Friday, November 30, 2018

BC Government to share Gaming revenue with First Nations

The British Columbia Government has announced plans
to share gaming revenues with First Nations in the province 

Looking to act on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the British Columbia government has announced an agreement to share provincial gaming revenue to support self-government and services to make life better for families in First Nations communities.

The first step towards implementing the new revenue sharing program will be funding of two million dollars in immediate support to establish a BC First Nations Gaming Distribution Limited Partnership.

Calling the initiative a step on the path towards reconciliation, Finance Minister Carole James noted the opportunities that the shared revenues will offer First Nations communities.

“This is an enormous step forward on the path to reconciliation and truly recognizing the right to self-determination for First Nations,”  ... “First Nations know better than anyone what their communities need to thrive. When First Nations can focus on their priorities, it creates new opportunities for communities to flourish both today and for the generations to come.”

The plan to share in the revenues from gaming in BC is the start of the province's ambitions towards implementing the UNDRIP resolution.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, the president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs observed how that resolution is considered the framework for reconciliation in BC by his organization,

“Today’s historic announcement marks a significant achievement in the Government of B.C.’s journey to reconcile its colonial history with the unextinguished Title and Rights of Indigenous peoples,”  .. . “First Nations in B.C. continue to experience the ongoing impacts of colonization, including a lack of recognition for our rights and disproportionately poor living conditions. We are hopeful that the joint work we commit to with the Province will improve the lives of our people and for all British Columbians. Jointly-developed, recognition- and rights-based legislative, policy and operational changes are needed to get out of this colonial hangover. B.C.’s commitment to developing a legislative framework for the full implementation of the standards and principles of the UN declaration, and its commitment to share gaming revenue, is a significant step towards the realization of Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and the revitalization of Indigenous governments and a nation-to-nation relationship. We cannot reiterate enough, the UN declaration must be the framework for reconciliation in B.C.”

As part of Thursday's announcement, the BC government highlighted three key elements of the program.

All First Nations will be eligible for a portion of the new gaming revenue fund. A new limited partnership, comprised of a First Nations-appointed board of directors, will oversee the distribution of the funds. 

First Nations will determine the best use for the new funding from a share of annual provincial gaming revenues. Funding will focus on priorities in the following framework: health and wellness; infrastructure, safety, transportation and housing; economic and business development; education, language, culture and training; community development and environmental protection; and capacity building, fiscal management and governance. Within that framework, First Nations governments will determine their own priorities for these funds. 

Gaming revenue sharing will be provided in addition to existing revenue sharing. Currently, economic benefits agreements between the Province and First Nations are primarily resource based and provide approximately $125 million annually to First Nations whose land and rights are affected.

The province of British Columbia already offers a share of gambling revenues with municipal governments across the province.  The most recent distribution provided Prince Rupert with just over ten million dollars in funding.

The BC Government also distributes some of the gambling revenue to community groups across the province.

You can learn more about the new First Nations revenue sharing program here.

Further background material provides a wider overview of how the province and First Nations plan to approach the new initiative,.

Vision, guiding principles, goals and objectives

Polices and Policies

Commitment Document

More items of interest related to the BC Legislature can be found from our archive page here.

A wider overview of the provincial scene can be reviewed from our political blog D'Arcy McGee

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