First Nations communities in Yukon want reliable economic growth, job creation, and assurance that their cultures can continue to thrive. Those are the goals that First Nations development corporations are working hard to fulfill.
There’s an issue that’s affecting communities in Yukon, and it’s not just unique to First Nations: talent flight. Young people often look elsewhere in Canada to gain their education or find rewarding work. Either they can’t find work or work that pays enough, or they want a quality of life that isn’t possible in remote communities.
For many in our territory, heritage is tied to the land. That’s especially true for First Nations that have pride in rich ancestral histories from time immemorial. There’s nothing more valuable than being able to stay, thrive, and ensure that our children can too.
First Nation development corporations have stepped in to secure just that. They create employment, invest to meet the needs of communities (like importing essential goods or producing energy), and explore options to benefit the citizens of their nations.
Natural resources are an important part of the solution. A recent report by the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board identified an infrastructure deficit in the North – communications, transportation, and energy infrastructure, specifically – and pointed out resource development as an answer to all the catching up needed for quality of life. The Board found also that every $1 spent on infrastructure for those projects (like roads or energy supplies) produced $22 of benefit!
A chart from the report shows the impact infrastructure spending (red) has on Northern economies, according to the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board. According to the report, every dollar spent on infrastructure returns $22 to the Northern economy. (National Aboriginal Economic Development Board)
It’s clear that the potential benefits of investing in Yukon’s energy infrastructure are immense. First Nations development corporations know this. Some are acting quickly to secure these prospects. Stanley Noel, CEO of the Yukon Indian Development Corporation, says that First Nations have been significant equity partners in 8 major Yukon resource development projects in recent years.
“The Yukon has matured into a market ready to accept investment in large-scale resource and energy projects,” says Noel. “When you have a government that encourages participation from all stakeholders and you have Yukon First Nations with significant investment equity to bring to the table, it’s clear that we’re ready to work with the largest companies who want to operate here.”
Revenue sharing is another central benefit. The Macdonald Laurier Institute notes that agreements, like the ones we have in Yukon, make it necessary for resource projects to compensate First Nations for the use of their land. Natural resource and energy development doesn’t just open the door to opportunity – it guarantees a fair share to First Nations.