National native chief Shawn Atleo wants resources partnership with Canadian provincial premiers – by Heather Scoffield (Canadian Press/Toronto Star – July 25, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

OTTAWA — National chief Shawn Atleo wants the premiers to recognize First Nations as full and equal partners in developing natural resources, but he says such recognition should not have to wait for politicians to agree on a national energy plan.

The head of the Assembly of First Nations and other aboriginal leaders are meeting today with premiers in Lunenburg, N.S., in advance of the annual Council of the Federation summit on inter-provincial relations.

The premiers, like Atleo, are consumed with devising better ways to develop natural resources so that more people can benefit, and so that the environment does not pay too steep a price.

But details of what a national energy strategy would look like are vague, and buy-in from all the provinces is uncertain — especially now that Alberta and British Columbia are sparring openly over the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Atleo says the premiers don’t need to reach agreement on a strategy to recognize and support the fundamental concept of First Nations having the right to have a say and share in the wealth that comes from exploiting natural resources.

“We have to be full partners,” he said in an interview from Halifax on Tuesday night.

That means engaging with First Nations early and often, obtaining their consent in the plans for development, and devising ways to share the spoils, such as through equity stakes or investment in communities, he said.

At their annual general meeting last week, First Nations chiefs made it clear they will insist on playing a larger role, either through negotiation with the provincial and federal governments, through the courts or through protests and blockades, Atleo said.

Indeed, many individual First Nations are in the midst of opposing some of Canada’s largest resource developments: the Northern Gateway pipeline to take Alberta bitumen to the West Coast; the Plan Nord for Quebec and the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in northern Ontario.

The conflict “becomes a familiar pattern that we’re trying to break out of,” Atleo said.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website:–national-native-chief-shawn-atleo-wants-resources-partnership-with-canadian-provincial-premiers

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