify these voices and prove to ourselves, as a nation, that Indigenous prosperity, economic sustainability and a healthy environment can be achieved. Indeed, Canada can and will do it better than anyone else,” said Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

“First Nations across the country are building relationships and partnerships that are bringing us back into control of our own destiny, these relationships are giving us a foundation to protect what is important and build sustainable economies that will increase human well-being and opportunity in our communities. The shutting down of vital infrastructure is only setting the cause back and making a better tomorrow that much farther out of grasp,” said Dallas Smith, President of Nanwakolas Council.


“We ask the Federal and Provincial authorities to implement fair, meaningful Government to Government working relationships with Indigenous peoples,” said Wilf Adam, Lake Babine Nation.

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