TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – A new “ground breaking” company had been formed to assist aboriginal communities and individuals to become successful at managing economic opportunities in their traditional territories.
Newly formed Eagle Spirit Energy board member and aboriginal businessman Dave Tuccaro said major corporations did not understand that the era of having a “business-as-usual approach of offering beads and trinkets” to First Nations for projects in their traditional territories was over.
"Aboriginal people are not anti-business and they recognise the opportunities that development brings, but projects need to be done on their terms,” he said in a statement.
Chairperson and president Calvin Helin had assembled a team of experienced individuals in the resource-development space to work with communities to establish a First Nations energy corridor across northern British Columbia.
Helin, a member of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, and son of a hereditary chief, said Eagle Spirit Energy chose Prince Rupert to kick off its new endeavour, owing to concern about the environmental impacts on families and communities and the alleged lack of transparency, fair equity participation, business benefits and real consultation that had characterised a recent flurry of energy projects in the region.
"These projects impact the lands upon which our people have continuously lived for 10 000 years. Eagle Spirit Energy intends to move forward only with publicly supported projects that can produce benefits to those who are involved," he said.
''It is important for the economic development of our communities that our entrepreneurs step out into the business arena to help build capacity,” British Columbia First Nations Energy and Mining Council CEO Dave Porter said.
Denendeh Investments CEO and Eagle Spirit Energy board member Darrell Beaulieu added that an aboriginal-owned energy corridor that provided for the economic wellbeing and a environmentally balanced and sustainable business solution that would benefit aboriginal peoples, industry and governments was an important “leading-edge solution”.
“To disagree with the concept and partnership benefits would clearly signal and enhance the polarisation, uncertainty and character of Canada's business environment with aboriginal people,” he said.
Helin said members of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition in Canada's north had treaties that had resulted in the ownership, control or influence over almost half the Canadian land mass, which represented a land base that was larger than the 27 countries represented in the European Union.
However, this did not include many yet-to-be-settled treaties, or the legal requirement for consultation and accommodation that First Nations possessed for projects that impacted on their rights in traditional territories below the 60th parallel. These rights had been underscored by recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, which formed part of an unprecedented string of 150 court victories.
Partner and financial backer the Aquilini Investment Group said it was looking forward to solving energy problems with better solutions for First Nations in British Columbia.