First Nations hold veto over resource development

Provincially, says Gallagher, “Only Quebec has risen to address this complex social justice and environmental challenge.”

He points to a 2002 Paix des Braves agreement signed by Ottawa, Quebec City and the James Bay Cree.

The 50-year deal, which followed decades of court battles, mandates sharing among the parties of decision-making and revenue relating to mining, forestry and hydro power development on Cree land in northern Quebec.

The Cree, expecting to reap $3.5 billion from the accord, have opened an embassy in Quebec City in the spirit of nation-to-nation dealings.

B.C., Gallagher says, is making progress in engaging aboriginals in resource decision-making while Ontario is by far the poorest performer on this front.” – Barbara Yaffe From: “First Nations hold veto over resource development”, Vancouver Sun, November 12, 2012

– Full Article –

Governments and corporate Canada remain in denial about a new reality: aboriginal groups hold veto power over resource development.

In his just-published book, Resource Rulers; Fortune and Folly on Canada’s Road to Resources, Bill Gallagher reviews the legal victories natives have toted up since the 1980s, and draws an intriguing conclusion.

He says it’s no longer enough for companies to merely consult on resource projects, they need to invite aboriginals to become partners and co-managers in proposed developments.

Gallagher, a Kitchener resident who has worked as an oil-patch lawyer and treaty negotiator, calls the situation “the biggest under-reported business story of the last decade.”

He personally has counted up “well over” 150 legal wins for native groups, all based on provisions outlined in Canada’s Constitution.

“The native legal winning streak now simply has to be fundamentally and constructively addressed, both nationally and regionally .”

That message was reinforced last week by Assembly of First Nations chief Shawn Atleo, speaking at a gathering north of Thunder Bay. Atleo said aboriginals are prepared to take care of themselves financially, using revenue from resources they believe they own.

Gallagher says natives have become unrelenting because their legal wins have convinced them of their clout.

That attitude is playing out at the moment in their inflexible opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C. – despite the fact some native groups in the province have signed on to the project.

He says ultimately it will be the native people who will have the major voice in deciding risks that can be tolerated in transporting bitumen.

In the same vein, Gallagher labels “inconceivable” any oil development off B.C.’s coast – in an area where ownership rights remain unclear.

“Until we have true resource-power sharing with natives, the fate of Canada’s resource sector will be in the hands of native strategists in their new capacity as resource rulers.”

The aboriginals also are benefiting from the help of sophisticated eco-activists, though occasionally, they’ve spurned such help in favour of resource revenue and jobs on offer.

Natives, asserts the author, are “in the driver’s seat,” with power outmuscling that found even in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Provincially, says Gallagher, “Only Quebec has risen to address this complex social justice and environmental challenge.”

He points to a 2002 Paix des Braves agreement signed by Ottawa, Quebec City and the James Bay Cree.

The 50-year deal, which followed decades of court battles, mandates sharing among the parties of decision-making and revenue relating to mining, forestry and hydro power development on Cree land in northern Quebec.

The Cree, expecting to reap $3.5 billion from the accord, have opened an embassy in Quebec City in the spirit of nation-to-nation dealings.

B.C., Gallagher says, is making progress in engaging aboriginals in resource decision-making while Ontario is by far the poorest performer on this front.

Former premier Gordon Campbell, who presided over a 2010 Olympics that fully recognized B.C.’s aboriginals, received credit from the author for being the Canadian leader who has tried hardest to bring about a reconciliation with native Indians.

In Alberta, the oilpatch has yet to realize, “only natives can green the oil-sands and thereby imbue Canada’s bitumen with a measure of international respectability.”

As for the corporate sector, Gallagher says too many business executives continue to take native people for granted.

Perhaps in recognition of the growing influence of aboriginal people across the country, a trio of aboriginal lieutenants-governor have been appointed: Ontario’s James Bartleman in 2002; B.C.’s Steven Point in 2007 and New Brunswick’s Gray-don Nicholas in 2009.

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About Rotinonshonni ónhwe - Tkanatáhere

We belong to families organized pursuant to ancient ways. Ka-nyen-geh-ha-kah (Mohawks) of Grand River support site. "Very simply, frauds and deceit have usurped this war reparation and robbed our people of what is rightfully ours, leaving us with only a Land Claim. Broken deals, fraud, embezzlement and genocide – and worse – all perpetrated at the unclean hands of too many to count at this time. We are (Mohawks) Ka-nyen-geh-ha-kah of Grand River, founders of the Five Nation League and what some call the "Great Peace".

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