New poll says majority of Indigenous people support resource development

A new poll conducted by Environics Research for the Indigenous Resource Network (IRN)found that 65% of respondents support natural resource development. Only […]

A new poll conducted by Environics Research for the Indigenous Resource Network (IRN)found that 65% of respondents support natural resource development. Only 23% said they were opposed. Asked if a new project were to be proposed near their own community, supporters outweighed opponents two-to-one (54% to 26%).

Environics contacted 549 self-identified First Nation, Metis and Inuit persons living in rural areas or on reserve across Canada by phone between March 25 and April 16.

Respondents were also asked more specifically about types of resource development. Majorities supported both mining (59% support vs. 32% opposed) and oil and gas development (53% support vs. 41% opposed). Among the reasons they gave for their support, job opportunities, economic development and access to health care were deemed most important. Other reasons were governance, education, traditional activities and federal transfers.

"This helps confirm what we've seen and heard in our communities. Most of us are not opposed resource to development. We are opposed to being left out," said John Desjarlais, IRN advisory board member. "In particular, the poll finds that best practices in environmental protection, economic benefits and high safety standards lead to increased Indigenous support for projects."

IRN chair Arnie Bellis echoed the thought, saying, "What we want is meaningful inclusion and ownership in the development of our own resources. This will create jobs for our young peoples and provide them with opportunities to develop their intellect."

Other highlights from the poll include:

  • Respondents of working age, 35 to 54 years, were more supportive (70%) than younger ones, 18 to 34 years (56%).
  • Men were more likely to oppose development (28%) than women (19%).
  • Strong support for development was highest among those who felt they were well-informed about a topic, but only 30% put themselves in the “well informed” category. Most of the remainder said they were “somewhat well informed” (38%) or “not well informed” (30%).
  • Half of respondents (49%) believe that resource development can “definitely” be done while respecting the land and the environment. A third thought it “may or may not” be possible, and only 11% believed it “could not” be done.
  • Indigenous people were more likely to support a project that met certain criteria. If it includes best practices in environmental protection, 79% were in support. If it provides economic benefits such as jobs, business opportunities and revenues for the community, 77% were in support. High levels of support were also recorded if a project had best safety practices (77%), community consultation (69%) and community consent to proceed (62%).

The Indigenous Resource Network is a non-partisan platform for Indigenous workers and business owners involved in resource development. Find it at


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