Statement: Greg D’Avignon on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Today, as we celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, we come together in the spirit of reconciliation and renewal to acknowledge the diverse cultures, knowledge, and history of Indigenous peoples, and to move forward together on a path to build a healthier and more prosperous B.C.

Economic reconciliation is about advancing opportunities and shared prosperity for everyone in British Columbia.

Reconciliation is at its core based on mutual respect and understanding. It can only be born from establishing deeper relationships and enhanced appreciation of cultures, both Indigenous and those of the communities, people, investors, and business operations that coexist on traditional territories. When this level of respect and understanding happens, as it has in B.C. hundreds of times, the result is a proven engine for economic growth. This proven pathway enables sole-source income and self-determination for Indigenous peoples and it is the non-indigenous communities and companies adjacent to them that share in that prosperity.

Reconciliation then is about creating a Province –and a country, for that matter—where Indigenous peoples are full participants in the economy and society, experiencing the shared benefits of economic prosperity and wealth we all want for our families.

The Business Council is proud to partner on many initiatives that support economic reconciliation, such as the Indigenous Intern Leadership Program (IILP) which employs talented Indigenous graduates from post-secondary institutions and trade programs in B.C. businesses. The IILP is one of the initiatives of the Champions Table, a joint initiative between BCBC and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations. Comprised of 11 Indigenous Chiefs and 11 senior business executives, the Champions Table works together to advance sustainable economic development, capacity-building, and deepen understanding to inform the development of policies and processes that accelerate reconciliation and achieve greater certainty for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous investors and companies operating on the land base. In addition to this work, we are also pleased to welcome Chief Willie Sellars of Williams Lake Indian Band to our Board of Governors in 2019.

We have the generational opportunity to accelerate and realize a bright future where there are no longer health, educational, and social gaps for Indigenous communities relative to non-Indigenous communities. An opportunity to purposely act to ensure communities and businesses are equitably participating in B.C.’s open trading economy while also creating a more competitive and certain environment for industry to operate and invest. Economic reconciliation with First Nation partners and people, anchored in authentic relationships built on trust, transparency, mutual accountability, and respect, is essential along the path to a prosperous future in British Columbia. Together, with Indigenous peoples and industry partners, we look forward to building a better future for all.