As the nation’s leading think tank on the issues surrounding Indigenous peoples and resource development, we at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute understand that the key to future prosperity, opportunity and reconciliation is forming strong, long-term relationships between industry, government and Indigenous communities. We all want to see investment proceed. We need to work together to make it happen.
On November 29, 2018, we hosted an event titled ‘Reconciling Duty to Consult and Economic Opportunity: Jobs, Growth and Investment on the Natural Resource Frontier.’ This important gathering explored how comprehensive consultation with Indigenous communities is needed to protect the both the environment and the economic opportunities from development that many Indigenous communities will rely on for their economic future.
They need to be consulted when a pipeline is intended to cross their traditional territory, but also when a pipeline is blocked, oil tankers are banned, or exploratory drilling is curtailed. Many Indigenous leaders are becoming increasingly concerned that actions that have an economic impact on Indigenous peoples are not being taken nearly as carefully as decisions that affect the environment.
There is a lot of innovation and entrepreneurship going on. Indigenous peoples are finding new ways to capitalize on the economic opportunities provided by the resource sector.
As Stephen Buffalo, president of the Indian Resource Council has written in the National Post, “Far from being uniformly opposed to resource development, many Indigenous nations understand that careful engagement and effective partnerships will provide us with a once-in-a-century opportunity to share in Canada’s prosperity. Indigenous peoples need an economic base, jobs and income for our communities.”