Newsletter: Alliance prominent at LNG conference

Alliance leaders won applause from a record-sized audience at the seventh annual Canada Gas and LNG conference in Vancouver May 21-23.

They were indeed “front and centre” as the Resource Works Society reported, in a story that said: “Indigenous people made it clear what LNG development means to their communities as well as all of B.C.”

Our CEO, Karen Ogen-Toews, and board member Chief Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation were our representatives on an opening-day panel discussion.

Karen: “LNG offers us an opportunity to move from managing poverty to managing prosperity. There are opportunities for everyone.”

Chief Crystal: “To have one of the single biggest business investment decisions made in Haisla Territory is amazing. . . . You can see the change in the mindset of the younger generation because now they know they have opportunities available for them and that’s just with one project.”

Resource Works went on to report: “The difference that LNG development can make to B.C. and Canada – and what it will take to realize that promise – was perhaps best summed up by Smith during the panel discussion ‘First Nations: Getting to FID and what comes next?’ in her response to a question from moderator Lisa Mueller, founder of Nation2Nation.

“‘Give a person a job and you change their life,’ said Smith.

“‘The real work is just beginning. It’s going to take more collaboration between government, industry and First Nations to ensure long-term success. Collaboration is key to creating that long-term vision.’”

From left: Chief Crystal Smith; Laurel Nash, an assistant deputy minister in BC’s Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Chief Archie Patrick of the Stellat’en Nation; Karen Ogen-Toews; and moderator Lisa Mueller, founder of Nation2Nation.

Meanwhile, we had more than 200 people stop by our booth in the trade show section of the conference.

The most common question we were asked, by non-Indigenous conference delegates: “How do I do business with a First Nation or First Nations?”

Our most common answer:

“Find out who you should first talk to, and go ahead and call them. But remember that you’re going to explore and to consult, not to walk in with some great big business plan you prepared without First Nations input. Don’t just drop a plan on the table and ask for instant approval.

“It’s all going to take time, a lot of time. You need to build trust, not hammer people with PowerPoint presentations. You need to build a partnership. Treat the people — and the process — with respect. Listen, listen, listen. Then keep listening. They’ll tell you when the time is right to look at a plan, together.”

Sadly, because of the clash in scheduling, we were not able to attend the Indigenous Resource Opportunities conference in Nanaimo, which took place on the last day of the Vancouver conference on May 23.

But we did note a guest column on UNDRIP in Business in Vancouver from Dallas Smith, president of the Nanwakolas Council in Campbell River and chair of Nanaimo conference. Among his remarks on UNDRIP was this:

“It’s an opportunity for First Nations, government and industry to develop a framework for meaningful consultation that meets the legitimate needs of everyone involved, provided all parties do their part to make it work.”

We’ll second that. . . .

(Posted here 29 May 2019)