VICTORIA - Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister Ida Chong highlighted the B.C. government's recent successes in reaching agreements that bring benefits to First Nations communities:
"As 2012 comes to a close, I take great pride in the progress we have made in reaching agreements that support the BC Jobs Plan by strengthening relationships with First Nations, while creating a climate where resource industries can flourish.
"Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith has spoken passionately about the benefits this approach has brought to Nanwakolas communities on Vancouver Island and the Coast. Through our partnerships and agreements, Nanwakolas has been able to hire a dozen staff to work on the many permitting requests in that region, building capacity within the First Nations and producing certainty for industry."
In 2012, the B.C. government has made great progress in creating certainty for resource development while improving life for First Nations communities and helping them build their economic strength. The following are highlights of the past year, which illustrate our co-operative approach:
* The renewed Nanwakolas Strategic Engagement Agreement increases investment certainty while strengthening Nanwakolas's relationship with the provincial government.
* The Kaska Strategic Engagement Agreement provides greater certainty on how resource development in more than 10 per cent of the province can proceed.
* Economic benefits and oil and gas consultation agreements with the
Fort Nelson First Nation benefits B.C.'s Northeast by establishing a clear process for consultation and management of lands and resources.
* The Haisla Framework Agreement will spur the development of another natural gas export facility in B.C.'s Northwest.
* The K'ómoks First Nation Agreement-in-Principle is a significant step toward a treaty that will bring increased certainty on the land and direct economic benefits to the K'ómoks people and surrounding communities.
* A reconciliation agreement with the Gitanyow Nation will lead to shared decision-making in an area covering 6,285 square kilometres and allow the Gitanyow to explore economic opportunities associated with the development of the Northwest Transmission Line.
* The Nak'azdli Economic Community Development Agreement (ECDA) on mining revenue-sharing creates certainty for the Mount Milligan mine project. With the signing of this agreement, B.C. now has three ECDAs, and further negotiations are underway for more.
* A strategic engagement agreement pilot with 12 Sto:lo First Nations creates a more streamlined consultation process for industry in the
* An incremental treaty agreement with the Nazko First Nation will expand economic development and job creation opportunities, and provide benefits to the First Nation in advance of a treaty final agreement.
* B.C.'s forest consultation and revenue sharing agreements provide economic benefits directly to First Nations communities based on forestry activity in their traditional territories. Since 2010, B.C. has signed nearly 100 of these agreements with First Nations throughout the province.
* The B.C. treaty process is also maintaining momentum, with strong progress at treaty tables across the province. This year saw the Tla'amin community vote in favour of their final agreement, as well as B.C. and Canada signing an agreement-in-principle with the K'ómoks First Nation.
A key part of the BC Jobs Plan is government's commitment to improving opportunities and resources for First Nations to participate in resource activity in their traditional territory. The agreements reached this year underscore an innovative approach that supports economic growth and job creation - not only for the First
Nations involved, but for neighbouring communities. Strengthening government's relationships with First Nations creates benefits for all British Columbians.
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