ALASKA HIGHWAY NEWS – LNG job opportunities eliminate poverty in First Nation

Alaska Highway News
December 18, 2015 06:59 AM

It’s becoming more common to pick up a newspaper or see a news article online speaking about job opportunities that could be available for First Nations in BC as a result of LNG development — but it wasn’t always that way.

There was a time when the Kitselas First Nation said no to all natural resource development projects that would require use of our traditional territories. We regarded ourselves as wards of the state and stewards of the land, and rather than attempting to manage the proposed projects and discuss economic opportunities, we chose to not engage. As a result, our nation experienced an 80 per cent unemployment rate. This was a hard time for our people as it was difficult to find jobs that were local and reflected the skills our people possessed.

After some time, we started asking ourselves: what would happen if we said yes to even one of these projects? Our biggest concerns were educating our members on the facts behind LNG and our terms and agreements not being upheld. There was so much misinformation being shared online we wanted to ensure our people received an unbiased perspective on LNG before making a decision, so we brought in a third party expert. When we began the process, only one third of our people were in favour of considering these projects, and after hearing the facts, two thirds of our people were on board. We then realized we could protect ourselves if we put our conditions in a legally binding agreement that had to be honoured. It was at that point, we finally said yes to starting conversations with 20-some proponents.

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