A new study authored through B.C.’s Wilderness Committee says community leaders should start working on meeting climate change goals, while focusing on reconciliation with First Nations.
“We spoke to a lot of indigenous and local government leaders from northeast B.C. and really what we heard is that the provincial government needs to stop essentially treating these areas as a resource colony,” said committee project manager Peter McCartney.
He noted revenue is often used from northern B.C. to fund projects in southern B.C.
“They should reinvest that resource revenue and make more funding available, invest in capacity, and sort of devolve decision-making power to local communities so they can have that transition that we’re all talking about."
McCartney said that Dawson Creek and Fort St John had fair share agreements with the province put in place in the 1990s, and worked well at the time to ensure economic development within those communities.
He added it’s since changed to the new Peace River Agreement, noting local leaders have expressed concerns about a future without oil and gas.
“It’s about what these communities can look like in 30 years, and folks from the south can’t tell people in Dawson Creek and Fort St John what that is,” said McCartney.
"But we heard pretty loud and clear that there are lots of opportunities that leaders in these communities see as the world takes action on climate change.”
UNBC researcher Megan Gordon spent six months interviewing 24 Indigenous and non-indigenous leaders from 21 communities across the north to prepare the report, titled ‘Voices and Vision of Northern British Columbia’.
Half of the participants were from local First Nations and half from local governments, and included chiefs, mayors, councillors, city managers, and chief administrative officers.
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News