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Executive Chair's Address at Economic Forum in Terrace
Presentation to New Relationship Trust
Kevin McKay, Chairperson to the Executive of Nisga’a Lisims Government, was in Terrace on July 24, 2012 to give a presentation to several communities attending an economic forum hosted by the New Relationship Trust.
The theme of the forum was “Assertion of First Nation’s Rights for Economic Benefits.” The purpose of the gathering was to bring together Northwest First Nation’s in the region to share ideas or experiences. A venue to fully discuss the meaning of inherent rights to economic benefits. And identify steps for First Nations to implement these rights in order to achieve economic benefits for their nations. The Forum was well attended with several First Nation Communities.
Kevin shared the experience of Nisga’a Nation, presenting some of the main benefits of the Treaty as the starting point for the discussion. He explains "Through the Treaty, we also achieved certainty for our rights and interests in Nisga’a Lands and in the 26,000 sq Nass Area."
Kevin then presented the elements of the Nass Area Strategy. "A basic principle of the strategy is that only environmentally sound resource development projects that are consistent with Nisga’a Treaty rights will proceed." "When and only when these elements are satisfied will the Nation explore the opportunity for Nisga’a economic development." " These opportunities will vary by project but may include:
• Equity Ownership
• Revenue Sharing
• Contracting Opportunities
• Direct Employment
• Joint Venturing Opportunities
Under no circumstances will the Nation accept a tradeoff between environmental protection and economic benefits."
Kevin then commented on the benefits of this policy in the case of the Northern Transmission Line. "We have received several benefits, including contracting opportunities. From our contracting opportunities, we have successfully negotiated two further work contracts for the portion of the construction work that crosses onto Nisga’a Lands."
As a result, we have employed approximately 28 Nisga’a citizens
working in various positions such as: fallers, brushers, log sort crew, road construction crew, safety workers, environmental monitors, and heavy equipment operators.
We are establishing internal capacity for this work, rather than simply contracting out, so we can eventually bid on work outside
of the Valley.
In closing, Kevin stated “the Nass Area Strategy allows the Nisga’a Nation to give practical meaning to the political statement that was made on the effective date of the Treaty: that the Nisga’a Nation is open business.”
Overall, this presentation was well received.