A group of 204 First Nations in B.C. will soon have one central hub to look toward for support and advice on economic development.
The B.C. Assembly of First Nations announced Tuesday (Oct. 11) the launch of its new Centre of Excellence in First Nations Economic Development, along with a $1.2-million injection from the province.
The centre will work to implement economic initiatives highlighted in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan, develop and distribute best practices and guides to First Nations and provide consulting services on economic opportunities.
“First Nations in B.C. have been advocating for economic reconciliation for decades, and the centre of excellence demonstrates progress toward this goal,” Regional Chief Terry Teegee said in a statement.
“The centre of excellence will multiply the investments First Nations are making to close the socio-economic gap and bring us the prosperity we rightly deserve.”
Speaking Tuesday during a news conference, Teegee added that he hopes the centre will get First Nations more equitably involved in resource industries such a forestry, mining and natural gas.
He said some of the challenges the centre will face moving forward are finding the right people with culturally-appropriate expertise, determining how to serve both urban and rural First Nations communities and deciding where to place the central hub.
Federal Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said he hopes the centre inspires lasting well-being, pointing to it as an opportunity for First Nations to strengthen their own distinct economic initiatives.
The centre will employ six people this year, with anticipated plans to expand.