Richardson Roundtable on energy development & First Nations
December 2, 2015
Summary of attendees
The Richardson Roundable brought together a small group of senior industry and aboriginal leaders. Special guests included Sheldon Wuttunee, President & CEO, Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence, and Shane Gottfriedson, Regional Chief, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations. The roundtable was hosted by Trevor McLeod of the Foundation’s Centre for Natural Resources Policy and hosted by Dentons Canada LLP.
Summary of discussion
The wide-ranging, frank discussion focused on the challenges facing resource development and transportation and how to build trust and mutual understanding to work together in the future. The discussion explored the growing recognition from some First Nations that there is value for communities in cooperating with resource developers, but agreements should include economic opportunities to develop skills and support employment. History, culture and tradition should also be recognized, alongside economic opportunities. While some projects remain adversarial in nature, there is optimism about finding ways to make economic development projects work. Aboriginal partners are looking for ways to incorporate history and create innovative careers and wealth for the next generation.
- First Nations history is rooted to the land and that is why they fight so fiercely to preserve it. Yet, there is an appetite to build new opportunities for the next generation through innovative ways of doing business – shifting the conversation from “managing poverty” to “managing wealth.” First Nations want to be consulted as partners. There is also a growing recognition that they must bring value to the table.
- Environmental assessments are positive, but should incorporate local knowledge into the science and include cultural heritage assessment – a “four-season” study of ways to build deeper understanding.
- Regulatory project reports should take a long view rather than a transactional approach and shouldn’t simply sit on the shelf gathering dust.
- Success stories exist, and telling those stories helps demonstrate the value to First Nations communities of working with resource developers.
- Strategic, national roundtables on mining, oil and gas and forestry, with industry, First Nations and government could help craft the way forward.