WILLIAMS LAKE – On behalf of the Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB), Chief Ann Louie today called for the government of British Columbia to revisit the content of its Economic and Community Development Agreements with First Nations in the province of British Columbia. Economic and Community Development Agreements (ECDA) are agreements between Government and First Nations for sharing the direct mineral tax revenue on new mines and major mine expansions. In March of 2013, WLIB signed an ECDA with the province with respect to Mount Polley Mine.
“In the estimation of WLIB, the ECDA agreements are not providing a reasonable return to First Nations for the extraction of resources within their traditional territories,” states WLIB Chief, Ann Louie. “In 2013/2014, the first year of our ECDA, Williams Lake Indian Band is slated to receive just over $4,000 as its share of the mineral tax received by the Province of British Columbia. Mount Polley Mine has been open for nearly 20 years, generated hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in gross revenue and tens of millions of dollars of mineral taxation revenue for the province. But our share of this wealth to date is $4,000.”
In June of 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in the Tsilhqot’in Nation case, and ushered in a new era of aboriginal title. For the first time, the court recognized the existence of aboriginal title on a particular site, covering a vast swath of the British Columbia interior. The court also spelled out in detail what aboriginal title means: control of ancestral lands and the right to use them in accordance with the principles set down by the court.
“ECDAs were intended to be part of the reconciliation with First Nations,” Chief Louie adds, “But if our experience is an indicator they fall woefully short of that goal. First Nations are legally entitled to a legitimate share of the return from the resources in their territories, and so the ECDAs, along with sharing agreements in other sectors, need to be revisited. To offer up such a miniscule amount and suggest it represents a legitimate “sharing” is offensive in the extreme, and is simply provoking First Nations to take action.”
For more information, please contact please contact Kirk Dressler, Williams Lake Indian Band
Economic Development Officer, at (250) 296-3507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.