VANCOUVER — B.C. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson told delegates at the Mineral Exploration Roundup convention in Vancouver that the resource industry could be a game changer for First Nations in the province, but consent and respect will be needed before it will be embraced by local First Nations groups.
As an advocate for economic development, Gottfriedson said First Nation groups can use economic development to become more independent, and most of all to “protect what’s ours.”
“As we look at the changing landscape of how we interact in the 21st Century, we need to take advantage of the opportunities before us in the resource sector and the social sector as well,” he said. “Unfortunately we’ve seen many fights with the industry, and old school thinking, but we’ve got new companies coming in that want to partner with us, and I think the ones that do are having much more success from a public perception, and it’s also good corporate business.”
Gottfriedson described First Nations communities in the province as the “poorest of the poor” and among the most disadvantaged, but under a new federal government led by Prime Minister Trudeau, he says the future looks brighter.
“I really like Trudeau’s way forward on including us, and looking at how we can play a major role in the future,” he said. “We can and we will, but we also need industry to partner with us, be respectful and work with us to get that quality of life. We’re really good at managing poverty and I know we can be very good at managing wealth as well.”
However social change is also necessary, he said, and First Nations must “break down barriers”, think strategically and seek out partnerships.
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