As we wait to see which party will lead the province forward, I believe not only that there is no clear winner for this election, but I also have a sinking feeling that First Nations will be the biggest loser.
While clear progress has been made with the record number of indigenous MLAs elected, in each party the discussion of indigenous issues was virtually invisible during the campaign. Party leaders are making big claims about how they will handle the economy and environment of the province with little First Nation input.
First Nations have worked diligently toward, and are active participants, in resource industries that could be jeopardized as party leaders jockey for power. The LNG industry, for example, has already led to training and job opportunities for First Nations communities, and promises long-term benefits if the industry becomes a reality. If leaders don’t support the industry here, First Nations and all British Columbians risk missing out on these opportunities entirely as the U.S. LNG industry leaps ahead and looks at Canada’s natural gas resources to meet demand for LNG, with no benefits for B.C.
I hope all three parties can put away their ideology and get to work. We have an opportunity to take a different approach and it’s long overdue. We need real leadership and courage by our leaders, and we need to balance the environment and economy, and make compromises to ensure all British Columbians have viable and sustainable opportunities.
Karen Ogen, CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance