All residents of this region are encouraged by the jobs and investments we are starting to see come this way, from the RTA modernization to the KMLNG project and the joint venture the Haisla have with LNG Partners of Houston in the BC LNG proposal now before the National Energy Board for an export permit.
It is plain for anyone to see from this activity and more that the Haisla are open to economic development if the conditions are right.
What we look for in the projects that are being considered in our traditional territory are benefits (jobs, investment, business opportunities) that are not only meaningful to our people, but also to others who live in the Kitimat-Terrace region – and to British Columbia as a whole.
Yes, there are projects and proposals that we oppose – projects that would wipe out our natural resources, or those that exclude the Haisla.
We also cannot support speculative projects where a proponent is out to make a quick profit and leave someone else to do implementation.
We strongly believe that Haisla territory deserves long-term planning and investment and we want to see project proponents take on a similar perspective.
As our relationship with the provincial government develops, we are seeing that what we are able to achieve in our traditional territory has positive impacts on BC.
As rights and title issues are agreed on, we want to place a priority on the use of BC resources over those from other provinces, and on seeing benefits accrue to BC first.
It is also important that project proponents understand that case law has moved to the point where the proponent, BC and the Haisla all have a large role to play in what happens at a practical level to see projects proceed in timelines that make sense.
We believe that all three parties can resolve issues if we all work in a spirit of respect and of co-operation.
The acrimony of the past should stay in the past. Instead, let’s get something done together.
Lastly, we are pleased to hear premier Clark say that British Columbia believes that there must be a way for the province and First Nations to resolve issues and make progress without having to go through the Treaty process.
The Treaty process is important, but it is cumbersome and slow, especially on issues regarding land.
The Haisla believe that when we can agree with the province on the fundamental land issues that underlie the economic opportunities before us, solutions will soon follow and proposals will get funded and will get built.
Clearly, economic opportunities work on their own timelines, and these are never the same timelines as the treaty process.
Ellis Ross is chief councillor of the Haisla Nation