BY BILL PHILLIPS
Representatives from about 40 First Nations from across the country were hunkered down in the Civic Centre earlier this week as First Nations Major Projects Coalition held its second meeting in Prince George this year.
The coalition was formed to explore economic options to facilitate an ownership interest in major projects, as well as environmental options, to enable First Nations influence and management of impacts caused by major projects over $100 million.
“What we do it provide technical capacity so that they can make informed decisions and if they want to be involved in business,” said Sharleen Gale, coalition chair from the Fort Nelson First Nation, about the work the coalition does.
Coalition members will bring forward projects and then the coalition will help them examine the merits of the projects.
“This organization is so important because we’ve seen huge major project opportunities not come to fruition because the community engagement not happening at the forefront, and a lot of the concerns that First Nations people have when a major project is coming is the environmental stewardship of it,” she said. “We find that this is a very good venue to have those discussions about how a project and proceed.”
The First Nations Major Projects Coalition is a non-political organization. It tends to stay business focused, however, she said First Nations have been trying to address the issue of funding flowing to First Nations.
“For us to have the ability to be involved in these major decisions at the board room level, and make decisions that are going to impact who we are, as people, is very important,” she said.