B.C. welcomes dialogue on sustainable clean energy

Indigenous people in British Columbia can join a conversation on the growing clean-energy sector to help ensure First Nations are involved and benefiting from B.C.’s low-carbon economy.

“First Nations in B.C. are eager to participate in environmentally sustainable clean-energy opportunities that uphold inherent Indigenous Title and Rights,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. “To fairly ensure there are sufficient resources to invest in clean-energy projects we seek compensation from past projects and revenue sharing that we are equal partners in negotiating from all current projects on our lands.”

The Indigenous Clean Energy Opportunities (ICEO) engagement is jointly designed and led by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, and the First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC), in partnership with the First Nations Leadership Council.

A virtual workshop will be held on Nov. 17, 2021, to raise awareness of the engagement process and how participating in it can benefit First Nations.

“The Indigenous Clean Energy Opportunities engagement provides an accessible forum for First Nations Peoples around the province to get involved in the important conversations we need to have about our shared clean-energy future,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “I want to thank the First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations Energy and Mining Council for working with us to jointly design and co-lead the engagement. It brings us together in the spirit of reconciliation with this tremendous opportunity to shift to a clean-energy future that addresses the challenges of climate change.”

The Province is advancing plans for reducing emissions based on energy efficiency, electrification and fuel switching to clean sources, including in remote communities, that will open up a wide range of economic opportunities that can benefit First Nations communities. The ICEO engagement will explore what some of these opportunities might look like in order to benefit the broadest possible range of First Nations interests around clean energy.

Working together over the past months, the FNEMC and the ministry have developed draft terms of reference, including preliminary topic areas and a workplan to engage First Nations communities and organizations in an open-thinking and transparent dialogue to advance First Nations participation in B.C.’s clean-energy sector including, but not limited to, the electricity sub-sector and to seek to align B.C.’s strategic clean-energy policy and legislation with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Nov. 17 virtual workshop will be hosted by Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation; Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs; Regional Chief Terry Tegee of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations; and Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit.

Other speakers will include Chad Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government; Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; and Chief Gordon Planes of the T’Souke Nation.

B.C. was the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through legislation. The act passed unanimously in the B.C. legislature on Nov. 26, 2019.

For more information, visit indigenouscleanenergyopportunities.gov.bc.ca.

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