The B.C. government has signed a reconciliation agreement with seven Indigenous communities that will provide $175 million over five years to develop the forest industry, local economy and culture.
The “Pathways Forward 2.0” agreement provides the funds to members of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council in the Prince George region of central B.C. The largest part is a five-year, $70 million economic development fund “to support business development, partnerships with neighbouring communities and joint ventures that will benefit the economy of the region as a whole,” Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday.
Other funds include:
• $40 million over five years to accommodate impacts from forest and range activities
• $25 million over five years for “capacity funding for implementing the agreement and continuing negotiations on a long-term, comprehensive agreement between the tribal council, provincial and federal governments
• $15 million “wealth fund” invested to generate revenues to support community growth
• $12.5 million over five years to revitalize Carrier and Sekani languages and culture
• $12.5 million over five years “to build on governance processes and structures, with a goal of self-government”
The seven Carrier Sekani First Nations are the Stellat’en First Nation, Nadleh Whut’en, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band), Saik’uz First Nation, Nak’azdli Whut’en, Takla Nation and Tl’azt’en Nation.
Mayors of Prince George, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof welcomed the announcement, along with chiefs of the Indigenous communities.
“The Pathways Forward 2.0 Agreement is historic and marks the beginning of a positive co-operative relationship between B.C. and Carrier Sekani First Nations,” said Chief Priscilla Mueller of the Saik’uz First Nation. “The social-economic benefits to the Omineca region will be significant, and the message to all citizens should be that if First Nations prosper, then everyone prospers.”