Indigenous organization praises BC government for energy deal

Indigenous organization praises BC government for energy deal

The Indigenous Resource Network (IRN) said it supports the agreement the British Columbia government and Blueberry River First Nations Chief Judy Desjarlais signed to promote responsible resource development.

“The Indigenous Resource Network is centrally concerned with advocating responsible resource development for indigenous communities across Canada and that means working together with government and industry,” said IRN Board Chair John Desjarlais in a Wednesday press release.

“We support this historic agreement and are encouraged by this approach of balancing protection of indigenous rights and territory, and meaningfully respecting a nations pursuit of economic development for the region.”

Blueberry River First Nations reached the agreement Wednesday with the British Columbia government to protect wildlife, forests, and land and share revenue from oil and gas development. 
The deal comes after a court ruling in 2021 that found the British Columbia government infringed on the Blueberry River First Nations’ treaty rights because the province allowed resource development without its approval.
“Blueberry now has a say every step of the way,” said Judy. 

The release said the deal comes after months of negotiations with the British Columbia government on how to work towards responsible resource development. 

Judy said people are “truly witnessing a historic moment.”

The release concluded by saying the IRN is honoured to have Judy as a board member and are proud of the work Blueberry River and her have accomplished.

The IRN unveiled a campaign to advocate for indigenous ownership in natural resources projects in August.

“The problems our communities are facing is there are few mechanisms to access the necessary capital for investing in projects and having equity” said former IRN executive director Robert Merasty. 

“Having a National Indigenous Guaranteed Loan Program is a step the federal government can take that will help First Nations get the capital needed to become partners and owners of the projects on our own lands.”

Read full article here.