Toronto, ON – (March 9, 2015) The Working Group on Natural Resources Development, set up as an independent body by the Assembly of First Nations and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada today released its final report, Advancing Positive, Impactful Change. The report builds on discussions with First Nations leaders, industry and experts and sets out key themes and recommendations outlining potential ways to increase First Nations participation in natural resources development projects.
In November 2014, the Working Group held two working sessions that focused on the themes of governance, environment, prosperity and finance. The report details these discussions and ideas, along with observations and recommendations for next steps that provide a foundation for further dialogue and action.
At sessions in Edmonton and Toronto, a central message that emerged is that individuals, businesses, communities and governments need to move beyond a basic duty to consult and embrace a more robust duty to engage and involve First Nations in all aspects of natural resources development. This requires the commitment and support of all levels of government. These efforts have potential to promote greater First Nations’ participation, prosperity and well-being in a way that benefits all Canadians.
In terms of immediate action, the report recommends that the dialogue on First Nations involvement in natural resource development be taken up nationally by governments and First Nations across Canada, with the support of experts, industry, and non-governmental organizations. This is necessary for moving forward on key issues like resource revenue sharing and other important matters.
The Working Group report supports the creation of an independent resource centre that can provide easy access to practical and technical information and advisory services that can enable First Nations governments, businesses and individuals to participate more fully in all aspects of natural resource development. The information collected and shared will help advance
understanding, planning and decision-making. Topics covered could include governance, capacity, best practices, skills, knowledge-sharing, markets, finances, environment and geology. The federal and provincial/territorial governments can take an active role to help establish such a resource centre in cooperation with First Nations. This initiative would also benefit from the expertise and capacity of industry and the non-governmental sector.
The Working Group identified access to international markets and business and investor relations as an area of much interest to First Nations. The report recommends that an international meeting be organized within the next 12 months to examine and expand First Nations involvement in resource development, trade relationships, business partnerships, and access to foreign markets.
The Working Group acknowledges all of those who participated in the sessions and dialogue that advanced the understanding of these complex issues. It is clear that Canada is at a pivotal moment. The time is now and the opportunities are immense.
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