Sharleen Gale is chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation and chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition.
To rebuild the economy after COVID we need to push ahead with major projects like expanding the electricity power grid in partnership with First Nations.
The COVID-19 crisis has upended the daily routines of Canadians and devastated the economy. As public health officials work to contain the virus, many of us have turned our thoughts to where the bottom lies and what a recovery will look like.
Some people have estimated that unemployment levels at the peak of the crisis may reach as high as 25 percent. Most Canadians can’t even fathom that, having heard about it only from grandparents or great-grandparents who lived through the Great Depression.
But for First Nations people living on reserve, unemployment on this scale is a fact of life. And we feel its devastating consequences every day: stress, depression, addictions, family violence and chronic illness.
In the new normal that we create after COVID, it is essential that job creation and economic development programs work for all Canadians, including Indigenous peoples.
As chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition, a coalition of 67 First Nations working to enhance the economic well-being of our members, I have already been considering ways to ensure First Nations have opportunities to participate in large resource projects — from the needed expansion of Canada’s electricity power grids to mining to oil and gas — as true partners. As we rebuild our economy, we have a real opportunity to think about a recovery that works for everyone.
For the rest of this column: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/april-2020/first-nations-need-to-play-a-role-in-post-covid-recovery/