First Nations deserve resource rights, but ‘almighty dollar’ encourages risky development: activist (CBC Radio – May 27, 2018)

It’s not easy for Canada’s First Nations to act as both land protectors and drivers of economic development. But it is possible, says an Indigenous leader.

“We’re Canada’s first entrepreneurs,” J.P. Gladu, president of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business told Duncan McCue, host of Cross Country Checkup. “There’s always been an impact on the resources … now there’s an opportunity to build a modern-day economy and we know that there are going to be impacts.”

In a live broadcast from Prince Rupert, B.C., Sunday, Canadians weighed in on whether it’s time to transfer resource rights back to First Nations. Despite decades of commissions and reports, the issue of land rights remains contentious — and unresolved.

While many of the First Nation members that spoke to Cross Country Checkup agree bands should have access to their own resources, some are worried about what increased access means for the environment. “That is the toughest question of the day,” Gladu said.

First Nations across the country are reaping the benefits of extracting their resources. Lax Kw’alaams in northwest B.C. has become the main player in that area’s forestry industry, and annual revenues have been in the tens of millions.

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