John Desjarlais Jr. is Cree-Métis from Kaministikominahikoskak. He’s general manager of Great Plains Construction, and an advisory board member with the Indigenous Resource Network. Heather Exner-Pirot is a research adviser to the Indigenous Resource Network and a fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.
In the polarized “environment versus economy” debate we’re having, there’s often an assumption, or an assertion, that Indigenous peoples are mostly against resource development.
This is manifested in blockades, protests at legislatures and university campuses, and cries from activists that they stand in solidarity with Indigenous people when they stand against mining, oil and gas, commercial fishing, hydro, and forestry projects.
For those familiar with the matter, this has always been a bit puzzling. Resource development is often the biggest economic driver of Indigenous communities, since it provides revenues for nations and well-paying jobs closer to home. Indigenous businesses are 40 times more likely to be involved in the extractive industry than Canadian ones.
There are absolutely cases where Indigenous nations have had disputes with resource companies, and when their rights have been disrespected. But this is not the same as being against resource development in principle.
The public discussion of the issue has failed to grasp that key distinction: Indigenous peoples are not generally opposed to development; they are opposed to not being included, and they are against assuming risks without reaping any of the rewards.
For the rest of this article: https://ipolitics.ca/2021/06/14/most-indigenous-people-support-resource-development-poll/