While opponents steal the limelight, scores of pro-development First Nations groups worry they'll lose once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that could lift people out of poverty. Ellis Ross is filled with gut-wrenching dread as several major proposed energy projects unravel in British Columbia. The former chief counsellor of the Haisla Nation near Kitimat has laboured for more than 13 years to improve Indigenous lives through economic self-sufficiency — it’s how he says he measures success — and now it could all come crashing down because of what he believes are misguided government actions that burden those projects with unnecessary costs.
Opponents of energy projects may get attention and results by organizing protests, launching lawsuits, discrediting regulators and influencing governments, but Ross said scores of pro-energy development First Nations groups are worried about losing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ross said governments in Victoria and Ottawa in particular are “competing to get rid of industry” rather than competing to attract industry, like the United States aggressively does, echoing the experiences of Indigenous leaders in other regions, where environmental activism has crushed the fur trade, seal hunt and natural resource extraction and left behind poverty, isolation and resentment. “The more sickening thing for me is that these people who oppose development in Canada truly believe they win when they defeat a project,” Ross said. “Actually, you don’t win. It’s just that the United States buys the Canadian product at a discount and sells it on the international market.” Source: National Post
Photo credit: Skeena Wild Conservation
Victoria, British Columbia