While British Columbia slogs through reforms to comply with a United Nations resolution on Indigenous rights, the private sector has been quietly embracing the benchmarks of its own accord.
B.C. lawyer Merle Alexander said he had worked on two deals between First Nations and resource companies in the past year, both complying in large part with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which B.C. committed to adopting in 2019.
Mr. Alexander, who acts as general counsel to the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and also represents a number of individual First Nations, said the “pre-compliance” deals involved a mining firm and an LNG industry group.
“Those industries are making significantly more progress than the public process,” said Mr. Alexander, who is a member of the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation. “Because, in a way, it’s sort of simpler because it’s a bilateral process, and there’s usually only a few parties involved in, say, an impact-benefit agreement negotiation.” He said he can’t disclose the participants in the projects on confidentiality grounds.
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