AFN Chief Atleo supports resource extraction – but wants respect and better terms

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade last week, indicating a willingness to work with the federal government on major resource extraction projects, if the terms of the agreements were better for First Nations.

Speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade last [tweetable]Friday, September 27, #Atleo said that “We are at a moment of either #collaboration or #collision” [/tweetable]and that he wanted to see a “balance between development and environment.”

“There’s a recognition that [First Nations] will shape the conversation about both extraction of natural resources but also distribution.”

Since the peaking of Idle No More in the beginning of 2013, and even long before, many grassroots Onkwehon:we people have been wondering if the rhetoric and posturing by the AFN around resource development is not just about securing a larger share of the spoils from such projects rather than the deeper concerns of many Onkwehon:we and even non-Onkwehon:we, which include concerns about ecological destruction, forfeiture of land claims, and the reality that too often so little of the profits reaped by these projects go to the people,  as the blockade of diamond mines near Attawapiskat earlier this year illustrated.

Across Canada, grassroots Onkwenhon:we are often taking independent if not conflicting positions than Chief and Council in relation to resource-related projects, such as with fracking in New Brunswick. 

Atleo said in his presentation that “This is not only about saying yes or no to a single proposal, it’s about being involved in driving a new vision forward.”

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