Statement on report of Doug Eyford to the Prime Minister

The revelation in Mr. Eyford’s report that Aboriginal communities on Canada’s west coast want a better approach to energy projects from the Canadian government is not new. This report strongly points to the need for reconciliation and respect for First Nations rights and title as a foundation, not an afterthought, to resource development in Canada. It also suggests that the urgency for leadership from the federal government couldn’t be higher. Much damage has been done to First Nation relations and an enormous amount of private investment depends on restoring trust.

Mr. Eyford’s report confirms what many in the Northwest  have known for a long time: the Conservative government’s relationship with First Nations has been damaged by a serious lack of trust and good faith. The generations and generations of broken promises, and the failure of the Harper government to act on the land question or maintain a credible system for environmental protection has deeply hindered Canada’s relationship with First Nations. And without that reconciliation, partnership and social licence, the Harper government has jeopardized Canada’s ability to develop its natural resources.

Northwestern BC, from Haida Gwaii to the Nass Valley to Kitamaat, is filled with examples of First Nations showing leadership on land management and resource development, and what happens when governments actually listen and act in good faith – everyone can benefit.

The question now is whether the Prime Minister will listen to his own special envoy and turn a corner on his government’s damaged relationship with First Nations.